Colors: Blue Color

One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a worldwide increase in domestic violence. That’s why the Met Council Family Violence Services program has launched a new tool, a texting service, to help domestic violence survivors safely contact Met Council master-level social workers 18 hours a day. Met Council runs America’s largest Jewish domestic violence program. They recognized that during this pandemic and, due to subsequent stay-at-home orders, a bad situation has been made worse for many. Many survivors now have critically fewer routes to safety. Survivors of all forms of abuse – be it physical, financial, verbal, or any other form of domestic abuse or trafficking – can now text 917-540-0225 to receive 100 percent free and confidential services and support from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.

This past Monday afternoon, June 15, residents of Kew Gardens Hills gathered at the Queens Valley Playground at the corner of 76th Avenue and 137th Street, commonly referred to as the Shabbos Park, to rally for its overdue opening. Queens Borough President candidate Elizabeth Crowley organized the gathering, where she voiced her concerns about the city’s mismanagement, which is forcing children to continue suffering the effects of quarantine. At the park, residents were angered that their children were barred entry. “Rioters did not have to social distance and we are locked out of our own ball field?” questioned one neighborhood parent. Rachel and Yisroel Orenbuch brought their family along to show support for the movement underway to reopen our parks. “A ball field is meant to be played in; we have sidewalk chalk and the kids want to color,” explained Mrs. Orenbuch. “Most residents of Kew Gardens Hills live in 18-foot attached homes or apartments and have been cooped up for nearly three months and need to get out.” Others explained that the big open space of the park can be used by families at the discretion of their parents, not government officials. “It is contingent on mother and fathers to set boundaries, not our politicians,” explained one working mother from the area.

“Has your shul reopened?” This is a topic of conversation when meeting at a neighborhood grocery. Regular shul-goers have had to grapple with praying at home for well over three months now. It was only recently that outdoor quorums had been allowed by local governments. Soon after, synagogues began opening their doors for socially distanced gatherings of ten men for a “minyan.” Around this time, leaders of many shuls sent their membership Google Forms inquiring about the demand for a minyan.

Rebbetzin Zissel bas Reuven Chaim Margulies was niftar this past Shabbos afternoon, June 7, leaving the Kew Gardens Hills community with an immense loss. Rebbetzin Zissel was the devoted wife of Moreinu HaRav HaGaon Rav Shaul David HaKohen Margulies (niftar February 25, 1988) who led Khal Degel Israel at the corner of 68th Drive and Main Street since 1958. The Margulieses resided at the shul, dedicating each day and night to spread the fire of the Torah. The Rebbetzin had much self-sacrifice for her devoted husband, as she recognized his love of Torah and his place as a leader for the Queens community. Rebbetzin Zissel remained at the shul for the next 32 years, continuing the ambitious legacy of Rav Margulies, and kept his vision shining ever so bright. The couple’s fierce adherence to mitzvos merited their daughter and son-in-law, HaRav David Zussman and Rebbetzin Rochel Sheinfeld to join Rebbetzin Zissel in continuing to build on the foundation that Degel Israel was built.