The public came out in droves to Cunningham Park this past Wednesday night, August 24, for the annual Queens Jewish Community Council (QJCC) concert at the park. One thousand is a conservative estimate of the number of attendees at Jewish Music Under the Stars, featuring international singing sensation Avi Peretz.

“When you are up here, you have no idea how large this Jewish crowd is,” said Michael Nussbaum, President, QJCC, as he stood on stage to address the audience, which represented a wide variety of local Jewish communities. “This is Jewish Queens. This is our strength.” Nussbaum added, “The children who are here are our strength, representing the future generations.”

“We are proud of who we are, our heritage, and our values that we as Jews have here, defending our community and for standing up for the State of Israel,” said Nussbaum, of the 53 years of service that QJCC has given Queens.

“The Margaret Tietz mobile van distributed 1,000 bags in the first few minutes of the program,” said Linda Spiegel, Director of Public Affairs for the facility and a QJCC Board Member. Together with her team, they educated the public on options for those needing rehab and eldercare.

This year, Avi Peretz, of Bat Yam, Israel, marked an astonishing 30-year career as a musician, inspiring his listeners with classic and modern Jewish music, always allowing his authentic Mizrachi tone to shine. Peretz’s popularity has not waned, and his influence in the Jewish music industry has been proven with regular albums since “Galgal HaZman” (1992) until “Kmo Eish” (2017). With lawn chairs and blankets spread over the grass, guests of all ages enjoyed and sang along to the tunes as dusk set in.

Peretz made children a focus of the event, bringing them on stage more than once and participating in a couple of duets. One such partnership was with Aaron Zucker, a local realtor and newlywed who felt connected to and inspired by Peretz.

The event was co-sponsored by New York City Council and their partner NYC Cultural Affairs; Parker Jewish Institute, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and Margaret Tietz also contributed. Thanks is given to Speaker Adrienne Adams, Council Members James Gennaro, Lynn Schulman, and Linda Lee. Special remarks were delivered by Gennaro and Lee, as well as Assembly Member David Weprin, who has always stood with the QJCC. Assembly Member Nily Rozic was also in attendance, listening to residents and passing out COVID-19 testing kits. Of note were Pinchus Hikind, Senior Community Liaison to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Simon Sebag, Jewish Liaison to New York City Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, Sorolle Idels, Chairperson, Queens Jewish Alliance, and her husband Shimmy.

A note of appreciation goes to Jay Goldberg for coordinating the event, Rabbi Mayer Waxman, Executive Director of QJCC, for spreading the word and being a constant presence, and the NYPD Community Affairs Unit under the leadership of P.O. Kevin McCarthy of the 107th Police Precinct for their protection. In his remarks, Nussbaum pledged to open the new QJCC headquarters off Main Street and Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills later this year. Residents have seen the project stall over the last decade, but recent action at the construction site began with the installation of a new sidewalk.

By Shabsie Saphirstein
Photo Credit: Shabsie Saphirstein