On Motza’ei Shabbos, Parshas Mishpatim, a festive melaveh malkah was held to mark Congregaion Ohel Yitzchok’s 38 years of continued contributions to the Kew Gardens Hills area. The evening featured a siyum haShas on behalf of the shul’s Daf HaYomi chaburah and was dedicated in memory of founding member Dr. Tali Skoczylas a”h.
The elegant celebration at Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, catered by Simcha Noble of Simcha’s Gourmet Catering, provided mispal’lim with an opportunity to express hakaras ha’tov to HaRav Shaul Arieli and his rebbetzin for their daily efforts on behalf of the k’hilah.
Several community rabbanim, namely Rav Yaakov Bergman of Beis Medrash of KGH, Rav Akiva Grunblatt (Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim), Rav Doniel Lander (Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim), among others partook in the evening’s program.
Mr. Robert Barnett, the shul’s gabbai, opened the program by thanking the attendees and dedicated volunteers working to ensure all details of the shul’s daily functioning. Then, the mara d’asra, HaRav Shaul Arieli, was m’sayeim Shas and read the Hadran followed by Mr. Boaz Ben-Ari, a long-time member of the Daf shiur, reciting Kaddish.
The affair paid homage to a special individual, Dr. Tali Skoczylas, Tali ben Avraham a”h, who was one of Congregation Ohel Yitzchok’s founding members. Many recalled how, in his overly pious, kindhearted, and quiet demeanor, Dr. Tali, as he was affectionately called by his closest peers, was a source of inspiration to all he encountered.
Dr. Skoczylas, who was a staunch benefactor of Torah causes and an erudite scholar in his own right, was niftar this past Shavuos – on the Yom Tov of the giving of the Torah. The coveted physician brought healing to tens of thousands of patients, including various leading Torah giants. The Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and Rav HaKohen Kook, a talmid of Rav Elyashiv, were known to have sought Dr. Skoczylas’ advice on medical matters. The noble doctor reviewed the cases of various g’dolei Yisrael, including Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe), the seventh Gerer Rebbe Rav Menachem Alter, the P’nei Menachem, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, and Rav Shmuel Wosner; more recently, Dr. Skoczylas reviewed the medical records of Rav Nissim Karelitz, who was niftar this past October.
Rav Arieli and Gabbai Emeritus Shragie Aranoff both spoke of their respective close friendships with Dr. Skoczylas, both on a personal level, and as a beloved member of the congregation. Sons Moshe and Yanky reflected on the major impact that their father had on each of their lives and those of anyone in his acquaintance.
Rabbi Shaul Arieli, a prodigy of Yeshivas Chevron, studied under its Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Yechezkel Sarna zt”l, and was later a founding member of the legendary kollel established by Rav Betzalel Zolty zt”l, former Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim. Rav Arieli was born and raised in Yerushalayim to an illustrious family and, in 1970, wed the Rebbetzin, a daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Portnoy zt”l, who was a noted principal of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn and earlier was a talmid of the Mirrer Yeshiva. There, he was involved in obtaining visas for the Yeshiva’s escape from Europe to Shanghai during World War II. After their marriage, Rav Arieli moved to the US and began a shul in Brooklyn, serving as its rav for eight years. The Arielis moved to Kew Gardens Hills in 1981, when the rav launched Congregation Ohel Yitzchok, and has since been committed with much love and warmth to its membership.