Over 750 guests gathered at the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation to celebrate the 82nd Anniversary Dinner of the Yeshiva of Central Queens on Motza’ei Shabbos, February 25. Valerie and Alex Olsen were the esteemed Guests of Honor, and Mrs. Esther Lowinger received the Distinguished Educator Award. Additionally, tribute was paid to the legendary Rabbi Menachem Rottenberg z”l, who served as YCQ’s Executive Director for close to 40 years. The evening’s theme was “Remembering Our Past, Celebrating Our Present, and Building Our Future.”
After a delicious buffet dinner, catered by RAM, the program began with greetings from YCQ’s President, Dr. Joel Wein. The audience was then directed to the large screens throughout the venue, whereby Israel Glaser, Chairman of the Board, presented an elegant Kos shel Eliyahu to Mr. Neil Sonenberg in recognition of his devoted service as the longtime former Treasurer of the YCQ Board of Trustees.
The featured presentation highlighted the theme of the evening, beginning with a timeline of the illustrious history of YCQ, followed by recollections from administrators, students, teachers, parents, and alumni, describing what YCQ meant to them.
In his comments, Rabbi Mark Landsman, principal of YCQ, stated, “Our Yeshiva stands for a tradition of enthusiastic Torah observance. Its goal is to provide our students the necessary skills to pursue any dream, ambition, and aspiration. The mission of the Founding Fathers of YCQ was to offer a well-rounded education with a foundation built on a love of Torah, a love for mitzvos, and a love for Medinat Yisrael. YCQ is continuing this mesorah and, b’ezras Hashem, will continue to do so well into the future.”
Mrs. Esther Lowinger, the Distinguished Educator Awardee, was recognized for her decades-long commitment to the Yeshiva. Her family, colleagues, and former students shared their memories and appreciation for everything she has done in her years as a teacher and administrator. Mrs. Lowinger was also presented with an album of gratitude and appreciation from her current students. Rabbi Landsman noted how appropriate it was that the Dinner was taking place shortly before the holiday of Purim. Just as Esther, the heroine of the Megillah, stepped up to the plate when the Jewish people needed her, so, too, Mrs. Esther Lowinger did the same for the YCQ community.
In introducing the esteemed Guests of Honor, a film recognizing Valerie and Alex Olsen’s connection and contributions to YCQ was shown. Mrs. Olsen, a YCQ graduate, followed in the footsteps of her prominent mother, Mrs. Marilyn Schwartz, who was very active in the Parents Association. During Valerie’s tenure at the helm of the PTO, she introduced many new programs, including the Challah Bake, Family Fun Day, and Parents’ Night Out, as well as the revival of the Winter Carnival, which have since become annual PTO programs. Mr. Olsen, an architect by profession, has provided his sage advice and expertise as a volunteer consultant for numerous renovations made to the YCQ building including the front entrance and façade project, and most recently, a significant HVAC upgrade.
The final presentation of the evening recognized Rabbi Menacham Rottenberg z”l, who served as Executive Director of YCQ, beginning in 1963. Former principals, including Rabbi Aaron Brander and Mrs. Judy Lebovits, described how instrumental Rabbi Rottenberg was in shaping what YCQ is today. To recognize Rabbi Rottenberg and his dedication to the Yeshiva, the main entrance to YCQ was inaugurated as Shaar Menachem. It is a fitting tribute to Rabbi Rottenberg, who opened the doors of success for so many. Rabbi Rottenberg’s family was presented with a replica of the plaque that is displayed at the entrance of the school, which will forever serve as a testament to Rabbi Rottenberg’s legacy.
The magnificent evening concluded with a parade of desserts, a musical performance from up-and-coming singing sensation Dovid Pearlman, and the drawing of three amazing raffle prizes. Many thanks to the hard-working Dinner Committee, who made the evening so successful.