Following a week of hype amongst the members of Chaverim of Queens and Great Neck, a unique experience was had by all, with a delicious to’ameha this past Friday afternoon, July 22, in the beis midrash of Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun in Kew Gardens Hills.
I will be honest: This was my first official to’ameha, and one that will be remembered spent with dear chaverim. In my youth, I was privileged to visit the Catskills as a camper and staff member at popular sleepaway camps, but since returning from my yeshivah learning in Eretz Yisrael, I have not been to the country in the summer months. The coordinators at Chaverim understand the sacrifice of its members who are around the Queens area in these summer months, when most of their friends and colleagues are Upstate. As a small token of appreciation, the to’ameha was organized on an Erev Shabbos to acknowledge those who spend summer at home, including the weekends when many opt to vacation.
“There are even members who give up the opportunity to go Upstate in order to stay in the city specifically to take incoming hotline calls,” explained Avigdor Cyperstein, Vice President and co-founder of the organization. “These volunteers rise to cover the needs of our community when others are traveling.” Cyperstein’s company, Outsource-USA.com, was an event co-sponsor.
The concept of to’ameha was recently popularized by Queens-born Jewish singing sensation Joey Newcomb with his song of the same name. In honoring the holy Shabbos, he calls out, “Heilige chevrah, let me tell about the heilige Reb Aharon Karliner. He would sit Friday night and he would look at all the Yidden and he would say: ‘Maybe you tasted the fish for Shabbos. Maybe you tasted the soup for Shabbos. Maybe you tasted the chicken for Shabbos.’ Then he would look at everyone and he would say: ‘Did anybody here, did anyone taste Shabbos? Did anyone taste Shabbos for Shabbos?’ So, tzu’zamin chevrah, let’s taste Shabbos together.”
On Friday, seated amongst friends, we had the chance to bring in Shabbos with the taste of a kiddush that included an array of herring and crackers courtesy of The Rebbe’s Choice, along with cookies and other delights co-sponsored by Seasons Supermarket and Wasserman Supermarket. However, the most succulent flavoring were several briskets masterly sliced and cured by Reb Mordechai Striks, our area meat maven, who allowed the meats to smoke overnight. Striks, also an event sponsor, is widely known as a real estate salesperson for the renowned Astor Brokerage.
The palate took a well-deserved trip from Friday night through Shalosh S’udos. Honored guests included over a dozen Chaverim volunteers; Aaron Cyperstein, President of Chaverim; Moshe Vatch (and his daughter), Coordinator at Chaverim; Rabbi Aloni Russek, master m’chaneich at YCQ; and Jonathan Shalom, managing attorney at Shalom Law.
By Shabsie Saphirstein, member Chaverim of Queens and Great Neck