In last week’s edition of The Jewish Link, I read about Tzvi Solomon’s involvement in SINAI, starting with his days at TABC and leading up to being honored at the upcoming SINAI Schools’ dinner in February (“Supporting Classmates, Supporting SINAI”). Tzvi’s story reminded me of my involvement with SINAI in so many ways. (As an aside, I first met Tzvi at a recent SINAI dinner as he sat next to me, and I was excited to hear that his children, like mine, would be attending Yavneh Academy. I now serve alongside Tzvi on the Yavneh finance committee and look forward to his future roles in our many local organizations yearning for leadership.)
Back to SINAI. I, too, first got involved with this institution when I was at TABC in the early 1990s. I first developed a fondness for my fellow students while filling the vending machines with Elie Katz (now my co-deputy mayor of Teaneck) on behalf of the student council, right next door to the SINAI classrooms. In January 1993, TABC moved from their location at North and Elm Streets south of Cedar Lane to the new campus at 1600 Queen Anne Road. The students actually moved much of the school’s contents with volunteers renting and driving the moving trucks. SINAI had a significant amount of furniture to move as well but their students were not as able to help. Thus, Rabbi Mark Karasick asked a few of us student council members to help out. It was a long but meaningful day setting up the SINAI wing in the northwest portion of the school.
I thought that was the end of it until a few days or weeks later the principal, Rabbi Yosef Adler, made a strange announcement. Back then there was no fence separating the freight trains from the school, and we would often walk across the fence to get to our friends’ homes on the other side of Windsor. (Now you can walk under the track in the tunnel at West Englewood Avenue.) Rabbi Adler told us we must never again walk across the track, “as some of our SINAI brothers may see this and not understand when it was safe to do so and when it wasn’t, with trains coming quite often.” It then immediately struck me as to how special the integration of TABC and students was for all of us. This simple responsibility to model safe behavior was something I never forgot.
Seven years later, married and expecting our first child, my wife Nomi and I attended our first dinner, and I then understood how important this organization is for all parents. We looked forward to the annual dinners, to sitting with our friends and making new ones while we ate those hot dogs and chicken nuggets in the middle of the table, crying at the moving videos. I was humbled to be honored with Nomi in 2008. We continue to support SINAI and look forward to this year’s dinner in February, 30 years after that 1993 move of the school and the comments by Rabbi Adler that I think of every time I see a freight train going down the tracks of our town.
I hope you will join me in support of this wonderful organization and hope to see you on February 26 at the Marriott Glenpointe. Learn more and sign up at www.sinaidinner.org.
By Mark J. (Mendy) Schwartz/Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link