Congregation Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn will hold its 43rd annual dinner on Sunday, March 18, recognizing the efforts of some of the many who give of their time and resources to benefit the synagogue, its members and the community at large. Under the leadership of Rabbi Benjamin Yudin, assisted by Associate Rabbi Andrew Markowitz, with the assistance of these and other dedicated members, the shul has survived and flourished.
This year the honorees are a special mix, a blending of cultures—most of whom are immigrants from outside the U.S. borders. All of the honorees have served and continue to serve with great distinction and honor.
The guests of honor are Janis and Oren Heller. They are a perfect example of where it is not one spouse who is honored and the other, so to speak, rides on their coattails. Both Janis and Oren have dedicated significant segments of their lives to Shomrei Torah. No sooner did they become members than they plunged into the ST mantel and became integral parts of the shul’s fabric.
Scratch Oren and he bleeds synagogue blue. In both his professional and private lives he is immersed in synagogue administration. A former president of ST, and still he is very much a part of the day-to-day events at Shomrei Torah. His professional position is as executive director of the legendary Mt. Sinai Synagogue in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan.
Janis, or “Morah Yehudit” as she is also known when teaching at the Leah Sokoloff Nursery School, has started and guided countless students on the path of Judaism. Besides being a beloved teacher, Janis always helps in any way she can. She is a perpetual volunteer and currently runs the shul’s cloud system, ensuring that members’ payments are timely and accurately recorded.
Shomrei Torah has always been a warm, welcoming, multicultural congregation, not merely in credo but in deed. Following the demise of the former Soviet Union, many Jews left for Israel and other countries. Some came to the United States and made their way to Fair Lawn and Shomrei Torah, where they found the open arms of friendship, love and assistance. They have all become invaluable members who have contributed their talents and specialties.
The David I. Goldberg Ohr Chesed Awards recognize those who give so selflessly of themselves for the benefit and enrichment of the others. This year all four of the honorees are originally from outside the country. Three are from the former Soviet Union and one is from Afghanistan.
Lena and Yefim Fleyshmakher are both from the former Soviet Union. They gladly give back, using their skills, dedication and drive to serve. Lena and Yefim are a most effective team and seek out opportunities to be part of and contribute to shul activities. Yefim, a skilled photographer, volunteers these skills and records many community simchas. Organizing and bringing to fruition the shul’s weekly kiddush is a huge undertaking, and credit goes to Lena as well as her sister Alla.
Alla and Rachmiel Kavesh are also honorees of this year’s David I. Goldberg Ohr Chesed Award. Alla is from Moldova in the former Soviet Union, and Rachmiel is from Kabul in Afghanistan. They both continually make a concerted effort to give their all. They participate and assist in many of the shul’s educational and religious programs. And of course, Alla’s imprint is also felt weekly for her role in coordinating and producing the weekly kiddush.
Ettie and Brian Sher are this year’s recipients of the Young Leadership Award. He is from Uzbekistan and she is from Moldova. They came here as children and met at Yeshiva University. Brian is currently on the board of the shul. Over the years, both have given generously of their time, volunteering for numerous shul programs and hosting special shul guests at their home for Shabbat.
The dinner will be held at Keter Torah in Teaneck on Sunday, March 18. Please call the Synagogue office, 201-791-7910, for information on attending and honoring these deserving people.
By Irving Gerber