While Central Avenue is a great place to meet friends and eat great food on a Thursday night, there’s something you can’t get there. You can’t learn about and contribute to a great cause that is saving Jewish neshamos. But on Thursday evening, January 3, you were able to do both. The 2013 kickoff fundraiser for TOVA Mentoring was held at the home of Pinky and Miri Friedman and was successful beyond expectations. The list of inspirational speakers included Rabbi Dovid Weinberger of Shaarei Tefilah, his son Akiva, himself a beneficiary of the program, and Mr. Richard Altabe, one of TOVA’s founders and executive vice-president.

The event had originally been planned for November but our local superstorm blew the event out to sea. Yehuda Klinkowitz, program director for TOVA, worked around the clock in the dark to reschedule this important event and hired a new director of development, Eliezer Zezy Fuld, to initiate, develop, and implement new and exciting events for TOVA.

The rescheduled event last Thursday was a great hit. R’ Zezy Fuld emceed the evening and introduced the program by describing how he came to work for TOVA after investigating how he could best help the children of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway. Guest speaker, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, spoke on the topic “No Child Left Behind.” He related a moving and tragic story of a woman he met at an out-of-town wedding who shared that in the 13 years since her divorce, four of her seven children went “off the derech.” “I searched for people to work with my children and speak with them. Unfortunately, there was nothing like that where I live.” Rabbi Weinberger went on to say that every Jewish neshamah is priceless and must be helped and how fortunate our community is to have TOVA Mentoring.

Akiva Weinberger related his own experience as someone helped by TOVA Mentoring many years ago and how the experience permanently changed his life for the better. “My mentor is still in almost daily contact with me. I feel that I can discuss anything with him.”

Richard Altabe pointed out that for the cost of taking a young person out to coffee daily, you could sponsor a year’s worth of mentoring for a child for $1,800. “It buys 12 sessions of therapy. We are getting off cheap!”

The event concluded with people feeling inspired, making donations, and partaking of delicious desserts. One guest, Mr. Jordan Hiller, was extremely enthusiastic. “Rabbi Weinberger is a wonderful speaker! I find it hard to believe that I have lived in this area for many years but did not know how truly amazing TOVA Mentoring is!” Mr. Hiller was so inspired that he has agreed to host an event for TOVA in February for his North Woodmere community.

“We need more people to understand how important TOVA’s services are for our children and for them to help out any way they can,” said the host of the evening, Mr. Pinky Friedman.

Since Hurricane Sandy, TOVA has been receiving an increased volume of requests for mentoring and is working overtime to fill the need. Zezy is working on several upcoming events to help support TOVA’s vital programs. A raffle will get underway shortly and there are other events on the horizon. For information on how you can help TOVA Mentoring, e-mail zezyfuld@tovamentoring.org or call 516-295-0550. v


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