Walking into The Sands at Atlantic Beach on Monday night, January 16, was a surreal experience. Outside it was frigid—the wind chill brought the temperature down to well below zero. Inside, visitors were met by springlike conditions, as flowers bloomed on every surface, place cards “grew” in small patches of neatly mown grass, dinner tables and presentation boards displayed the eye-catching BBY flower, and even the mechitzah was a magnificent exhibit of flowers.
The theme of blooming and blossoming was so appropriate. As the evening unfolded, the BBY story emerged through the voices of administrators, board members, parents, and children. BBY is a nurturing place, an environment in which children are able to thrive and grow, to bloom and blossom.
As the massive crowd of 1,000 guests enjoyed the sumptuous repast artfully arranged at the smorgasbord, they had the opportunity to mingle with friends. With reluctance, the crowd moved to the dinner tables. But reluctance turned quickly to delight. Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, rav and world-renowned speaker, opened the program with his impassioned words about the importance of empowering every girl with a love of Yiddishkeit and feelings of self-worth and belonging. These feelings, asserted Rabbi Shapiro, will help a girl grow into a strong and secure woman capable of establishing a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. Rabbi Shapiro confirmed that from everything he’s seen and heard about BBY, it is exactly the kind of school that can engender those feelings in its talmidos. With his powerful presentation, Rabbi Shapiro validated the pride of all in attendance at belonging to such a worthy institution.
The presentations that followed were heartfelt, articulate, and laden with massive doses of hakaras ha’tov. Led by master of ceremonies Dr. Akiva Bergman, the program continued apace and the messages came through loudly and clearly. Hakaras ha’tov was expressed to so many deserving people: gratitude to Mr. Jason Cury and Mr. Joel Beritz for their unstinting help in providing BBY with state-of-the-art academic equipment; appreciation to Mrs. Malka Fishman and Mrs. Leah Bachon for organizing the magnificent dinner; kudos to the members of the parent committee who volunteer massive amounts of time and energy to BBY; and a surprise tribute to Mr. Lloyd Keilson for his behind-the-scenes efforts on behalf of BBY. Deserving the greatest thanks were the three members of the board of trustees—Mr. Sam Bergman, Mr. Moshe Hirth, and Mr. Mel Zachter. These gentlemen, all of whom have busy, productive lives of their own, assumed the responsibility for the smooth running of Bnos Bais Yaakov. Out of a sense of achrayus to the klal and to the girls of BBY, Mr. Bergman, Mr. Hirth, and Mr. Zachter turned their lives upside down and inside out to be available at all times and in all situations for BBY and its personnel. The applause for these gracious gentlemen was appropriately rousing.
And, finally, the guests of honor expressed hakarasha’tov of their own. Mr. and Mrs. Shabse Fuchs, Kesser Shem Tov awardees, were fulsome in their praise for their children’s teachers and principals. Rabbi and Mrs. Moshe Bender, Parents of the Year, expressed their delight at the wholesomeness of the BBY environment and the superior academic program that it provides.
In a moving surprise presentation by the children of Mr. and Mrs. Berish Fuchs, the lobby of the BBY school building was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Hannah Fuchs’s mother, Mrs. Miriam Reinberg, great-grandmother to a lovely bunch of Edelstein, Fuchs, and Ostreicher BBY talmidos. As Mr. Edelstein mentioned during his presentation, it will be a z’chus for the children to walk through the “Ohel Miriam”—certainly for the great-grandchildren, but for all the other BBY talmidos as well.
The video presentation was professionally rendered by Mr. Chananya Kramer of Kol Rom Studios. Aside from the usual expressions of delight at recognizing the face of a beloved daughter in the video, the audience greatly appreciated Mr. Kramer’s artistic portrayal of the “blossoming” theme. With petals and flowers strewn about on screen and a stunning visual demonstration of a budding flower, the idea hit home viscerally—BBY is a school in which girls grow and blossom, using the nutrients provided to maximize their potential in ruchniyus and academics.
(For photos from the event, please see pages 22–23 in this week’s 5TJT.)