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News From The Hills

By Chanita Teitz

For the past two months, the news has been depressing, although when it comes to news about Israel, it’s been depressing for a long time. But we can’t let ourselves become disheartened. With Hashem’s help, we will survive as we have for over 2,000 years, despite attempts to annihilate us in every generation. So I would like to focus on something that makes me very happy. My kids are coming!

My son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren are flying as I write. One of the sacrifices people make to live in Israel is being far away from family. We usually visit them, but now all of our children will get to spend time together and our grandchildren will get to know each other.

I also experienced a mother’s pride last week reading an article in Ami magazine that highlighted an interview with my younger son about the work he is doing for Project Mesorah, helping boys who are falling through the cracks find a yeshiva that is right for them.

Doing for others, chesed, is the backbone of Klal Yisrael and we’ve seen it more in the past two months than ever before. Everyone rallied behind the soldiers as if each one was a member of our own family and we showed our admiration and gratitude for the risks they were taking for all Klal Yisrael.

Our own locally based organization, Chickens for Shabbos, together with Yad Eliezer, went above and beyond in providing needed items for soldiers and for families living near the Gaza Strip.

Chaim Kurz of Kew Gardens Hills initiated the “Boots Campaign,” providing boots to soldiers whose boots were worn out. Although the soldiers get boots from the army, they are extremely uncomfortable and fixed many times.

A mother of one of the soldiers called Yad Eliezer and asked if they could put together money for boots. Her son and his group of 21 soldiers all needed good boots. Most of them could not afford to pay at all and she insisted that her son would not get new boots if the others were wearing the inadequate ones.

Chickens for Shabbos took up the challenge. Within two days, the money for the boots, $5,800, was collected and the boots were ordered and delivered.

Was there ever a war fought with such care and concern for those who are truly sacrificing their lives for the good of Klal Yisrael?

Robbie Neuman emphasized that Chickens for Shabbos concentrates on agunos, yesomim, mechanchim, and soldiers. There are absolutely no organization expenses. Every penny donated goes directly to buying the necessities for these families. Tizku l’mitzvos!

The Spanish-Speaking Jewess Group

Who could have imagined that a group of seven Spanish-speaking Jewish ladies, who first gathered in a small restaurant in Kew Gardens Hills to have lunch, would branch out to include over 30 women from Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Latin America? To top that, they found a rabbi to teach them Torah in Spanish and honored their leader—all within the span of less than seven months.

With Hashem’s help, Sarah Rakofsky, the group’s founder, managed to reach out to women of all ages and backgrounds who now attend the Spanish-speaking group’s luncheons on a monthly basis. Some women have found out about this unique group through articles written in the local Jewish newspapers. Some have responded to ads in the KGH Shuls Yahoo group inviting Spanish-speaking women to attend the group’s luncheons, and others have received invitations to be participate in the group from their friends and family. While many women have been contacted through word of mouth and advertising, others have met for the first time at Shabbatons and local stores.

Women like Esther Valladares from Ecuador are happy to come in from Brooklyn to connect with this special group of women who give her much chizuk. Others like Ceci Bressler from Peru come in from West Hempstead just to be able to speak their native language with other Jewesses like themselves. There are also women like Esther Koppel, whose native language is not Spanish, but who likes to practice it and learn from hearing it spoken. Initially, Magda Gruenglas from Bolivia was hesitant to be part of the group, thinking that she might be older than the rest. However, she found she fits right in with others her age and younger. In these ways, the group has been successful in its inclusiveness.

This past June, Sarah Rakofsky was honored at the journal dinner for Havurat Yisrael in Forest Hills, led by Rabbi David Algaze. The rabbi, who gives the Spanish-speaking group its shiurim in Spanish at its monthly luncheons, presented Sarah with a community service award for her efforts in organizing and creating this very unique group.

The mission and vision of the Spanish-speaking ladies group is to connect women through Torah study and Torah-related activities. These activities are related, but not limited, to tzedakah, doing mitzvot such as visiting the sick, supporting the needy, involving each other in community service, and finding shidduchim.

Most importantly, the group aspires to create a distinguishable presence and influential resource, both offline and online, for the Spanish-speaker who wishes to learn about practicing authentic Judaism.

An official website is in the works, and the group will be connected to Havurat Yisrael led by Rabbi David Algaze. The rabbi plans to eventually form a kiruv center for Spanish-speaking Jews.

One hurdle the Spanish-speaking Jewess group needs to overcome is to stop calling themselves the Spanish-speaking Jewess Group. These ladies need a catchy name for their organization. They are now turning to the public for suggestions and have announced a name-that-group contest. If you have an idea for a great name, please contact Alicia Hassin from Havurat Yisrael at or call 718-261-5500 by August 25.

If your suggestion is chosen as the new name for the Spanish-speaking Jewess Group, you’ll win a $20 gift card to Carlos & Gabby’s Glatt Kosher Mexican Grill in Kew Gardens Hills. If none of the suggestions ends up as the new name for the group, all the participants who sent in suggestions will be entered into a raffle for the gift card. You can’t lose!

Past Events

Chazaq’s Tishah B’Av Marathon. On Tishah B’Av (August 4 and 5) approximately 1,000 people streamed into the Beth Gavriel Center throughout the solemn day for a one-of-a-kind Tishah B’Av Marathon. The inspirational event was presented by the prominent Chazaq organization and featured over 14 lectures.

The program started on Monday night with a moving speech by Mickey Zivan, the roommate of murdered Israeli teen Eyal Yifrach, Hy’d. He was followed by R’ Yossi Mizrachi (director of Divine Information).

The following day, lectures were given by R’ Benzion Klatzko (founder of; R’ Israel Itshakov (rabbi of the Beth Gavriel Youth Minyan), R’ Benzion Shafier (director of the Shmuz); R’ Ilan Meirov (director of Chazaq); R’ Yitzchok Oelbaum (son of the renowned Rav Noach Isaac Oelbaum); R’ Akiva Rutenberg and R’ Mordechai Kraft (co-directors of Emet); R’ Daniel Gladstein (rabbi of Congregation Toras Emes); R’ Eliyahu Bergstein (Discovery Seminars); R’ Doniel Baron (senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah); R’ Dovid Lefkowitz (rabbi from Maryland); R’ Chaim Eisenstein (Yeshiva Netiv Aryeh); and R’ Igal Haimoff (rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ohel Simcha).

Aside from the impressive schedule of renowned rabbis and speakers, the Chazaq program also offered a free shatnez-checking to the community.

The event was dedicated by the Nazaroff family in memory of their mother, Esther bat Sara.

Upcoming Events

YI KGH Shabbos Shiurim. On Shabbos afternoon, August 16, men and women are invited to attend two lectures. The first, part of the Summer Shabbos afternoon lecture series will begin at 5:35 p.m. in the beis midrash. Rabbi Jay Hill’s talk is entitled “It’s Not About Kashrus.” At 6:35 p.m., Reb Yehoshua Konig will speak in the main shul about his experience serving in the Israeli army last month. Followed by Minchah at 7:25 p.m.

Chazaq Women’s Division presents “Finding the Purpose of Your Life” with Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. Sunday night, August 17. Admission is free (suggested donation $10). Food will be served at 8:00 p.m. Lecture scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Location: Beth Gavriel Center, 66-35 108th St. in Forest Hills. For more information, call 718-285-9132 or e-mail Event is dedicated in loving memory of Ronit bat Anya.

Meet the Matchmaker Event. Wednesday evening, August 20, 7:30–10:00 p.m. Location: Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, 83-10 188th St. in Jamaica Estates. For ages 20–39. Meet multiple matchmakers during a 45-minute session, allowing matchmakers to better understand your needs and ensure more frequent and accurate matches. Preference will be given to those who pre-register. Pre-registration slots are limited. Cost: free for pre-registration; $10 at the door.

To register for the event, send an e-mail with your first and last name, telephone number, and SawYouAtSinai/YUConnects username (if already a member) to

Young Israel of Holliswood Women’s Rosh Chodesh Series, “The Message of Elul.” Presented by Mrs. Shira Smiles, world-renowned, sought-after lecturer from Israel. Monday, August 25, 8:30 p.m. Location: 86-25 Francis Lewis Boulevard. Sponsored by the Pieri & Weltz families in memory of Ruby and Robin’s mother, Frances Uliss, Freida Golda bat Chaim.

Queens Jewish Community Council presents Music Under the Stars at Cunningham Park. Location: 196th Street and Union Turnpike. 7:00 p.m. August 20, Zalmen Mlotek’s Magical World of Yiddish Song, August 27, Bukharian/International Festival. Bring your own blanket or chair.

Appreciating the Oneness: The impact of Elul on our lives with Mrs. Shira Smiles. Tuesday, August 26, 8:00 p.m. at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel, Kew Gardens Hills.


To Joel Rada and family on the petirah of his mother.

HaMakom yinachem eschem b’soch sha’ar aveilei Tzion v’Yerushalayim.

Mazal Tov . . .

To Menachem and Sharon Petrushka on the marriage of their daughter, Gila, to Alan Goldberg of Woodmere. ϖ

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

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Posted by on August 14, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.