On Sunday, June 6, at 1:00 p.m. (New York time) – 8:00 p.m. Israel time – the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills will hold a virtual Memorial Tribute to its founding rabbi, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l, who passed away in December 2020. Rabbi Schonfeld, an erudite man, who was at home in many worlds and known around the world, built the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills from a minyan in the basement of the Saperstein home into a bustling shul with multiple minyanim. He built Kew Gardens Hills into a center of Orthodox Jewish life and ensured the viability of Jewish life in Queens by founding the Vaad Harabonim of Queens. Despite his involvement in local, national, and world affairs, he had a close relationship with each of his congregants. Many people, now parents and grandparents, remember the post cards he sent them at camp or the calls he made to them while they were learning in Israel. He never failed to visit his congregants in the hospital, and awed the patients sharing their rooms when he went over to their beds to speak with them about their illnesses and problems.

Rabbi Mordecai Willig will be the keynote speaker in the Tribute. Rabbi Willig, who grew up in the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and was a leader of its Youth Minyan, is Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Professor of Talmud and Contemporary Halachah and is the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Riverdale in the Bronx. He is also the deputy Av Beis Din of the Beth Din of America and the author of Am Mordechai, as well as many articles in Torah scholarship journals.

The June 6 Memorial will be the first stage of the Young Israel’s tribute to its founder. In the late fall, in conjunction with Rabbi Schonfeld’s first yahrzeit, a memorial tribute book featuring personal memories and stories and photographs of Rabbi Schonfeld will be published. Anyone who has stories or photographs to share is welcome to send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Anyone who would like to be a sponsor of the Tribute may contact Rabbi Stuart Verstandig ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or Rebecca Wittert ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for details.

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