In this space, I try to write about unique and special local orgs (or people) that are close to our family’s heart, but I haven’t written before about one institution that is particularly close to our family and from which we have benefited tremendously over
the years. This school has been a big part of our lives and our community’s growth over the last 20 years and it is celebrating its 16th annual dinner on March 12. I refer to Yeshivat Noam.
Although I wasn’t a founding parent of Yeshivat Noam, I consider myself a quasi-founding parent as I helped with the school’s early grant writing efforts before its doors opened and I also spent a good number of hours helping to set up classrooms in Yeshivat Noam’s old building on Washington Avenue in Bergenfield. I will never forget almost being crushed by a large, old and heavy wooden teacher’s desk hurtling down the stairs to the basement in that old building...thankfully, I survived.
For my wife and I, Yeshivat Noam is literally family, and I watched my talented brother-in-law and Head of School Rabbi Chaim Hagler lead the school from its inception and startup years and quickly establish Yeshivat Noam as one of the leading schools in our community and nationally. As happy Yeshivat Noam parents, we feel tremendous nachat and pride, both in what our children have learned at Noam and in the success and growth of the school. We also note that so many of our most valued friendships and close relationships today have roots in our being parents and involved in Yeshivat Noam.
Without any exaggeration, Rabbi Hagler, or “Uncle Rabbi Hagler” as my children knew him in Noam’s hallways and classrooms, is today a leading master Jewish educator and I always like to say that both he and the school he has built are among the best there is in the chinuch world and beyond.
I can write about Rabbi Hagler and Yeshivat Noam ad nauseum but Rabbi Hagler is not the main honoree at this year’s dinner. This year, the guests of honor are a special couple, Yitzi and Yosepha Solomon. I have met many in our community who are dedicated to various causes and projects but I haven’t met anyone like Yitzi, who is so devoted to the thankless and often unpleasant task of working directly with parents and families who need financial assistance. Always upbeat, smiling and cheerful on the outside, Yitzi tackles each family’s situation with straight talk laced with fairness, humor and a positive attitude that is practically contagious. No one walks away from a meeting or discussion with him thinking that he or she was treated poorly.
What’s really amazing is that Yitzi doesn’t even realize that not everyone feels the same as him about supporting our local schools. Despite not ever having any children in Yeshivat Noam, he has dedicated himself to doing everything he can for the school...and assumes and is “Dan L’kaf Zechut” that everyone involved in the school and community feels as passionately as he does about Yeshivat Noam and our community in general.
Nor has his energy and koach diminished in the slightest over the past decade and a half that I have known him. This kind of spirit and commitment is remarkable and I have not seen it with anyone else. Perhaps even more significant, I know personally of dozens, if not hundreds, of families in our community who are able to hold their heads up high and walk with dignity thanks to Yitzi’s direct efforts with tuition assistance.
If Yitzi is able to assume, every day, that everyone feels as passionately about supporting our schools and the community, perhaps for one night we can try to match his commitment by attending and/or making a gift in his honor.
Mazal Tov to Yeshivat Noam, Rabbi Hagler, Yitzie and Yosepha Solomon, and the other deserving honorees to whom I apologize for not singling out in this space!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer,
Co-Publisher of the Jewish Link of New Jersey