Inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Chabad of Rego Park (C.O.R.P.), run by Rabbi Eli and Shulamis Blokh, began operations in 1997 as a means to provide the growing Russian Jewish community of the area with a much-needed infusion of Judaism. The Blokhs moved from Crown Heights, launched a Hebrew school at the Lefrak Jewish Center, and held a public menorah lighting at Mesivta Ohr Torah, now home to the Beth Gavriel Community Center. Soon after, the rabbi took over the third floor of the Queens Jewish Center to operate Yamim Tovim services and head their Talmud Torah; this floor is now home to The Cheder of Queens.
By 2004, the public menorah lighting found a permanent home at the Federoff Triangle on Queens Boulevard. This past Chanukah’s lighting attracted the likes of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. The rabbi and his family’s influence are known throughout the borough and his impact is deeply felt. Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, a division of Northwell Health, also saw the impact of the Blokh family and invited the rabbi to preside over its Chanukah menorah lighting.
By Shabsie Saphirstein