This week marks the shloshim of Senior Dati Leumi rav Rabbi Chaim Druckman z”l, 90, known as the spiritual leader of political religious Zionism; founder and Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Or Etzion, a Bnei Akiva state religious high school; and stood at the helm of the overall Bnei Akiva movement. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook of Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, Druckman long held a far-right approach to politics, spearheading the settlers' movement with a 1968 Pesach seder in Chevron, and brokered political dealings while serving the State of Israel in the Knesset and as a deputy minister, earning him the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Over the last twelve months, various rabbinical figures assumed the pulpits of their respective congregations. The Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center took note of this and hosted a summit, bringing many of these rabbis face-to-face for the first time. The brainchild of Linda Spiegel, Director of Public Affairs for the facility, the conference was co-hosted by the Vaad Harabonim of Queens (VHQ), the formative agency that helped the center become a sought-after destination for the frum Jews of Queens and beyond. The conference, which included the likes of Rabbi Yehuda Davis of Kehilas Torah Temima, Rabbi Elisha Friedman of the Young Israel of Forest Hills, Rabbi Judah Kerbel of the Queens Jewish Center, Rabbi Daniel Rosenfelt of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Rabbi Etan Schnall of the Young Israel of Hillcrest, and Rabbi Mayer  Waxman (Executive Director, Queens Jewish Community Council) were treated to a buffet provided by Hapisgah Steakhouse.

After Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg offered a disgraceful plea deal of just six months in jail to Waseem Awawdeh for savagely beating Joey Borgen simply based on his faith, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a sizeable press conference to shed light on anti-Semitism this past Thursday, January 19. The room at the Ceremonial Chamber of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola was filled with county officials and activists who rallied in support of Borgen, with the general message addressing DA Bragg: “We won’t stand for such bail nonsense!”

Roughly two months ago, master composer Rabbi Yitzy Bald reached out to me to distribute fliers throughout Queens promoting the launch of his localized choir for yeshivah boys. In all, 27 boys from various Queens yeshivahs signed up for the eight-week program that will have completed with a mega concert production at the Queens Theatre by the time you read this on Shabbos. Dubbed “New York Boys Choir for Everyone,” the consort included boys as young as preschoolers who all gained tremendously from the experience.

More despicable hate was found this week at Forest Park.

“Sadly, antisemitism has struck again in Queens, at Forest Park,” wrote Council Member Lynn Schulman on Monday evening, January 16. Her district encompasses Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hills, and Kew Gardens where the generally nice and safe park is situated. “Hatred against Jews is a growing issue, and we cannot allow this to keep happening.” The photo posted of swastikas spray-painted onto fallen tree limbs, taken during the day by a keen-eyed passerby, was seen by well over 16,000 on the Twitter social media platform alone. In response, the local 102nd precinct of the New York Police Department immediately arranged for the removal of the offensive graffiti. The police department›s Hate Crimes unit was also made aware of the incident.

This past Wednesday, December 28, on behalf of Queens Borough Safety Patrol – Shmira, I alongside my uncle Naftoli Saphirstein attended the levayah of Dr. Majer Rosenfeld, R’ Meir ben R’ Moshe Yehuda z”l, 82, a longtime fixture of the Jewish community in Kew Gardens Hills. Dr. Majer, born in Germany, was a courteous and modest servant of Hashem who always exhibited the most profound midos tovos, with a special appreciation for t’filah. Dr. Majer was a noted member of both the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills (YIKGH) and Beis Medrash Congregation Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Weisel’s Shul), where he left lasting impressions. Approximately fifty participants (plus sixty on Zoom) converged in Jamaica at the El-Al Cargo Building at JFK Airport to give Dr. Majer an honorable and humble sendoff in a hastily-arranged transport to Eretz Yisrael, completing a promise to visit the Holy Land this Chanukah.