Chaverim of Queens celebrated 15 years of service to the Queens community at their annual summer barbecue held Wednesday evening, August 3, at the Love residence in Richmond Hill. The program brought together members, elected officials, donors, and friends of the noted organization that responds to non-medical emergencies.
Each year, Chaverim chooses the Nine Days as the opportune time to recognize their volunteers, who make themselves available during the hot summer months to respond to calls. The event included a touching siyum on Maseches Makos led by Aaron Cyperstein, President of Chaverim of Queens, in memory of Reb Yaakov Yosef ben Reb Nasan Nata z”l, renowned philanthropist Mr. Jack Friedman, for whom the organization is named. “In 15 years, Chaverim has answered the call to over 120,000 community members in distress,” stated Cyperstein. “I have a stack of ‘thank you’s this high,” he added, making a sizeable gesture with his palms. The Friedman family was proudly represented at the siyum.
The program also recognized the group’s recent expansion into the Great Neck area. “The Great Neck community has been reaching out to Chaverim of Queens for many years, and we have successfully been covering non-medical emergencies including car troubles and house lockouts,” explained Avigdor Cyperstein, Vice President and co-founder of Chaverim of Queens. “For efficiency and to keep up volunteer morale, we have recently shifted to a dedicated dispatch group consisting of local volunteers in the Great Neck area.” This group has expanded by two members in just the last week, for a total of 12, in addition to the well over 100 Queens members.
“Almost ten years ago, when I was first running for Congress, Aaron invited me to his home and, in the presence of Rabbi Pollack and Rabbi Hecht, told me about the amazing work of Chaverim of Queens,” said Congress Member Grace Meng, who was joined by her Jewish liaison Rabbi Daniel Pollack. “I wanted to come out and say thank you to the members who, during the pandemic, helped so many families who were under quarantine and could not go out and work.” Meng has famously stood up to President Obama in opposition to the Iran Deal, is a staunch advocate for monies sent to Eretz Yisrael, and strongly helps secure over $350 million in Homeland Security funding for local yeshivos and shuls to improve facility safety.
“This is my 40th year as a local elected official,” announced State Senator Leroy Comrie, who has always had an open-door policy for our Jewish organizations, and helped many financially. “When I was in the City Council, I was head of the Queens Delegation.” During this period, Comrie was made an honorary member of the Jewish caucus by members like now-DA Melinda Katz, now-Assembly-Member David Weprin, and former Council Member Karen Koslowitz. There, he became acquainted with local personalities like Aaron Cyperstein and Rabbi Daniel Pollack. In the redrawn lines for Senate District 14, Comrie has picked up many Orthodox Jewish communities in Central Queens. “I could not say no to come by and say thank you, guys, for your service that makes Queens what it is – a community that celebrates families, a community that does not hesitate to do for each other, and for a community that looks out for others when they are most in need. I hope you continue to spread this effort.”
New York State Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal is no stranger to Chaverim. In his political efforts in Albany and here at home, Rosenthal sets out to make a kiddush Hashem daily. “Fortunately, since last year, I did not need to use you guys. Thank you for all the hard work. We know it gets tiresome to run out, especially in the hot weather. You really keep the organization alive, because without the volunteers, it would not be able to operate. Next year in Yerushalayim.”
Special appreciation is extended to Eliyahu Love, Dispatch Coordinator, who spent the day setting up his backyard for the beautiful occasion. The grill was expertly run by Dovid Bakst, Shui Kesharim, Moshe Teicher, and Yitzi Kaplowitz, who kept a nonstop stream of hot dogs, burgers, steaks, and delightful extras coming all night long. Gratitude goes out to Reb Mordechai Striks, a real estate salesperson for Astor Brokerage who was an event sponsor and dished out a flavorful homemade cholent to guests. Council Member James Gennaro, Project Lead, and OutSource USA were general sponsors. Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, Executive Director of Project Lead, was on hand for the program.
Honored guests included Simon Sebag, Jewish liaison to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Yaakov Serle, co-publisher of the Queens Jewish Link and Bukharian Jewish Link; Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, Executive Vice President, Vaad Harabonim of Queens; Rabbi Yitzchok Katz of Tomchei Shabbos of Queens; Rabbi Aloni Russek, master m’chaneich at YCQ.
By Shabsie Saphirstein,
member Chaverim of Queens