On Sunday morning, May 6, community members gathered at the Yeshiva of Central Queens for the annual Yeshiva Kesser Torah breakfast.
Mr. David Reich welcomed everyone and noted how, because of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, we have minyanim at any time of night in our neighborhood. He stated, “It’s comforting for anyone saying Kaddish to know that they can catch a minyan any time at night at Yeshiva Kesser Torah. It’s important and very special.”
Dr. Bassali spoke first. “It is my greatest privilege to be a part of this yeshivah.” He shared his history with the yeshivah. He was job hunting in 1981 and he accompanied a friend who was visiting someone at Yeshiva Kesser Torah, which at that time was located on the service road of the Grand Central Parkway in Briarwood. The friend learning at Kesser Torah turned out to be certified as an electrical engineer and he knew of a job opening for Dr. Bassali. Dr. Bassali began learning at Yeshiva Kesser Torah then, and he is still in touch with the rebbe who taught him in the 1980s. He stated, “Through this yeshivah, I met many friends and rabbis. I met many people in the neighborhood who invited me for Shabbos meals. Through Kesser Torah I learned Torah and I found my first job.” He noted how he merited to spend a lot of time at the home of the Rosenblatts, too. He stated, “This honor is to Rabbi Rosenblatt and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt, who were always there for me through good times and difficult times. My greatest appreciation is to Rabbi Rosenblatt.”
Next, Rabbi Rosenblatt introduced Mr. Schonfeld, and he noted that Mr. Schonfeld is a “crackerjack” mashgiach. “If he is involved in kashrus, you know there is no question.”
Mr. Schonfeld shared that he was a ben bayis in the home of the Rosenblatts. They were available to him day and night. “They are always there for me and continue to be there.” He noted, “We are very lucky to live in such a community. My wife and I are lucky to be associated with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt.”
Next, Rabbi Naftali Portnoy, Co-Director of the Jewish Heritage Center of Queens and Long Island, shared a moving speech. He noted how the Akdamus piyut (liturgical poem) states that if we immerse ourselves in Torah, then Hashem will accept our t’filos. He noted, “This prayer is what Yeshiva Kesser Torah is about. It is involvement in Torah learning and in t’filah.” There are places designated for learning and places designated for t’filah. Yeshiva Kesser Torah was founded by Rabbi Rosenblatt and it has synthesized these two components for more than 50 years. Rabbi Portnoy spoke about the tremendous m’siras nefesh involved. He stated, “I saw first-hand.” The Rosenblatts,” he stated, “were my shadchanim. When you opened the doors to their home, it was full of their talmidim. On Shabbos, they were singing Rabbi Rosenblatt’s beautiful original nigunim.” He pointed out how, 30 years ago, this was the place for a beginner in Torah learning to learn. There was no other place then. He then extolled Yeshiva Kesser Torah as a makom t’filah in the center of Queens. “If you need a minyan in Queens, you go there.”
Rabbi Portnoy stated that the way to connect to Hashem is through Torah and t’filah. He noted how Rabbi Rosenblatt took the teachings and approaches he learned from his rabbanim, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l and brought these teachings of divrei musar and divrei Torah together. This is a way to pass on the mesorah of these two giants. Rabbi Rosenblatt regularly publishes sheets to strengthen so many. He stated, “It is a z’chus for us to have them in our community. Hashem should continue to give them strength and the health to be able to continue in their avodah, teaching Torah, being there for the Queens community.”
By Susie Garber