This past Wednesday evening, December 8, the cold air of winter did not hold back Chaverim of Queens from holding a special appreciation event for the generous equipment allocation provided by Council Member James F. Gennaro. The program, held just before dusk in the parking lot of the Yeshiva of Central Queens in Kew Gardens Hills, welcomed all facets of the Jewish community from its leaders to rabbanim and the offices of elected officials. Public recognition was given to Gennaro by all in attendance, acknowledging how an allotment of funding is successfully distributed.
Additionally, the organization inaugurated its newest class of volunteers and distributed brand new equipment to its members. “We are grateful for the dedication and service of our members and we do our utmost to provide appropriate tools for our members to do their volunteerism,” explained co-founder Avi Cyperstein. “We are extremely appreciative to Council Member Gennaro for providing this vital discretionary funding to aid in doling out the equipment this evening.”
“Council Member Gennaro extends his appreciation for the work that Chaverim of Queens does on a daily basis,” said Adam Sionov, the Jewish liaison for the councilmember, who represents District 24 in the City Council. “Your work in helping stranded motorists and homeowners is commendable. We wish you well in continuing to help our communities.”
“In Hebrew, Chaverim is defined as friends. Every child knows that friends should always be there for other friends,” expressed Simon Sebag, the Jewish liaison to NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, who attended with Sabine French of Williams’ community engagement office. “Friends supporting friends that one knows or that one may have never met is precisely what sets the work of Chaverim apart. It is our hope that the organization pushes forth with its mission.”
Rabbi Tzvi (Harry) Berkowitz, Chief Chaplain at the NYS Fraternal Order of Police and founder and director of Universal Jewish Police Association, echoed this feeling. “Networking is extremely important, and Chaverim of Queens’ efforts to stay with those in need until the issue is resolved is an incredible notion that demonstrates by actions over words. Mi k’amcha Yisrael.” Rabbi Berkowitz’ work as a 25-year veteran as a national chaplain for the National Conference of Shomrim Societies and a retired member of the MTA police force has made him quite understanding of what it means to step up when others stand clear.
Other rabbinic leadership present included Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of the Chazaq Organization, Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, Executive Vice President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff, rav of the Kew Gardens Synagogue. They each praised the work of the volunteers and blessed them to continue to be able to provide their important communal assistance.
The essence of the evening was brought front and center when, during one of the photos, my phone rang with an incoming hotline call for a stranded motorist just blocks away in need of a boost for his car. Several members jumped into action, quickly responding to the call and saving the day for the local resident.
In a gesture of supporting one of their own, pizza was arranged through Shlomo Zalman Schwartz, proprietor of Naomi’s Pizza and a devoted Chaverim volunteer.
Follow Chaverim of Queens online at www.chaverimofqueens.org and via @ChaverimQueens on Twitter and @ChaverimOfQueens on Facebook and Instagram.
By Shabsie Saphirstein, member, Chaverim of Queens