A Celebration of Community, Unity and Chesed
March 2, 2017
Achiezer's Fifth Annual Dinner was attended by a remarkable crowd of 1,700 people who came to demonstrate their support and admiration for an organization that has become a mainstay of the Five Towns/Far Rockaway and surrounding communities over the last eight years.
This year's dinner was particularly unique and exciting, as it was held in the heart of the Five Towns at the former location of Best Buy. The site was transformed by Birch Design into a breathtaking landscape, which delighted guests young and old. This special venue was generously sponsored l'ilui nishmas Ronen ben Yehoshua and Margolit, and both Elite Caterers and Birch Design donated a significant portion of their services, so that as much of the evening's proceeds as possible could go directly to support Achiezer's programs.
Following a sumptuous buffet reception, guests enjoyed a short but powerful program that was a fitting tribute to Achiezer and the wonderful community behind it.
Nachum Segal served as the evening emcee. HaRav Yaakov Bender, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, opened the proceedings with recitation of Tehillim dedicated for a refuah shelaima for Dr. Shlomo Sprecher, an exceptional physician who was one of the first in his profession to lend his assistance to Achiezer.
This was followed by a special presentation to Mr. Jimmy Vilardi, who worked tirelessly to secure the permits for the evening's event and has always been helpful to Achiezer and other local organizations.
Adam Okun, an Achiezer Board member, then poignantly shared how he became acquainted with Achiezer's efforts. After receiving a phone call that gave him a glimpse of what Achiezer does, he was so taken with their unique brand of giving that he determined to join the effort. He has been an active member of the Board since. Mr. Okun also made special mention of Achiezer staff members and volunteers and thanked them for their efforts.
In his inimitable manner, Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, President of Achiezer, shared his perspective about the incredible chesed that goes on in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community and how that was the real theme of the evening. Even as he shared some of the year's key accomplishments - in the medical referral department, the Zichron Dovid Chesed Shel Emes Program, the Westwood Financial Management Program and more - he emphasized that underlying it all is the community's burning desire to give.
The climax of the program was the riveting audiovisual tribute to each of the honorees, who each personify the chesed that Achiezer represents: Mr. and Mrs. Avi Goldstein, Guests of Honor; Rabbi and Mrs. Elysha Sandler, Rabbinic Leadership Awardees; Mr. Shabsi Schreier, Man of the Year; Mr. and Mrs. Joel and Cheryl Baruch, Community Service Awardees; and Dr. Norman Y. Otsuka, Physician Appreciation Award.
In particular, Dr. Otsuka received a standing ovation following the video presentation that included the stirring story of an emergency surgery he performed to preserve a young community member's mobility. Dr. Otsuka delighted the audience with an entertaining speech peppered with Yiddish phrases and words.
The final message was delivered by Guest of Honor Mr. Avi Goldstein, who spoke powerfully and passionately, explaining to the audience how, although they might think Achiezer is incredible, they don't even know the half of what is actually done because the organization can't and won't speak about so much of their work.
By the morning following the dinner, feedback was already pouring in. Participants were touched, amazed, and, most of all, inspired to carry on the Achiezer directive of giving. Far more than a fundraising effort, this was an evening that recharged all those present and renewed their dedication to Achiezer and to the welfare of their brothers.