Todd Eisenberg, 48, has resided at the J-ADD (Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities) House at the corner of New Bridge and Windsor Roads for the past six years. His vocational site is at the Friendship House in Hackensack, where he works in the library. Several times a week, he is also involved in selling floral arrangements on behalf of Flowers by J-ADD, for which he earns a commission and is occasionally involved in the design.
Todd grew up in Livingston, where he attended the Hebrew School of Temple Beth Shalom for five years and continued his Jewish studies at the Central Hebrew High School in West Caldwell for the next four years. He even elected to attend an additional post-graduate year as he appreciated the Jewish education he was receiving. After brief moves to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and South Orange, New Jersey, Todd relocated to Bergenfield where he is very happy with the “Jewishness of the community.”
Last year, on April 6, Todd’s father, Moshe ben Pesach Leib, passed away in a nursing home in Clark, New Jersey. Todd was determined to honor his father’s memory by reciting the daily Kaddish for him as he was taught through his religious studies.
Rebbetzin Efrat Sobolofsky was asked by J-ADD to help Todd attend evening services at the nearby Congregation Ohr HaTorah, whose mara d’atra is Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, who is also a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University. To date, Todd has managed to attend the minyan virtually every evening to recite the Kaddish for his father. After Maariv, Todd frequently remains and joins any shiur or study group taking place in the shul.
In a gesture of hakarat hatov and to mark the first yahrtzeit of his beloved father, Todd sponsored the seuda shlishit at Ohr HaTorah this past Shabbat. To his surprise and joy, when word got out of his plan, more than 40 Ohr HaTorah families joined Todd in sponsoring the tribute to his father. Todd estimates that there were more than 80 people in attendance, including Todd’s brother David.
In addressing the assembled, Todd proudly expressed his feelings of gratitude to the congregation for their show of care and warm outreach to him.
“I would like to thank the rabbi, rebbetzin and their family as well as the congregation for their warmth and kindness and for coming to this seuda shlishit in memory of my father. Dad would be happy about my increased religiosity and involvement in congregational life. He would be happy from Olam Haba at seeing me as part of a minyan saying Kaddish for the past year. The morals and values that I have can be attributed to my father. I thank you all for coming and for sponsoring this seuda shlishit.”
Rabbi Sobolofsky added words of inspiration to the gathering by saying, “We are truly grateful to Todd for joining our shul, community and family, and for role-modeling for all of us a genuine commitment to ongoing spiritual growth and learning.”
Todd is very appreciative to the local Ohr HaTorah families for their gracious hosting of him for Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and for the rides home when the weather does not permit him to walk home from the weekday minyan. He proudly shared that one family bought him his very own lulav and etrog before Sukkot.
A very recent event that Todd truly cherishes is the private reading of the Purim Megilla that he was treated to on Purim afternoon by Rabbi Sobolofsky. Todd is also enthusiastic about the educational and social programs he attends through JLE and Yachad.
Dr. John Winer, executive director at J-ADD, stated how happy he is to see Todd integrating into the Jewish community as a participating and contributing member. For over 25 years, J-ADD has provided individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live dignified and inclusive lives in various Jewish communities in northern New Jersey. Its programming promotes independence, productivity and self-determination.
For more information about J-ADD and Flowers by J-ADD, please visit j-add.org.
By Pearl Markovitz