At this time, T'hilim is needed for two family members whose home was destroyed in an early Shabbos morning house fire this past weekend. The community is asked to pray for Yoel Ben Avraham, the patriarch, and Daniella Chaya bas Oksana Osnat, who remain hospitalized in critical condition. Yoel's heroics are quite noteworthy. The 50-year-old father managed to rescue his own daughter, who had been trapped in a bedroom when the blaze got out of control at around 2:15 a.m. Regrettably, the smoke and flames took its toll on Yoel, resulting in sixty-five percent of his body being burned. Thankfully, the hero is now off life support. But without the sole breadwinner supporting his family, finances are in desperate need.

I was privileged to join fellow Queens Shmira members this past New Year’s Eve and the following afternoon to bring smiles to our local police officers in a small but touching tribute on this legal holiday. In coordination with donations from the local Jewish community, we gave thanks to the police officers of the 102, 107, and 112th New York Police Departments simply for being on duty over New Year’s celebrations and providing necessary law enforcement to our communities. Despite the festivities, we encountered the Commanding Officers each at their posts, ready to serve if needed. We commend Kew Gardens’ Deputy Inspector Jeremy Kivlin, Kew Gardens Hills’ Capt. Mo C. Tsang, and Forest Hills’ Capt. David Cordano for running stellar operations. We also welcomed rookie officers beginning their first tours with the start of the new year.

Congregation Ohel Rachel Degel Israel, led by Rav Dovid Z. and Reb. Rochel Sheinfeld, held a melaveh malkah – its first in four years - in its beis hamedrash this past Motza’ei Shabbos. The evening was an exquisite display of friendship befitting the long standing mosad founded in 1958 by Rav Shaul Dovid Margulies and his Rebbetzin Zissel, in which they infused Kew Gardens Hills with their signature Eastern European flare. Rav Margulies, Av Beis Din of Prushkov, a town near Warsaw, Poland, and the examiner for Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, was among the first disciples of HaGaon Rav Meir Shapiro zt”l, the originator of the Daf Yomi cycle.

Queens Shmira, in coordination with the local Jewish community, extended a note of appreciation to the hard-working service members within the Jewish communities of Queens. Coordinator Avraham Pinkhasov and I delivered meals on the eve of the holiday and this past Monday for breakfast and lunch to recognize those who left their families on the holiday to serve our community, providing essential public safety services. We noted this sacrifice when friends and colleagues are surrounded by loved ones.