With summertime nearly behind us, busy school days are the future for community families. On Sunday, August 20, a grand finale was held for Summer Seder, a six-week initiative of Congregation Charm Circle and Chazaq that kept Torah learning strong and vibrant when school was out. The event included inspiring words, soothing tunes, and delicious treats. The diversity of Kew Gardens Hills has been readily apparent for many years, and Summer Seder was no different, with an eclectic mix of Sephardim and Ashkenazim enjoying the beauty of Hashem’s Torah. Each Sunday and Wednesday evening, teens and young professionals commingled over burgers or sushi while expanding their Torah knowledge. As word spread of the program’s success, organizers opted to open its doors to the community and within no time the shul’s seats quickly filled.

“There was a stark difference seeing forty to fifty men hanging at the basketball court across the street and then at witnessing a similar number of teens, mostly high-school-aged young men, taking of their own time to seriously take on this special learning seder twice a week,” explained Mishael Sionov, program coordinator. “Additionally, there were active chavrutot and chaburot sessions on topics of choice to further enhance and engage the participants,” added Sionov, who delivered one of the two chaburot. Sionov’s group covered two dafim in the fourth perek of Mesechet Kiddushin. Maor Neim, a Lander’s College for Men student who established an app, ROYZmanim, featuring Rav Ovadia Yosef ztk”l’s z'manim, led one of the lively chaburot aptly given on the proper times for davening and Jewish customs and other interesting topics. The week prior, Benyamin Katayev made a grand siyum on Masechet Kiddushin that brought in a full crowd.

At the grand finale, Rav Leeor Dahan, mara d’asrah of Hillcrest’s Kehilat Avodat Hashem, imparted warm words that focused on the power of learning b’rabim. The rav spent time explaining the importance of leaving one’s home for Torah study, and instead studying in mass at a shul or beis hamedrash.

“There are three 'P's to life,” related Rav Yaniv Meirov, mara d’asrah of the hosting shul, in the name of his own rebbe, HaRav Aharon Walkin ztk”l. “They are patience, positivity, and persistence.” Rav Yigal Haimoff, mara d’asrah of Yeshiva Ohel Simcha, spoke of his own youth where he struggled to find footing until he encountered an eighth grade rebbe who changed his course in life. “I know you will be great and have wonderful lives."

Stay tuned for Winter Seder, which is sure to be even more inspiring!

By Shabsie Saphirstein