“Tonight’s beautiful evening is an opportunity for us to come together as a united community to pay tribute to the tireless members of the Achiezer executive board through a unified show of support.” With these opening words, Mr. Shlomo Reich, master of ceremonies at Achiezer’s tenth anniversary dinner, encapsulated the feelings of the entire assemblage.
On Thursday, February 15, a crowd of over 1,500 guests joined together at the Sands Atlantic Beach for a Tribute of a Decade on behalf of Achiezer and its ten dedicated founding executive board members. Mr. Reich proceeded to give honorable mention and thanks to elected officials, hospital representatives, and agency heads, providing the audience with a glimpse of the scope of the organization’s network and the channels through which it operates on a regular basis.
The program continued with the recital of Tehillim led by the evening’s chairmen, Mr. Ronald Lowinger and Mr. Lloyd Keilson. This was followed by a surprise presentation of a special hakaras hatov award to one of Achiezer’s longstanding and devoted staff members, Mrs. Elke Rubin. The ability to pull off a surprise presentation like this, complete with journal ads and a video, for someone so deeply involved in virtually every facet of the dinner campaign was truly an amazing feat.
Among the highlights of the evening was a powerful visual presentation highlighting Achiezer’s development from inception through its ten year milestone. Meir Glenn, a victim of a hit-and-run accident in the Bronx, proceeded to the podium and shared his own personal Achiezer story, which again portrayed the scope and reach of Achiezer’s services. He described how Achiezer was alerted to his situation when he was in a far-off hospital in the Bronx, given practically no chance of ever standing on his own two feet again. Immediately springing into action, Achiezer personnel arranged everything, from his immediate transport to a world-class hospital, to top doctor referrals, support and guidance, kosher food, and so much more. Meir concluded his brief story saying, “There is no question that without Achiezer I would not be standing here before you today and it is with their help that I will be’ezras Hashem be walking down to my chuppah two weeks from now.”
All eyes turned to the podium as Boruch Ber Bender, Achiezer founder and president, delivered his address. Rabbi Bender noted the diversity represented in the evening honorees, which was paralleled by the broad representation amongst the audience of virtually every facet of the communal spectrum.
“The power of community, the power of unity, that is the power of Achiezer,” said Rabbi Bender. “Once we are determined to roll up our sleeves and do for somebody else, there is no limit to what we can do and who we can help.” As many have noted, it is difficult today to imagine the community without Achiezer.
Rabbi Bender then made a poignant presentation to a special guest named Anthony Vero, general manager of LaGuardia Airport. Just one week earlier, Mr. Vero orchestrated a miraculous transport of an aron requiring a connecting flight from LaGuardia Airport to Newark in record time. The incoming flight was delayed by two hours and the circumstances seemed nearly impossible by all accounts. He provided special clearance for the hearse to proceed onto the runway and remove the aron from the incoming plane immediately upon landing. He then arranged for an escort all the way to Newark Airport. Upon his acceptance of the award, the entire assemblage spontaneously rose to their feet giving Tony a well-deserved standing ovation.
The program concluded with the award presentation to the evening’s ten honorees, the founding executive board members of Achiezer.
Rabbi Bender asked those gathered to join him in saying thank you to these selfless individuals. “Thousands of people have been helped in lifesaving ways, as well as in small, insignificant ways, because ten years ago, ten people in our community saw the potential of what could be done. They dared to believe when Achiezer was nothing more than a piece of paper and a dream. They realized that if we want to help people then the sky is the limit. And they jumped on board and have not looked back.”
Achiezer extends its heartfelt thanks to Aaron Jungreis and Rosewood Realty Group for sponsoring this year’s dinner journal.