Last week, after months of distancing, and for some, near isolation, the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates held its 42nd Anniversary Dinner, in person, at the Greentree Country Club Waterfront Estate in New Rochelle. Having held their previous dinner on March 7, 2020, YIJE is one of the few organizations to have held an in-person dinner in both 2020 and 2021.
Under an enormous tent and with the theme of “Yosheiv Ohalim,” Dinner Chairperson Yael Schreiber presided over the opportunity to “celebrate and honor the resourcefulness, responsiveness, and resilience of the Jamaica Estates community, as well as the many individuals who together weaved a tapestry of support for the greater community.”
City Councilman James Gennaro and State Assemblyman David Weprin were also on hand as Community Service Awards were presented to Rhonda & Hilton Blachman and Tzipporah & Moshe Boim. Both couples have distinguished themselves over many years and came forward in a unique way during the challenging pandemic year.
Rhonda & Hilton Blachman have lived in Jamaica Estates for more than 30 years, dedicating a community sefer Torah at a time when one was desperately needed, volunteering as a Hatzalah member, and serving as House chair of the YIJE building for more than a decade.
Tzipporah & Moshe Boim each work quietly behind the scenes, managing YIJE’s on-premises Mayan Sara Mikvah, as well as serving as YIJE recording secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Most recently, both families stepped up and offered their properties for additional minyanim during the Yamim Nora’im last fall. Huge tents were erected and accommodated hundreds of YIJE members who might otherwise not have been able to attend a Yom Tov minyan in the midst of the pandemic.
A special hakaras ha’tov was also expressed to Zach Herskowitz in recognition of his six years of outstanding service as Director of the Sara Domb Youth Department, and in particular keeping both young and old occupied with activity and learning all through the pandemic. During this time, Zach continued YIJE’s tradition of outstanding and creative youth programming, serving kids in Jamaica Estates and throughout Queens. A special “Thank You To Zach” music video was screened during the program.
During his presentation to the honorees, YIJE’s mara d’asra, Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner, expressed how “the last year has been a period of profound loss and strain, and it has been the sacrifices made by the brave and committed that have brought us to this moment of celebration. We have supported one another, we have consoled one another, we have lifted one another, and gifted each other with care and interest and attention.”
Addressing the hundreds who gathered under the stars, YIJE Rabbi Emeritus Shlomo Hochberg described that the “honorees exemplify how we are a supportive community. Stepping up and volunteering to generate the chesed that is the hallmark of our precious YIJE family.”
YIJE outgoing President Sam Herskowitz noted that the “shul is so innovative, so ahead of the curve, that we had the foresight to honor our doctors a year and a half ago…before the pandemic!” He went on to express the deep gratitude the entire community feels towards the physicians on the YIJE health committee, as well as Rabbis Lerner and Hochberg, Zach Herskowitz, and the dinner honorees for leading the community through the challenges of a pandemic without ever truly shutting down the operation of the shul, even while the doors were physically closed. Rabbi Lerner added, “YIJE remains a place of profound kindness and sincerity, and I thank every single one of you for the part that you play in sustaining that legacy.”
A video recap of the dinner and presentations can be found at www.yije.org.