The stretch of 71st Avenue between 137th and 141st Streets has hosted an array of honorable programming covering a swath of services available to the Jewish community. Yeshiva Beth Abraham Slonim of Jerusalem has perpetuity held a significance for me, my Kew Gardens Hills neighbors, and the Queens Jewish community as a whole. It was 40 years ago to the day that the Slonimer Rebbe began a partnership with Reb Aaron and Ratzy Kopelowitz, who they have annually opened their door to the yeshivah for an annual fundraiser that has continually grown with unremitting interest.

This past Monday evening, February 6, Zisha Kopelowitz, son of the hosts, opened the program acknowledging its dedication to his beloved grandmother Mrs. Mae Kopelowitz, Masha bas R’ Hillel a”h, and emboldened attendees to grasp the merit of charity in her distinguished honor. “When a group comes together to hear divrei Torah, the Shechinah rests with them,” reminded Zisha. On the 40-year association, Zisha noted, “We have benefited from the connection we share,” expressing that the family and their home have received much brachah of the years. Zisha pointed to the significance of the transformative number of 40 in Jewish history: the mabel, a mikvah’s 40 seah, years in the midbar, and makos. Other instances of 40 that come to mind include: Yitzchak Aveinu getting married, Yaakov Aveinu’s presents to Esav, 40 shekels of silver during the rule of Nechemiah, Melech Shlomo’s 40 horse stalls, and General Barak’s army of 40,000 men. According to the g’morah, 40 also represents the year of reason and the time that many assume rabbinic leadership. One may also divide a life of 120 years into thirds of 40, and 40 days before a child is born their spouse is chosen. I also encourage everyone to say something 40 times to ensure it becomes locked into memory.

In 1941, following the annihilation of the Slonimer community during the Holocaust, HaGaon HaRav Shalom Noach Berezovsky zt”l, the Netivos Shalom, founded the yeshivah. A documentary celebrating the yeshivah’s 80 years of education was viewed by attendees, included esteemed community rabbonim Rav Doniel Lander, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, Yesodei Yeshurin, Yesodei HaTorah of Naugatuck, and Chancellor of Touro University; Rav Mordechai Finkelman, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim; Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Friedman, mara d’asra of Bais Yosef Ulem; Rav Moshe Sokoloff, mara d’asra of Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and the hosts’ rav; Rav Henoch Savitsky, mara d’asra of Khal Machzekei HaDas; and Rav Gershon Brafman.

HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Brezovsky, Slonimer Rosh Yeshivah, and son-in-law of Zurich’s Rav Shimon Barish zt”l, delivered memorable divrei Torah that kept the audience’s attention. The rav discussed the legacy of the yeshivah and how it has produced tremendous talmidei chachamim who serve Hashem in their avodah with a special fervor, exemplary midos, and complete emunah. The Rosh Yeshivah concluding with a deeply passionate brachah to the hosts for 40 years of opening their doors.

Dr. Jacob Walfish noted that over the years, Aaron Kopelowitz never missed a single parlor meeting for the yeshivah outside of one 10 years ago when an unfortunate health scare nearly cancelled the event. The family continued as scheduled, holding the event as a z’chus refuah sh’leimah that was ultimately hugely successful.

May the Kopelowitzs, Walfishs, and community partners continue to be a major financial backbone to this acclaimed citadel of higher learning, Torah, and chesed.

By Shabsie Saphirstein