On Motza’ei Shabbat, February 29, almost 800 parents, community leaders, faculty members, family, and friends gathered to celebrate the 79thAnniversary Dinner of Yeshiva of Central Queens at the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation. It was an evening celebrating a distinguished group of honorees.

 Following an elaborate buffet dinner by RAM Caterers, the guests were welcomed by Israel Glaser, YCQ Chairman of the Board, followed by the recitation of tehillim by Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Queens Valley; and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and Hatikvah by Rabbi Moshe Hamel, JHS assistant principal, singing sensation, Dovid Haziza, and surprise guest, alumni parent Dr. Meir Abittan. Councilmember Rory Lancman offered words of support for the yeshiva and a proclamation of accomplishment to each of the honorees.

The gathered crowd then enjoyed cutting-edge video technology in a video brought to fruition by Devora Baer-Mandelcorn, director of grants. The video showcased the yeshiva’s milestones, with the students sharing a top-10 list of the best parts of their yeshiva including the improvements and upgrades to the physical building; curriculum changes to keep up with the advances in technology and national learning standards; their many experiences socially and spiritually; and the general education they are receiving; as well as their love for their school. In the second part of the video, family, friends, colleagues, and rebbeim spoke about the honorees, the amazing accomplishments, and selfless energy that each of the award recipients gives to YCQ to help create the warm and nurturing learning environment that makes it a premier yeshiva day school.

Rabbi Mark Landsman, Principal of YCQ, offered a brief d’var Torah on video and, along with Melissa Cohen, assistant principal of general studies for the elementary school, introduced the recipient of the Educator of the Year Award, Mrs. Sandra Dua, a long-time fourth grade general studies teacher. Sandra Dua brings to her fourth-grade students a sense of pride in each of their accomplishments. She looks at each student as an individual and helps them work to their potential. When you walk into her classroom, there is a sense of a structured and nurturing learning environment.  Within her community, here in Kew Gardens Hills, the answer “no” is unheard of. She has and continues to instill in her students and her family a sense of pride as Jews and as community volunteers and members.

Simcha Musheyev, VP of YCQ executive board, presented Natalie (’03) and Shalom Rakhminov with the Parents of the Year Award.  He noted how not only do Natalie and Shalom give to YCQ through volunteer work, they also support the community and devote their time to the EMET Outreach Organization, and anyone who needs help. Natalie began attending YCQ in kindergarten and is still involved as a member of the board of trustees, the PTO, and in the education of all of her children attending YCQ.

The Guests of Honor, Ben and Samantha Kramer, an outstanding couple who have been active in the Yeshiva and community for many years, were introduced by Dr. Joel Wein, president of the YCQ Board.  “When they find an organization they care about, they take all of their energy and pour it into that organization.” The honorees, together with their children, spoke about their dedication and commitment to YCQ and the impact the yeshiva has had on them and their children as YCQ’s “biggest cheerleaders.”  Ben works tirelessly for the YCQ executive board, as financial secretary and Samantha is involved in all aspects of the PTO helping to build it into the amazing organization that it is today. Bobby Faigen, friend and board member, said, “Whether school, shul, community, or different tzedakas, Ben and Samantha have this ‘what can I do’ attitude. They step-up and they make you step up.” 

The evening concluded with a lavish parade of desserts and the Parent Teacher Organization’s Annual Dinner Auction.  All in attendance agreed that it was another successful dinner and a special evening they would long remember.