It is a challenging undertaking to encapsulate the commitment and sacrifice of Rabbi Aryeh and Rebbetzin Sokoloff. For 26 years, they have given of themselves in every conceivable way. They have provided spiritual and religious guidance to the entire Queens community. The Rabbi’s halachic leadership is sought throughout the local neighborhood and throughout Queens, both as head of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens (VHQ) and as a superior talmid chacham. He and the Rebbetzin have personally been involved in the journey back to Torah for literally hundreds of people. Rabbi Sokoloff’s devotion to the students of Shevach High School is legendary, as he insists on infusing not only their minds, but their hearts, with the deep awareness that they are Hashem’s children and worthy of respect and individual accomplishment.
Rabbi Sokoloff and his Rebbetzin have also led by example, becoming foster parents for Ohel Children’s Home and giving wholeheartedly of themselves, to children who needed a safe landing spot. In this way, they are among those rare few whose actions speak louder than just their words. When a crisis faces the Jewish community at home or at large, it is the Sokoloffs who arrange for a public asifah, or an all-night completion of T’hilim in their own home. These late-night T’hilim sessions are an annual event that inspires attendees and gives them each an opportunity to place their pressing bakashos before Hashem at propitious times like the night of Purim. With uncommon dedication, Rabbi Sokoloff has maintained a Motza’ei Shabbos shiur that began in-person and continues today via Zoom. It captures the souls of its listeners on a weekly basis and provides electrifying inspiration for attendees internationally.
Anyone who has been privileged to be in Kew Gardens for Simchas Torah can testify that the Rabbi and Rebbetzin throw open their doors to the entire k’hilah and all residents of the Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill communities. A non-stop streaming line awaits every person, where they will receive the undivided attention and personalized brachah by Rabbi Sokoloff and his treasured l’chayim. He is keenly aware of the particular needs and aspirations of each of these visitors, and he tailors his brachah to address those individual fervent hopes.
A few years after they joined our community, their son Sruly was born. He was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and the expectations were modified for Sruly’s upbringing. I have personally been zocheh to have all three of my own sons develop a deep and abiding affection for this young man, whom the Sokoloffs shower so much love upon. Their commitment to their son Sruly is remarkable. Rabbi Sokoloff himself refers to Sruly as “his rebbi,” as both he and the Rebbetzin share that they have learned as much from their son as they have taught him.
This list of commitment and devotion to their tzibur would not be complete without mention of Rabbi Sokoloff’s solo Friday night journeys. His Rebbetzin indulges with pride what has largely remained his hidden avodah. Rabbi Sokoloff departs from shul and goes on his familiar rounds, visiting the sick, shut-ins, the lonely, the needy and the joyful. He will arrive at your home unexpectedly on Friday night, just to congratulate you on a recent engagement, console you for the loss of a loved one, encourage you on the difficult birth of a child, or celebrate a promotion. He revels in the successes and smachos of the young people in his community as if the accomplishments and occasions were his own – because indeed they are.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a power couple to compete with these two avdei Hashem who have given so much for so many for so long.
By Daniel Mayer