Just two years after Hurricane Sandy devastated the community, displacing Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh from its former home in the Agudah of Bayswater, the yeshiva was able to host the dedication of a brand-new building, along with the celebration of a new sefer Torah, on Sunday afternoon, November 2.
As the crowd sang and danced down Bay 25th Street towards the yeshiva, hundreds of people from Far Rockaway, the Five Towns, and beyond made their way to Bayswater and joined in the celebration. The chilly temperature and brisk winds were barely noticed as the crowd joyfully escorted the sefer Torah to its new home.
The sefer was dedicated in memory of Reb Chaim Kaminetzky, z’l. Reb Chaim was a strong supporter of Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh, which his four sons all attended. Reb Chaim’s penchant for chesed at the highest level is a quality that YZA seeks to emulate and instill in its students.
Over 500 guests came to give respect and show support for the sefer Torah, the yeshiva, Reb Chaim, and the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Shaya Cohen.
Several speakers addressed the assembled crowd about Reb Chaim’s legacy, including Hillel Adelman, Charlie Harary, and Reb Chaim’s eldest son, Benzion Kaminetzky. The common theme was an account of an exemplary man who exuded extraordinary chesed every day, in every facet of his life. In his work with various tzedakah organizations and his professional life as a caterer and in nursing homes, he helped almanos and aniyim, at-risk teens, and developmentally disabled individuals. Each person was viewed as special and treated as such. As Mr. Harary mentioned, Reb Chaim’s attitude was “I’m in.” Whatever the chesed need, he was always ready. Benzion talked about his father’s close connection with the yeshiva and how its focus on mussar and commitment to the klal were in line with his own priorities.
The remainder of the program focused on Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh and the impact the new building would have on the yeshiva and the community. Rabbanim praised Rav Cohen’s total commitment to the klal and the yeshiva’s success over the past quarter-century in developing dedicated talmidei chachamim.
Rav Binyamin Kamenetzky, shlita, discussed his relationship in the late 1930s with Rav Dovid Leibowitz, zt’l, the father of Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt’l, Rav Shaya Cohen’s rebbe and the founder of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.
Rav Dovid Harris, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, spoke about the beauty and zechus of having a new makom Torah where people transform themselves into a new “Torah” on so many levels and have such a warm environment in which to grow individually.
Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, shlita, rav of the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center of Cedarhurst, talked about his long relationship with Rav Cohen. He praised Rav Cohen’s success in building the yeshiva, which has developed so many young men into b’nei Torah and mechanchim.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder spoke from a unique perspective about the actual completion of the building—since he was intimately involved in getting the plans approved and the permits issued for construction. He mentioned how he was told by colleagues that it wouldn’t happen. He was undeterred, because he knew that when you are acting for the right reasons, the proper results will follow. Assemblyman Goldfeder met with the top officials and followed through with the yeshiva until the job was done. In his remarks, Goldfeder mentioned how this characteristic is true in Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh—where the great results in developing talmidim stem from a desire to do what’s right, and the rest follows.
The program closed with Rav Shaya Cohen’s address. He discussed how the primary goal of the yeshiva is to provide talmidim with the foundational tools of learning and commitment to the klal, and once those traits are instilled, the continued growth and achievement are assured. The new building is another tool that has been given by the donors who made it a reality, and with it the yeshiva will be able to have tremendous success as a true makom Torah. Rav Cohen thanked all of those who helped make the new yeshiva campus a reality, including David Shteierman of DJ Architects, who designed the building; Nadler Modular, particularly Chesky Neiman and Sruli Muller, who constructed the building; Yossie Rubin and Zalman Schachter, the general contractors who did the site work on the campus and completed the building; Shlomo Katz, whose beautiful landscape designs have taken a blank canvas and turned it into an inviting work of art; Yossi Wittman, who performed the plumbing work for the building; Moshe Lowenstein, who constructed a beautiful aron, bimah and amud for the yeshiva; and Assemblyman Goldfeder. The yeshiva also expressed its thanks to the volunteers of the Rockaway Citizens Safety Patrol for coordinating with the NYPD, arranging to cordon off the streets and ensuring a safe event.
Rav Cohen also took the opportunity to refer back to the weeks and months following Hurricane Sandy, two years earlier, when the yeshiva’s former premises in the Agudah of Bayswater were flooded. He expressed thanks to the Jewish Heritage Center in Queens, run by Rabbis Naftali Portnoy and Moshe Turk, for taking in the yeshiva for the weeks immediately following the storm. Rav Cohen also expressed thanks to the shuls in Bayswater that hosted the yeshiva in the following months, turning over their facilities to keep the kol Torah alive in Bayswater, and to the Sternberg family, who hosted the yeshiva for over a year until the new building was completed.
Thanks were most especially reserved for the many supporters and volunteers who showed tremendous dedication, giving of their time and money to make this new campus a truly special makom Torah.
For more information about Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh and the new campus, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ZAcampus.com.