The Young Israel of Jamaica Estates recently held its annual anniversary dinner. They feel fortunate to have been able to continue this tradition, that for most organizations came to a halt in 2020 and 2021, to pay kavod to their members who have gone above and beyond to make this k’hilah a home.
In the second mishnah of Pirkei Avos, Shimon HaTzadik writes, “The world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah, and G’milus Chasadim.” With this axiom as a backdrop, Dinner Chairperson Yael Schreiber recognized Rabbi Julius & Dorothy Berman and Rabbi Mayer and Estee Waxman as “authentic and dedicated individuals, truly devoted to the Jamaica Estates community and the larger Jewish community, and so we honor them as our Pillars.”
Following many years in Forest Hills, the Bermans relocated to the suburban feel of Jamaica Estates 14 years ago. In addition to local contributions, which include support and leadership of many YIJE educational programs, such as “Perek on the Lawn,” Scholars-in-Residence, and S’udah Sh’lishis. The Bermans reach far beyond Queens and have had a truly global impact on the greater Jewish Community through their leadership at Yeshiva University, Yeshivat Har Etzion, Amit, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, the Orthodox Union, and many more.
The Waxmans have lived, and raised their four wonderful children, in Jamaica Estates for the last 23 years. Estee has always graciously given her time from serving as Sisterhood President, YIJE Board of Directors, as well as the Housing, Welcoming, and Purim committees. Mayer has served as volunteer rav and baal t’kiah for the High Holidays for the last 20 years, and has countless shiurim and divrei Torah over the years, including the founding and leadership of the Shabbat Daf Yomi Chaburah, as well as representing YIJE as a delegate to the National Council of Young Israel. During that time, they have been active both locally and in the greater Jewish Community as Mayer’s current position as Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community Council.
A special hakaras ha’tov was also expressed to Dovid Schachner, a lifelong resident of Eastern Queens, who has volunteered at YIJE for the last 32 years, working quietly behind the scenes assisting with many aspects of the synagogue’s operation and, during the recent pandemic, taking on the responsibility for security of the shul.
Many distinguished guests, including Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman (President of Yeshiva University), Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz (the Abraham Arbesfeld Chair of the Director of the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Semikhah Program and rav of the Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere), and Rabbi Gary Menchel (Yeshiva Har Torah Head of School), were on hand as tribute videos for each honoree were screened, and gifts, citations, and proclamations were presented on behalf of the synagogue, State Assemblyman David Weprin and City Councilman James Gennaro. Outgoing YIJE President Harold Biller noted that the honorees each accepted, and generally volunteer, graciously and without fanfare or hesitation because they understand that “leadership in a shul involves allowing oneself to be in the spotlight for a moment, as uncomfortable as it feels to people who are generally so humble.”
In a video message from Yerushalayim, the YIJE Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, described how all of the “honorees are acutely attuned to the needs of others, continuously responding to those needs with open hearts and outstretched hands.” He expressed a “deep appreciation for all their extraordinary efforts for klal Yisrael and for our YIJE family.”
During his presentation to the honorees, YIJE’s mara d’asra, Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner, expressed how the “YIJE community is a place that exerts tremendous effort to foster celebration in ways that deepens my faith every single day. Our shul is more than a structure for the performance of ritual gestures; at its core is a community, even a family, committed enthusiastically to our collective mission and devoted to lifting each other’s spirits.”
A video recap of the dinner and presentations can be found at www.yije.org.