By Chanita Teitz
I am now in a state of limbo. That’s what I call the point where I am not totally ready to start cooking, but there’s also no chametz left in the house. Basically, there’s nothing to eat. Every night is a different “take out.” Most of the counters are ready to be covered, but a few things still have to be put away, and there are things to be brought upstairs from the basement.
Once I finish “turning over” it still takes me a while to acclimate myself. Where do I start? Peeling veggies for the soups, making the crepes for the lokshen or popping a few roasts into the oven? That’s when memories come to mind of years gone by when my children were little and my mother and grandmother were with me and helped me with the cooking. My grandmother peeled all the vegetables and pounds of potatoes. My mother cleaned chickens, cleaned the horseradish for the marror, and did a million other things.
Invariably, at least one child got sick erev Pesach and I had to spend time in the doctor’s office. But I knew that my mother had things under control at home.
The last time my mother came for Pesach, she was too weak to do much. I cried for the change in my life as I took over on my own.
Last year I was just out of my cast, so my grandchildren took turns helping me and I hope they come again to help peel veggies, bake some brownies, and set the tables.
I am so inspired when I think for a moment that all over the world, most Jews will sit down to some form of a Pesach Seder as we have for over 3,000 years, in good times and bad, gathered together, asking why this night is different. Pesach is truly the “king” of all our holidays. Enjoy your families and cherish the memories.
Chazaq, Chazaq: High-Profile Kiruv Organization Holds Second Annual ‘Big Event’ in Queens
By Daniel Perez
This year’s “Big Event” by the renowned Jewish outreach group Chazaq certainly lived up to its name, as well over a thousand people flooded into the auditorium of Forest Hills High School on Sunday night, March 30, for an evening of inspiration and entertainment.
Founded in 2006 by Rabbis Ilan and Yaniv Meirov, Chazaq’s offerings include educational programs (classes and one-on-one learning) for men and women of all ages, youth groups, a variety of family-oriented publications, and even a shidduch service—just to name a few. And under the dynamic leadership of the Meirov brothers and their colleagues, Chazaq has quickly become a household name among the Queens Jewish community.
Chazaq’s motto is “To Build a Stronger Future,” and it was clearly with this ethos in mind that the “Big Event” was created. A sea of fresh, young faces could be seen, enjoying equally the words of mussar offered by a distinguished line-up of lecturers, and the entertainment, which included master illusionist Marc Garfinkel and frum music sensation The Chevra. But it wasn’t just the leaders of tomorrow who were in the house. Also in attendance to show their support were BP Melinda Katz (who issued a government proclamation declaring March 30th “Chazaq Day” in the Borough of Queens), Congresswoman Grace Meng, and New York City Councilman Rory Lancman.
The dignitaries attending the “Big Event” came from both near and far. We caught up with Israeli Knesset Member R’ Nissim Ze’ev, a Chazaq supporter and personal friend of the Meirovs. Ze’ev spoke of the significance of so many people coming together to support a Torah cause on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the month of Passover. “This is the first month of the year that we have to bring the Torah and the geulah of Am Yisrael this month. … And that’s why we are here; we are coming to accept the geulah, be’ezrat Hashem.”
At the heart of the evening’s proceedings were presentations by respected Jewish figures such as investor-turned-motivational speaker and media personality Charlie Harary, and a highly-esteemed procession of rabbanim, including crowd favorites Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein and Rabbi Paysach Krohn, along with Rabbi Yitzchak Oelbaum, who chaired the event. The theme of freedom, central to the Pesach holiday, was a popular one throughout the evening. Mr. Harary exhorted the audience that if people want to be free from the weaknesses and personal obstacles keeping them from personal fulfillment, one need simply “act free.”
“Our holidays are not commemorative,” declared Harary, noting that each holiday is intended to be a transformative personal experience – which is why, he explains, the first Pesach Seder took place prior to the Exodus from Egypt, rather than on the first anniversary thereof.
Though presented with a tough act to follow, the rabbis whose speeches followed Harary’s words were certainly up to the task. Regaling the audience with a variety of parables and personal anecdotes, the evening served as one big call to action, both in the attendees’ spiritual lives and in support of the vital work of Chazaq.
“A thousand Jewish kids come to this [public] school every day!” Rabbi Krohn lamented. “And if we don’t get involved in kiruv, and we don’t help Chazaq help these kids come back, we are not only losing a thousand kids—we’re losing tens of thousands, because we’re losing their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.” Still, the overall tone of the event was emphatically positive, with Rabbi Krohn—in awe of Chazaq’s accomplishments—remarking later that same evening: “If someone told me that Mashiach was coming tomorrow, I would believe it.”
Divrei bracha by the famed Rav Noach Isaac Oelbaum were read to the audience by Mr. Boruch Singer, and a dramatic video presentation served to underscore the significance of the “Big Event” in terms of making the ongoing work of Chazaq possible. Fresh from their success of last year’s sefer Torah campaign (the organization created a Torah scroll with letters filled in by numerous gedolei ha’dor), Chazaq is currently promoting its “A Teen for Eighteen” initiative, whereby community members may partner with Chazaq’s highly-successful after-school programs for local teenagers by sponsoring a teen for only eighteen dollars a month. The “Big Event” raised funds for that program, but efforts are ongoing.
To learn more about how Chazaq is building a stronger future for the Jewish community or to join their efforts, visit their website at chazaq.org or call 917-617-3636.
B’Kavod Gets Approval
B’Kavod is now an approved social adult day program.
“This is a project that not just identifies a need, but is doing something about it,” stated Rechel Schoenfeld, LMSW, at B’Kavod’s inaugural event. “It is beautiful,” touted Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff, “designed specifically to provide meaningful activity for our community, our frum elders. Your parents deserve this!”
As a social adult program, its aim is to provide structured activities to frail seniors who have mobility limitations and/or the beginnings of cognitive impairment. Ideal beneficiaries may also be elders who had once been active in shul and communal activities and no longer or rarely participate. Many such programs are in operation throughout the metropolitan area. It is extremely difficult to get approval at this time. B’Kavod is the only program in Queens County that focuses primarily on Orthodox Jewish clientele.
Centrally located in Kew Gardens Hills, B’Kavod promises to improve physical and mental health of these frail seniors, ease the burden to family caregivers, and reduce and/or delay the need for institutional long-term care. “It is heartwarming,” observes Rabbi Becker, program founder, “to see a Talmudist participate in group exercises who knowingly in any other environment would refrain from doing so, or a Holocaust survivor who initially resisted attendance and now makes certain that her family has arranged for her [to attend].”
As its name suggests, B’Kavod is dedicated to bringing deserved joy and comfort to Queens community elders. It is a member of the CenterLight Health and FidelisCare Networks. For additional information call 646-543-9818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t Throw Out Your Chametz
If you have chametz left over, don’t throw it out! Donate it to Tomchei Shabbos of Queens.
When: Sunday, April 13 (morning of bedikas chametz) 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Where: 85-19 Abingdon Road (one block past Shaare Tova), Kew Gardens
What: Any UNOPENED, non-perishable, packaged food, with good expiration dates. We will also be accepting checks for Maos Chittin. Thank you! Chag Kasher V’Sameach!
Etta Krinsky, a fourth grade student at BYQ, will be published in the Grannie Annie book of 2014! The Grannie Annie contest is a national contest for students to submit stories of their ancestors. The contest was introduced to BYQ students in the fourth grade by one of the fourth grade teachers, Mrs. Evelyn Hefetz. “My granddaughter in Baltimore told me about it and subsequently I asked Mrs. Bergman and Mrs. Reisbaum if we could submit work to it. They readily agreed to challenge the students to participate.”
This year, more than 50 girls in the fourth grade participated. The girls interviewed their relatives, wrote, edited, and rewrote the stories. Back in January, Mrs. Hefetz and Mrs. Ziskind, fourth grade teachers, submitted their students’ work. The girls in Mrs. Hefetz’s class expanded the project with a collection of pictures and recipes from their ancestors. The girls’ work was bound into a book for each student.
Students also contributed to creating a story quilt. The quilt, made of felt squares, is just another way for the students to express their creativity in telling their families’ stories. “I loved interviewing my grandmother, who told me about her grandmother,” said one fourth grader.
“I shared my family’s favorite cookie recipe so everyone could try it!” said another student.
Then, one week ago, Mrs. Hefetz was notified that one of her students was going to be published! Ms. Sarah Blumenfeld, Program Director of The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration wrote, “We’re so pleased that you submitted your students’ stories to the Grannie Annie this year! Our heartiest congratulations for having a student selected for publication! As you may have heard, we’ve sent congratulatory e-mails to the soon-to-be-published authors. We look forward to receiving stories from Bais Yaakov again next year!”
Congratulations to Etta Krinsky on her accepted and published work. Bais Yaakov is truly proud! v
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail email@example.com.