By Rochelle Maruch Miller
It was a not-to-be-missed event, an elegant evening, filled with good company, world-class cuisine, and beautiful music—all for an exemplary cause. Under a magical moonlit and star-studded sky, David and Bilhah Moradi graciously hosted what has arguably become the year’s most highly anticipated event: the annual Avigdor’s Helping Hand barbecue.
Surpassing all expectations, this year’s occasion, the ninth since its inception, drew an unprecedented gathering of well over a thousand guests. From near and far they came, representing the Five Towns, the five boroughs, and the entire Tri-State area.
It is always an honor and a privilege for me to write about this extraordinary chesed organization and the selfless efforts of its dedicated volunteers. For these young men and women, AHH is a labor of love. Their devotion is indescribable. They are professionals who work long hours and have young families to support. Each of these volunteers has a unique job to perform, which they do with such devotion.
And so it is with great pleasure that that my husband and I attend the annual Labor Day barbecue each year and show our support for an organization that is an exemplar of pure chesed. Warm and welcoming, truly reflecting our charming hosts’ personalities, the Moradis’ residence is the picture-perfect setting for a fabulous fun-filled evening.
What raised this year’s event to a different level was the fact that AHH is now reaching hundreds of people whom they have never reached before. The AHH annual barbecue is such a positively charged, wonderful, inspiring place to be; people greet one another and introduce themselves. I met quite a number of people who told me this was the first time they were attending an AHH event and had made the trip from Manhattan, New Jersey—even Baltimore!—to support Avigdor’s Helping Hand. Several individuals confided that they came to express their gratitude to AHH’s wonderful volunteers for giving succor and support to family members, from such distant places as Toronto, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles, who had suffered the devastating loss of a spouse, and helping the surviving spouse and children to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives, with the utmost level of dignity and compassion.
Among the distinguished guests present were radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa and several elected officials and candidates campaigning for election, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who proclaimed September 1 as AHH Appreciation Day and presented the proclamation to Eli and Yitty Glaser; Congresswoman Grace Meng; Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder; Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice; and congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman, who attended the event with his fiancée.
With meticulous attention to every detail, every aspect of the evening was orchestrated to perfection—from Bilhah and David’s gracious hospitality to the beautiful music of the Aaron Teitelbaum Orchestra, to the culinary artistry of the inimitable Michael Schick, to the dazzling Chinese auction. The delicious sushi, donated by the Brach Family, was a tremendous hit, eliciting rave reviews!
Whether they were seasoned “charter guests” of AHH barbecues or first-time attendees, people were heard saying that they were “blown away” by the celebratory evening, describing it as “amazing,” “awesome,” and “tremendously inspiring.”
For AHH’s team of volunteers, the unsung heroes who dedicate themselves, heart and soul, to helping families in their darkest hours, the stunning demonstration of hakaros ha’tov served as a tremendous source of chizuk.
During the course of the evening, I spoke to several members of AHH’s extraordinary team of volunteers, who shared their thoughts about that most special of evenings.
“I’ve been part of AHH almost since its beginning,” said one volunteer who spoke on the condition that I not disclose his name. “Being a volunteer has had a tremendous positive effect on my life, and I do it with the wholehearted encouragement and support of my wife and children. So many people have approached me and other volunteers tonight, to shake my hand and thank me for helping a sister or cousin who has lost a spouse who was the major breadwinner of the family. People have been coming up to thank us all night. It gives us tremendous chizuk to continue what we are doing. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for AHH tonight. There are so many people whom I haven’t seen attend our past functions. The fact that even with all the weddings, kein yirbu, that are taking place tonight, people have made this their priority.”
Avigdor’s Helping Hand is a veritable lifeline for bereaved families during their darkest hours. They are often the first call a family makes having suffered the loss of a loved one. A disaster-relief fund, AHH has been picking up the pieces and rebuilding shattered lives, one at a time.
For those left behind, the effects of such a loss are devastating; children bereft of their precious parents, wives without their beloved husbands, and husbands without their cherished wives. Even before the economic impact begins to engulf them, the magnitude of their suffering is unbearable.
AHH seeks to provide immediate short-term financial relief to the families in our community who have suffered the loss of their primary breadwinner.
Every donation to Avigdor’s Helping Hand goes directly and completely to providing emergency financial assistance to the families. Unique in its noble mission, AHH is truly a chesed organization like no other, operating with no paid staff and no overhead.
The Ninth Annual Avigdor’s Helping Hand Labor Day Barbecue was an unforgettable evening. If you were unable to attend the event and would like to make a donation to AHH, or to obtain additional information, please call 718- 568-9720 or visit www.avigdorshelpinghand.org. Tizku l’mitzvos! v
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator. The author welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.