Over 750 parents, alumni, and friends of the Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) joined together to celebrate 81 years of harbatzas haTorah to the Queens Jewish community with a festive Motza’ei Shabbos Dinner to support the Yeshiva’s scholarship fund. The Dinner coincided with the parshah of VaYakhel and Parshas Sh’kalim, which refers to the fundraising for and the construction of the Mishkan.
The program featured a video presentation, “Your Piece Counts,” to illustrate that just as B’nei Yisrael collaborated with their generosity when the Mishkan was assembled, so do the members of the YCQ family, each in their own way, join to help the Yeshiva thrive and grow in their mission. Thanks to Mrs. Devora Baer, YCQ Director of Grants, for conceptualizing and producing this entertaining and meaningful presentation.
In his d’var Torah prepared for delivery at the event, YCQ Principal Rabbi Mark Landsman borrowed a thought from Rav Yisocher Frand, who said that at the time of creation, Hashem reduced the size of the moon, but then, to console the moon, He added the “kochavim,” the stars, in order to console the levanah. So too, at the Yeshiva, in addition to their roles as educators, the faculty of rebbeim, moros, and teachers help the children thrive, not only in their studies, but also in their emotional health and well-being.
In his remarks, Rabbi Landsman paid special tribute to Mrs. Melissa Cohen, Elementary School Assistant Principal of General Studies at YCQ, who was the recipient of the Distinguished Educator Award, amid the enthusiastic applause of her colleagues. She was cited for her outstanding midos, compassion, and genuine concern for each student and faculty member.
Receiving the MiDor L’Dor Award were Guests of Honor Lena and Richard Harris, and their parents Riva and David Yakubov, for their long association as parents at YCQ and their heavy involvement in the Jamaica Estates community. Most notable was their tremendous growth in Yiddishkeit, having previously arrived from Tashkent, where Jewish education and observance was virtually non-existent.
Rounding out the roster of awardees were Devora and Bruce Stiefel as Parents of the Year for their multi-faceted contributions to the Yeshiva and community. A member of the YCQ Board of Education, Devora has been a mentor in the area of literacy education, imparting much knowledge and enthusiasm to the language arts teachers. Bruce has been active in the safety and security programs in the North Woodmere neighborhood.
The highlight of the evening was the performance of the Israeli musical sensation, Gad Elbaz, who offered a wide repertoire of musical selections, which were enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience.
The evening reached its crescendo with the announcement of the names of the raffle winners: $10,000 Grand Prize – Mr. Jeff Klein; Travel Package ($3,600 value) – Mr. Alexander Niyazov; Weber Grill ($1,500) – Mr. Isaac Katanov.
A robust Scroll of Honor was published to commemorate the generosity of the many contributors to the Scholarship Fund.
Dr. Joel Wein, YCQ President, opened the festivities with warm words of welcome. Rabbi Lawrence Teitelman, YCQ Parent, Member of the YCQ Board of Education, and Spiritual Leader of the Young Israel of New Hyde Park, led the guests in special t’filos on behalf of the Jews of Ukraine and the world over. Mr. Israel Glaser, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, made the award presentations to the guests of honor. Rabbi Moshe Hamel led the audience in singing the American and Israeli anthems. A Proclamation was presented to the honorees by New York State Assemblyman David Weprin. Mrs. Reize Sipzner graciously continued her service to the Yeshiva as Chairperson of the Dinner Committee, and she commended all the Dinner Committee members on a job well done.