Over 900 people attended Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Queens’s 81st Annual Dinner at Terrace on the Park in Queens this past Sunday. The energy was tangible as the evening’s program and speakers inspired the large crowd. The range of emotions ran from excited to poignant, from pride in the yeshiva’s past accomplishments to inspiration and chizuk to continue the holy mission of the yeshiva.
Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, the dinner chairman, acted as the master of ceremonies. The program began with Tehillim on behalf of the serious matzav of acheinu bnei Yisrael in EretzYisrael. Rabbi Ginzberg declared that our response to the brutal attacks against us has to be our continued support of limudhaTorah. Rabbi Ginzberg then introduced Rav Akiva Grunblatt, shlita, roshyeshiva. Rav Grunblatt spoke about the vision of Rav Dovid Leibowitz, zt’l, who founded the yeshiva in the midst of the Great Depression with a vision of building a makomTorah that would produce talmidim who would dedicate their lives to spreading Torah to Klal Yisrael.
Rav Grunblatt then spoke about his father, Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, zt’l, who passed away a year ago. He thanked everyone for sharing stories about his father, which provided chizuk for the family during the year of aveilus. This was followed by a moving video about his father’s leadership and influence on the American Jewish community over the past 50 years. A presentation was made to the family as the yeshiva dedicated and renamed the halacha library in the beismidrash as the Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, zt’lHalacha Library.
Following this, Dr. Allan Jacob, the yeshiva’s chairman of the board, spoke about the incredible koach of emes by first portraying the koach of sheker. There have been false assumptions and theories that have been accepted as fact and remained unchallenged for centuries. The koach of emes is even stronger; the Yiddisheneshamah can be enveloped in an atmosphere of sheker but still responds when exposed by the emes of Torah, as evidenced by the success of the yeshiva’s alumni in kiruvrechokim.
The yeshiva recognized the accomplishments of the 17 musmachim who received the yeshiva’s Yoreh Yoreh Yadin Yadin Semicha. This milestone was achieved after many years of intense learning at the yeshiva and is certainly a cause for celebration. The yeshiva also honored Rabbi and Mrs. Gershon Brafman of Kew Gardens Hills as Alumnus of the Year; Dr. and Dr. Sheldon Greenberg of Hillcrest as Parents of the Year; and Rabbi and Mrs. Yoni Schwartz of Cedarhurst as Young Leadership Awardee.
The dinner theme was “Transmitting Torah. Transforming Communities.” Over the past 81 years, the yeshiva has produced inspired and passionate graduates who have impacted and transformed dozens of communities across the length and breadth of North America. The yeshiva’s affiliate yeshivos, day schools, shuls, and learning centers continue to bring the teachings of our Torah to ever-increasing numbers of our Jewish brethren. A video presentation was shown that highlighted six successful kiruv organizations founded by talmidim of the yeshiva, providing a glimpse into the impressive scope of the kiruv being done by alumni of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. It also recognized six National Ambassadors of Kiruv, key individuals whose involvement has enabled these organizations to majorly impact the growth of Torah in each of their communities. The outreach organizations featured were Emet Outreach in Kew Gardens Hills, NY; JEC South Florida in Boca Raton, FL; JEP of Westchester in Westchester County, NY; JET Ottawa in Ottawa, ON, Canada; SAJE in Buffalo Grove, IL; and Southwest Torah Institute in Tucson, AZ. Mr. Roman Aminov, Esq., Dr. Eli Feen, Mr. Richard Goldstein, Mr. Dan Greenberg, Mr. Marvin Hilf, and Mr. Ron Sirt were recognized as National Ambassadors of Kiruv.
The evening ended with a captivating message from Mr. Don Ghermezian, national honorary chairman. He spoke emotionally about the need to channel the passion we invest in our business pursuits into building Torah institutions. “We don’t need more shopping malls; we need more kiruvkollelim!” He praised the unique middos and dedication of the alumni of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim which enable them to play a major role in spreading Torah across North America. His powerful words were a fitting conclusion to the evening of inspiration and support for this illustrious yeshiva.