Close to 800 parents, community leaders, faculty, and friends gathered this past Motza’ei Shabbos at the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation to celebrate the 78th Anniversary Dinner of the Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) and pay tribute to a distinguished group of honorees.
Upon arrival, the guests enjoyed a lavish buffet dinner by RAM Caterers and the spirited music and singing of Mr. Avi Peretz and his ensemble. Later on, the lights dimmed and Dr. Joel Wein, President of YCQ, welcomed the attendees and congratulated the fine efforts of the dinner committee. The guests then enjoyed an uplifting video of YCQ’s children and staff speaking from their hearts about the special nature of YCQ.
Following that, Rabbi Mark Landsman, Principal of YCQ, offered a brief d’var Torah and introduced the recipient of the Educator of the Year Award, Rabbi Moshe Hamel, a long-time rebbe and current assistant principal for limudei kodesh in the junior high school division. Rabbi Hamel spoke of his love for his students and the joy he gets from seeing them flourish. Numerous teachers and students in turn reflected on what a unique role model Rabbi Hamel is.
Mr. Israel Glaser, Chairman of the Board, then introduced the co-Guests of Honor, Drs. Joshua & Rachel Sisser and Rabbi Todd & Dr. Eve Sullivan, two outstanding couples who have been active in the Yeshiva and community for many years. The honorees, together with their children, enthusiastically spoke about the impact YCQ has had on them as a virtual home away from home. The Sisser and Sullivan women have been active board members for many years, and Dr. Joshua Sisser is currently organizing the 5K Race in memory of our former board member, parent, and friend, Councilman Michael Simanowitz z”l.
Dinner Chairperson Mrs. Reize Sipzner presented Mrs. Randi Beeber Luxenberg ’73 with the Distinguished Alumna Award. Reize noted how Randi was one of the most dynamic honorees she had encountered in over 25 years working with YCQ. Randi brought many in the crowd to tears with her heartfelt comments on the impact YCQ had on her growth as a Jewish person, and the strong feelings she has for it to this very day. Randi, co-chair of the Alumni Association with past Keter Shem Tov honoree, Michael Schussheim ’72, has hosted many alumni events and has energized the overall YCQ Alumni Organization.
In reflecting on the dinner, Rabbi Yaakov Lonner, the Executive Director of YCQ, observed, “An outstanding combination of distinguished honorees, record-breaking attendance, a streamlined format with cutting-edge video technology, in a beautiful venue has taken YCQ to a whole new level.”
The evening concluded with a lavish parade of desserts with sparklers and flares along with additional dancing as Rabbi Hamel, an accomplished singer himself, joined Avi Peretz and the band on stage. On the way out from this spectacular dinner, the guests collected their prizes from the Parent Teacher Organization’s Annual Dinner Auction and enjoyed hot drinks and miniature cakes for the ride home. All in attendance agreed that it was a special evening they would long remember.
Howard Sipzner is the Assistant Treasurer of the Lido Beach Synagogue in Lido Beach, New York, the proud parent of four YCQ graduates, and the supportive spouse of the Dinner Chairperson.
By Howard Sipzner
Photo Credits: Yaakov Katz Studios; 631-300-1811