A packed house of over 900 people attended Shomrei Torah of Fair Lawn’s annual dinner, which honored Rabbi Benjamin and Shevi Yudin. The event, held at the Atrium in Monsey, was in recognition of the couple’s 50 years of service to their kehilla and beyond.
The roster of attendees spoke volumes. Along with all of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including two families who flew in from Israel, there was an impressive turnout of shul members, countless rabbanim from both Yeshiva University and the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County, and the current and former mayors of Fair Lawn, as well as other town officials. Additionally, arriving from near and far and occupying table after table were those who grew up in Fair Lawn and have since taken up residence elsewhere. It was a testament to what the Rabbi and Shevi meant to them.
The formal part of the program began with a short introductory video, as some of the many who had benefited from the Yudins or were inspired by them gave thanks. This was followed by heartfelt addresses from both guests of honor. Shevi Yudin began by acknowledging the room filled with family, friends, colleagues and her Shomrei Torah family, noting that “each of you has had a special place in our hearts and has impacted us in so many meaningful ways. “She took the audience on a journey through the history that she and the Rabbi shared with their congregation. She closed with words of praise for her husband, saying, “He lives a life based on Torah, avodah and gemilas chasadim… It has truly been my honor to be his partner in this noble work.” Her final words were directed at the Shomrei Torah congregation: “You are an extraordinary kehilla.”
Rabbi Yudin delivered an emotional address from start to finish. His initial words were consistent with what he’s been sharing with shul members in the days and weeks leading up to the dinner. “Not only do I not believe, I don’t understand. I really don’t understand what this is all about. I was hired to do a job. I tried my best over the years to do that job. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about.” He too, offered profuse praise to his spouse, saying that he cannot thank her enough for all that she gave up for him, as evenings that were meant to be spent with her were instead used to prepare and deliver shiurim. His final comments were directed at Rabbi Markowitz, who will be officially taking the helm at Shomrei Torah later this year. His voice shaking, Rabbi Yudin said, “I’m giving over to you not only a congregation, but a family, and my labor of love. There is no greater privilege than to serve this kehilla.”
Directly following Rabbi Yudin’s address was a poignant 20-minute video tribute. The powerful rendering, with comments from no less than 40 people whose lives had been touched by Rabbi Benjamin and Shevi Yudin, is best appreciated through viewing. It can be seen on the shomrei-torah.org website.
By Robert Isler
Robert Isler can be reached at [email protected]