While New Yorkers move on with their lives after the devastation of the hurricane, some victims of Sandy are still suffering. Even local, state, and federal officials who promised help are having difficulty remembering their initial promises of assistance. There is one institution, Congregation Beth Sholom of Lawrence, nestled in the midst of one of the hardest-hit areas, that has not forgotten their neighbors or their neighboring communities.
This year as they celebrate their 61st anniversary, CBS has been urged by their 2013 testimonial dinner honorees, Melodie and Marty Scharf, to do even more. For the first time, CBS has pledged to donate proceeds from their raffle to local victims of Hurricane Sandy. “The storm wasn’t just a hiccup for some,” says Marty Scharf, “for many it was a devastating reversal in their entire lives.” Scharf continues, “People have lost their businesses; some have children that had to switch schools, or who have used their pension funds to survive and rebuild. We have to keep these people in mind, even while the rest of us continue to live our lives.”
According to Lester Henner, dinner chairman, based on last year’s receipts, they expect the raffle to exceed $20,000. Henner says, “Usually we use those proceeds for temple expenses, but this year they are required elsewhere a bit more.” Congregation Beth Sholom is one of the region’s most ardent supporters of people in need. In addition to participating weekly in food distribution for the needy for the Sabbath through its Tomchei Shabbos program, it also distributes cash weekly by Rabbi Hain, Congregation Beth Sholom’s spiritual leader, through the “Rabbi’s Fund.” Congregation Beth Sholom also opened its doors and fed anyone in need during the power outage affecting the South Shore of Long Island and Queens.
Under the guidance of Rabbi Kenneth Hain, Congregation Beth Sholom has become a powerhouse that wields its influence in many ways that help Jewish causes. Rabbi Hain, hailed as one of the “Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America” by Newsweek Magazine, has made sure that issues important to the Jewish community are on the agenda in Washington D.C., in Albany, and at City Hall. Congregation Beth Sholom is well known for the enormous sums raised for Jewish causes like The United Jewish Appeal as well as the diversity of influential guest speakers from the highest levels of politics, religion, Israel, the United States, and Europe.
Despite all the lofty arenas Congregation Beth Sholom participates in, Rabbi Hain is gratified that even though the annual synagogue dinner usually fundraises for its own budget, he has members like Melodie and Marty that never forget the individual neighbors in need. Hain commented, “It’s crucial that we look at the big communal picture, but we mustn’t forget that the community is made up of individuals, and right now, these individuals are hungry, scared, and they need help. Congregation Beth Sholom is dedicated to one person, one family, one day at a time.”
The proceeds of the raffle will be distributed through the Community Assistance Fund as well as CBS’ charity fund. The Congregation Beth Sholom 61st annual testimonial dinner will take place on Saturday, March 2, 8:15 p.m. at the synagogue. To make a dinner reservation or contribution in honor of Melodie and Marty Scharf, or to purchase a raffle whose proceeds will benefit Hurricane Sandy victims, please contact Congregation Beth Sholom at 390 Broadway, Lawrence, NY 11559; 516-569-3600; or firstname.lastname@example.org