In the seven years since Queens Jewish Link published its first paper, it has become an indispensable source of information for the Jewish community in the borough and surrounding areas. On Wednesday, February 6, the newspaper’s annual business-to-business (B2B) networking event will bring together its staff, advertisers, elected officials, community leaders, and the public to meet each other and network. The event is co-sponsored by our sister paper, the Bukharian Jewish Link, and will take place from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.
“This is not an annual dinner; it is a standing event with plenty of room to move around and network,” said co-publisher Yaakov Serle. “We have 14 sponsors with tables set to meet our readers and supporters.” The event helps business owners, managers, and even some employees make contacts with other members of the Queens Jewish community, in hopes that they will be able to help one another, either collaboratively, or by making introductions to other helpful contacts.
Hadley Margolis from Best Payroll has one example of a success story from our event. Leora Meirov of Chazaq met him at a past networking event and, after some consultation, he was able to shave off a large percentage of her payroll costs; he developed a loyal customer, and Chazaq obviously benefited from the huge savings. What a win-win for both companies.
Linda Spiegel of Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center uses this event to showcase her company. Showing up to network at such events gives people an awareness of what she does, and it keeps her company at the forefront of their minds; they either become clients or network for her when their friends or relatives potentially need her services. Some of the business owners also become professional contacts to further assist her company in meeting the needs of both her company and her clients.
Aside from face-to-face networking, we are honored to have several deserving community leaders speak at the event to offer inspiration to our attendees. At this year’s event, we will welcome Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan as our special guest. Prior to becoming Israel’s top official in New York in 2016, Dayan served as Chairman of the Yesha Council, the official organization representing Jewish communities in the Israeli-controlled territories. In that role, he traveled to numerous countries to expand grassroots support for the settlement enterprise. He has made numerous media appearances, demonstrating Israel’s resolve to expand its base of support and confront hostile news coverage. We are very honored that he will be attending our event, and we all look forward to meeting such an esteemed guest.
Rabbi Dr. Richard Weiss of the Young Israel of Hillcrest will be delivering the invocation, a spiritual address that is often used to connect the message of the parshas ha’shavua to the event. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. He earned his MD degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine and is a licensed physician in the State of New York, having completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Alongside his rabbinical role, he is also an adjunct assistant professor of Biology at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. Rabbi Weiss has a special interest in bioethics and, in particular, issues related to end-of-life care and infertility.
Attorneys Elizabeth Forspan and Ronald Fatoullah will also be honored at the event. Their law firm is well-known in the practice of elder care, special needs, and estate law. Their firm publishes a column in this newspaper, addressing topics that relate to their work. The firm’s six-member team is spread across five offices across the city and Long Island. “They help people keep their assets and have a great relationship with our newspaper,” said Serle. Listed in New York Magazine as one of “The New York Area’s Best Lawyers” for six consecutive years, Fatoullah is a noted columnist and lecturer for corporate audiences and community organizations. He is the co-author of the “Long Term Care Planning Guide for Accountants.”
The public service award named for Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz z”l will be given to Shimi Pelman, who is active in a variety of causes that benefit the Queens Jewish community, such as the mikvah in Hillcrest named after his parents, the Queens Jewish Community Council, and Queens Hatzolah, and he serves as president of Tomchei Shabbos of Queens. Previously not known to this reporter is that shortly after his move to Kew Gardens Hills in 1976, Pelman and supermarket owner Sam Brach ran their own local Jewish newspaper. “It lasted only a year and a half. There was not enough advertising to sustain it.”
At the time, Pelman was 28 years old, and he chose the neighborhood because it had an eruv that made it easier to take his baby daughter to shul and to visit other homes on Shabbos. “I’ve watched the evolution of the neighborhood. Shimon’s Pizza used to be an Irish bar. Nowadays, the 7-Eleven is the only shop that’s open on Shabbos,” said Pelman.
When Pelman came to Queens, the Conservative synagogue across the street from Shimon’s Pizza had the largest membership, but as its congregants aged and retired to Florida, young Orthodox couples purchased their homes and supported new shuls, yeshivos, and kosher businesses. Although Pelman recognizes that the high home values are pushing many young families out of Queens, he said that the sizable number of Jewish homeowners, including new Bukharian residents, is keeping the Kew Gardens Hills community viable.
Through his friendship with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and membership on Community Board 8, Pelman led the effort to upzone nearly 300 detached homes in Kew Gardens Hills, enabling them to expand so that they can accommodate larger families. “We network with other groups to benefit our community. That’s political networking that results in variances granted for shuls, and opposition to bus lanes on Main Street.”
Pelman encourages young professionals in the Queens community to vote as Democrats, as it is the most influential political force on the local scene, attend neighborhood Democratic Club meetings, and cast votes in all elections. “Learn from Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Borough Park. The community that votes is a strong unit. We need to be more involved politically because this is where change happens.” He advocates that every citizen should be a registered voter and aim for a high level of voter participation in every election, hopefully voting the Democratic ticket.
Food for the event will be provided by Soysauce and the Dunkin’ Donuts of Kew Gardens Hills. Six other local Jewish publications are among the sponsors, demonstrating that our seven-year-old newspaper is a bona fide “club” member of Orthodox print media in the crowded and lucrative New York market.
With crowded races for the Queens District Attorney, a special election on February 26 for Public Advocate, and term limits for the Borough President and City Council seats, the annual Queens Jewish Link / Bukharian Jewish Link Networking Event is the venue to meet those who are shaping the future of the Queens Jewish community and, at the same time, to expand business contacts and opportunities among both the recent and long-standing supporters and contributors of this newspaper. As the saying goes, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. So we look forward to getting to know more of the movers and shakers in our community. See you there!
For more information and to register online for the event, please visit tinyurl.com/qjlnetworkingevent.
By Sergey Kadinsky
& Rachel Goldsmith