On Monday evening, October 14, a gala buffet journal dinner was catered by Traditions at Manhattan Beach Jewish Center in Brooklyn. Renowned speaker Rabbi Jonathan Rietti paid tribute to Rachel Imeinu at the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation’s 19th Annual Commemoration of her yahrtzeit.
The senior Gateways lecturer, descendant of the Ben Ish Chai, and son of the famous British actor Robert Rietti, known as ‘The Man of a Thousand Voices’ and ‘King of the Dubbers,’ gave a dramatic presentation on the relationship of Rachel Imeinu to the final geulah. He spoke about how she, who made such selfless sacrifices on behalf of her sister Leah, will be there for Bnei Yisrael in those final moments before the final redemption, pleading with Hashem on their behalf.
The lecture was but one of the highlights at the RCRF’s annual gala dinner commemorating Rachel Imeinu’s yarhtzeit on the 11th of MarCheshvan 5774 at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center in Brooklyn.
The nonprofit organization, which successfully lobbied the Knesset for armored buses to Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, also donated two sifrei Torah to Kever Rachel, and eventually bought the building next door to the tomb, naming it Beit Bnei Rachel. There it runs a women’s learning center, lecture series, simcha hall, and aliyah museum.
At the fundraising dinner, which helps pay for RCRF’s activities at Beit Bnei Rachel, the organization’s founder, Evelyn Haies, paid tribute to a host of honorees. Rabbi Yechezkel Pikus, the executive director of COJO of Flatbush, was honored with the community chesed award, presented by longtime community activist Chaim Deutsch. Mitchell Shapiro, Esq, an award-winning lawyer, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation, was honored with the Rachel Imeinu Activist Award.
The late Andrea Hana Haimowitz, who had been a longtime participant, and organizer of RCRF’s events at Kever Rachel, was honored posthumously for her work on behalf of the organization. Her mother, father, and brother accepted the Rachel Imeinu Memorial Recognition Award in her stead in what turned out to be a very moving ceremony.
Other honorees included Mark Langfan, Esq., chairman of AFSI, who was commended for his maps, and work defending Israel from its critics, and Stephen and Fran Epstein, a Brooklyn couple who built a Zionist Museum at Brooklyn’s Kingsway Jewish Center.
The Young Leadership Award went to Esther Lamm, daughter of Russian refuseniks, who is now the director of development at RAJE, where she is active building a strong alumni base and community for young Russian Jews.
The gala buffet dinner was capped off with a Jewish Mother’s Day dessert buffet, featuring an enormous Kever Rachel cake, and a very spirited kumzitz with radio host Dov Shurin, who roused the crowd with his electric guitar, singing lively songs about Rachel Imeinu, and a crowd favorite, “Am Yisrael Chai.”
Tax-deductible donations to Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation can be made to RCRF, 60 West End Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235. RCRF founder Evelyn Haies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations make sure no one is turned away from celebrating their bas mitzvah, wedding, sheva berachos, brit milah, birthday, anniversary, memorial lecture, rosh chodesh shiurim, hafrashat challah classes, amen sessions, singles meet and mingle, open mike session sing ins and speak outs, Tehillim therapy, art classes, and more at Beit Bnei Rachel, inside the Kever Rachel’s Tomb Walled Complex. v