Dedicated In Memory Of Mrs. Gila Rollhaus

A bounce house, sweet swirls of cotton candy, crunchy popcorn, a shiny brand- new playground, and flower planting. What more could a child ask for?

On Sunday morning, May 14, over 300 community members gathered at the Young Israel of Queens Valley, on 77th Avenue, just off of Main Street, for the grand opening of a beautifully designed special playground that is dedicated by Mr. Michael Rollhaus in memory of his wife, Mrs. Gila Rollhaus a”h, who passed away this past February.

Mr. Rollhaus davens at this Young Israel, and he wanted to dedicate this playground in memory of his wife, as it represents her values. “I’m in the West but my heart is in the East.” She loved Eretz Yisrael, and she was passionate about making children happy. She and her husband dedicated many parks all over Israel. This is the first Gan Gila in America.

Mr. Reuben Paris, the new president of the Young Israel of Queens Valley, shared that Gan Gila is a new space for children who attend this shul with their parents. It is also open to the whole community on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The goal of the shul is to be a community hub that addresses the needs of everyone from seniors to the youngest members. He believes that a shul should be the central hub of Jewish life. The Young Israel of Queens Valley has a diverse k’hilah, and so the shul is a place to bring the community together.

The space will also be available for rental for simchos. The idea of planting at the opening was that planting and seeds represent growth. “We are always striving to grow and to address the needs of the community as the dynamics of the community change.” Today, there is a need for a sheltered space where parents feel their kids are safe to play.

Mr. Paris noted that the youth program is so special and vibrant at this Young Israel. They are the only shul that has a kids’ comic book, with an issue that will be coming out for Shavuos. The shul takes the kids’ programming seriously.

At the grand opening of Gan Gila, people commented on the incredible quality of the playground that was built in the space next to the shul.

Shul board member Yonah Kopstick was the visionary designer of the space and he saw the plan through. A lot of credit goes to his skill and research. It is the safest and highest quality playground. It is built, with Hashem’s help, to last.

At the opening, people commented, “This is so much fun, and what a great turn-out!”

We were so pleased to have retired landscaper and longtime YIQV member Mr. Jeff Zwiren guiding us on the planting for today’s event. He said, “Thanks for letting me have so much fun.”

The following people were instrumental in seeing this project to fruition:

Mrs. Chaylie Harstein pulled the program together with help from her talented sister, Sarah Leibowitz, and Chaylie’s husband, Jake, who was the resident cotton candy expert.

Moshe Verschleisser manned the popcorn machine and Avraham Silbergleit assisted with check-ins and registrations.

Mr. Yaakov Shafran was seen admiring the pitch of the newly paved cement lot, and he was happy to see the drainage was all in order after months of hard work.

Gan Gila is dedicated in memory of Mrs. Gila Rollhaus, who was born in Eretz Yisrael and came to the United States at the age of two. She is an inspiring role model, with all of her many chesed projects and volunteer work. She paid people’s mortgages and helped women with difficult marriages, both financially and emotionally, and did so much more. She was a person of action. May this beautiful playground continue her memory and legacy of chesed and love of Israel and of children, and may her family, friends, and community be comforted with the mourners of Tzion.

 By Susie Garber