The fourth night of Chanukah took on special significance for the Queens Jewish community, as Hatzolah of Queens and Great Neck invited members and their wives to a special Chanukah party. The dinner, held at Ner Mordechai in Kew Gardens, is an annual event that pays tribute to the selfless volunteers and their wives, who dedicate themselves just the same, allowing their husband to save lives.
The event sparkled in physical beauty and ignited the flames of Torah that were silenced during the period of Chanukah. As many have taken note, the event also solidified the modern use of Hatzolah’s new logo that embraces the organization’s reach throughout Queens and the Long Island enclave of Great Neck, where its membership serves.
Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, CEO of Chevra Hatzalah, joined professional askanus in 2002 together with Agudath Israel of America, but took a hiatus to help President George W. Bush with his reelection campaign in 2004 in Northeast Ohio. He was then, at age 28, invited to a dinner with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as he contemplated a presidential run and received a phone call from his Rosh HaYeshivah from Telshe Harav Avrohom Chaim Levin zt”l, with whom he learned together for seven years. “I am nervous for how excited you are about this meeting. You have a tafkid for klal Yisrael in this meeting. You must stay focused and finish that job.” And so it was that they tried to distract R’ Yehiel, but he stood strong and accomplished his task. Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, then EVP of Agudath Israel, reminded R’ Yehiel that when he gets back home, his wife will hand him the trash to take out. Rav Bloom said that you will take the garbage out and do your duty as a husband. “Many times in klal Yisrael, we get enwrapped and excited for what we are accomplishing for the klal.” Rabbi Kalish added that when you have shalom bayis, you have something greater than the pirsumei nisa of Chanukah – “the shechinah itself in your home!” What a special blessing to receive sitting beside one’s wife at a delightful Chanukah chagigah.
Other speakers included Rabbi Binyomin Kessler, Coordinator, who thanked the volunteers for handling precarious situations where an individual might be nervous with utmost care. “You are there to reassure them, to calm them, to provide them the most advanced up-to-date passionate medical care anywhere in the world.”
May Hatzolah be zoche to the day their services are no longer needed. Much appreciation to Shimon Gifter for his stellar photography.