The Jewish community in Kew Gardens Hills has been on edge for upwards of a month. Fears grew following news that a smoke shop was set to open its doors on the block made famous by Shimon’s Pizza just off the corner of 72nd Avenue and Main Street. It is now safe to report that the smoke shop will never see the light of day, thanks to the acquisition of the location by Queens Borough Safety Patrol – Shmira as the forthcoming site for their organizational headquarters.
Shmira clearly heard the neighborhood’s concerns and worked diligently to protect the religious ideals and values cherished by the community it serves. The pathway to this announcement was tedious, time-consuming, and has its share of financial burdens, but is foremost the core of the mission that Shmira and its members uphold – providing safety and security for the Queens Jewish community.
In recent weeks, Queens Shmira has undertaken several expansion efforts in conjunction with opening a public space. From establishing its leadership boards to an aggressive campaign to bolster its volunteer base, Queens Shmira is confident in its mission to assist in deterring crime. The physical headquarters of Queens Shmira will bring the Main Street thoroughfare an added measure of security with a resounding message for miscreants to steer clear.
Shmira’s newly installed Board of Directors and coordinators worked alongside community leaders and rabbinical voices to make this dream a reality. Rabbi Doniel Lander, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, led the effort to maintain Kew Gardens Hills as a wholesome neighborhood void of harmful influences. To that end, the Rosh Yeshiva devoted significant time holding meetings with the management company, businessowner, and community stakeholders to pave the way for Shmira’s entrance. Eventually, an understanding was reached with the landlord, allowing for a five-year contract instead of the cumbersome ten-year deal in place.
Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Director of Chazaq, like his brother, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, the organization’s CEO, understands all too well the need for Main Street to be a shining example of Torah and Judaism. Their never-ending work at Chazaq has touched countless souls over the past 17 years, bringing thousands back into the fold of the Torah. The brothers dedicated precious hours to this cause, working to reinforce the sanctity of Kew Gardens Hills as the heartbeat of Queens’ many Jewish regions. From organizing discussions to fundraising the necessary monies, the rabbis gave every ounce of strength to ensuring a successful resolution.
The local entrepreneur has gained a much deeper understanding of principles treasured by his fellow neighbors and has gone so far as to advance his own connection with his Creator through Torah study and daily religious rituals. Moreover, to address a widespread communal concern of copycats attempting to demoralize the community, the involved parties personally reached out to the various commercial proprietors of central Main Street and obtained a unanimous consensus that no decadent businesses will be afforded an opportunity on our sacred streets.
For their part, Shmira overcame its own checklist of hurdles to accept this substantial commitment. Its rabbinic and lay leadership is poised to be a consistent and trusted set of eyes and ears that all facets of the community can call upon for public welfare measures, and we universally stand united for safety. Much appreciation is extended to the handful of individuals who handsomely contributed to the vital collection effort needed to bring closure to this frenzied nightmare.
By Shabsie Saphirstein,
Community Outreach Coordinator