On Sunday, June 21 at 9:15 a.m., Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns will be hosting its 13th Annual Breakfast. After years of hospitality from the Young Israel of Woodmere, the yeshiva is now able to host this important event in its own facility, for the second consecutive year.
The breakfast will provide a momentary pause to consider what the yeshiva’s powerful influence means to our community. The spiritual peaks attained on a Shavuos night, learning b’chavrusa in the expansive beismidrash, or at a YamimNora’imtefillah, punctuated by the koltefillah, can only be achieved due to the consistent, unwavering support the community has invested in its yeshiva and which the yeshiva has reciprocated to the community.
When the Yeshiva Gedolah opened the doors of its humble beismidrash to less than 20 bachurim 13 years ago, the objectives of its chashuverosheiyeshiva, Rav Yitzchak Knobel, shlita, and Rav Moshe Zev Katzenstein, shlita, were rather grand. Plant an institution that can serve as an example of Torah, yirasShamayim, and middostovos to take root in the heart of the Five Towns community. And, as the community has flourished around it, the yeshiva has blossomed into a model for the entire olamhaTorah to admire.
But the story is not complete. The yeshiva continues to grow and expand its role in the lives of the bachurim, kollelyungerleit, and ba’alhabatim who choose to seek spiritual nourishment from it. The yeshiva realizes this critical, ongoing responsibility requires the continued time and investment from the community. It is in that spirit that the yeshiva requests your presence in recognizing its special honorees and the yeshiva itself at this upcoming event.
Ateres Zekeinim Award: Chazzan Yitzchak Friedman. While he is young at heart, Chazzan Yitzchak Friedman is someone we can all learn from. He is a shining example of perseverance and steadfast belief in Hashem. A survivor of the Holocaust, Chazzan Friedman grew up in Studena, Czechoslovakia, and is the only surviving member of seven children. He moved to America after being liberated in 1949. Upon moving here, he obtained a job as a spot remover for a silk company, but quit after being mandated to work on Shabbos. Using his powerful voice, he was able to get a position as a chazzan at the Fox Street Shul in the Bronx. From there, he moved to several different shuls, where he inspired many with his beautiful tefillos. Other jobs were hard to come by as he refused to work on Shabbos, under any circumstances.
Regardless, he managed to put all of his children through yeshiva, raising a beautiful, frum family. After two of his children moved to Woodmere, he followed them almost 15 years ago. Over the past few years, he has been spending an increasing amount of time in Israel, with children, grandchildren, and great-children, as well as in Florida. He met his current wife, Esther, in the Poconos ten years ago, and you can often see them taking walks. He still receives constant inspiration from his father, who comes to him in dreams to ask if he davened that day.
As it pertains specifically to the yeshiva, Chazzan Friedman has inspired all of us with his countless tefillos for the amud as well as his smile and warm demeanor. His very presence is a meaningful to all who daven with us. His grandson, Yehoshua Arvele, was one of the original talmidim of the yeshiva. He has since moved to EretzYisrael to raise his beautiful family. YGFT is delighted to recognize this amazing individual at this year’s breakfast.
Yedid Hatorah Award: Ken Fliegelman. Ken (“Kenny”) Fliegelman embodies a love and thirst for Torah learning. His early morning chavrusa at the yeshiva, followed by his participation in its early morning minyan are indicative of his dedication to learning and davening. He is often the last one to finish davening and inspires those around him. Ken and his wife, Debra, have a strong appreciation for the yeshiva’s role in their lives and in our community. They often, as a family, make the walk to the yeshiva on Shabbos or yomtov for davening, learning, events, and other occasions. Ken and his son Shmuel are regulars at the yeshiva’s avosu’banim program.
Ken was raised on Staten Island. After high school, he studied at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim in EretzYisrael; at Yeshivat Torah Mitzion in Great Neck; and at Yeshivat B’nei Torah in Far Rockaway. Today he works for the Raynor Group, a furniture manufacturer in West Hempstead. Debra grew up in Lawrence, attended Stern College for Women, and later graduated from Columbia University with a degree in pediatric occupational therapy. Today the couple lives in Cedarhurst where they are active members of Kehillas Bais Yehuda Tzvi, whose marad’asra is Rav Yaakov Feitman, shlita. In addition to being the Fliegelmans’ rav, Rav Feitman, was also Ken’s menahel in elementary school, at Yeshivas Rabbi Jacob Joseph on Staten Island.
They are known by friends and family to be amongst the most generous and selfless people, always looking to do for and help others. They truly represent a love for Torah and its values. Ken’s close connection and active participation makes him a well-deserving recipient of this award.
Amud HaTorah Award: Yakov Lowinger. Yakov Lowinger is a paradigm of Torah learning and an example of the effect Torah should have on those who learn it and cling to it. His time for learning, especially his seder with Rav Moshe Miller, shlita, is an integral part of his day. He has made use of the new building and provided his own contribution to the kolTorah that emanates from it daily.
Yakov moved to the Five Towns area with his family in 2009 after completing several years of involvement in chinuch (mainly his own) and secular education all over the world. He immediately set out to find a makomTorah that would suit his desire for learning b’iyun, limited attention span, and random schedule. He decided to settle for one out of three and b’H the other two have (mostly) worked out. Apart from learning with Rav Miller, shlita, and benefiting from his incredible hislamdus, and having previously attended the shiurim of Rav Goodman, shlita, he is the founder of e-commerce platform Cartonomy and a former professor at Yeshiva University. He is married to Rachel, who is a licensed clinical psychologist in the community, and they live in Lawrence where they are members of Congregation Heichal Dovid and various mailing lists. He accepted the amudhaTorah award thinking he was getting a free shtender but graciously agreed to be honored once the concept of metaphor was explained to him. He now realizes that he is like a shtender and hopes to live up to that by spending more time in the beismidrash.
The event chairmen hope to greet you personally at the upcoming breakfast on June 21 at 9:15 to collectively show appreciation for the efforts of the yeshiva and the rosheiyeshiva for implanting this makomTorah in our lives, as well as admiration for the accomplishments of this special slate of honorees.