July 13, 2024
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Ahavat Achim Honors Lori and David Garfunkel at 42nd Annual Journal Event

Ahavat Achim Journal Event honorees Lori and
David Garfunkel.

(Courtesy of Ahavat Achim) It’s not often that an entire congregation comes out to honor a special family — twice. Yet that’s exactly what members and friends of Ahavat Achim Orthodox Congregation of Fair Lawn did, first in 1995 and again last weekend, when Lori and David Garfunkel served as guests of honor at the congregation’s annual Journal Event.

Lori and David have been active members since they moved into the community 30 years ago. Their leadership includes stints as president, treasurer, bulletin editor, and members of multiple rabbi search committees. Lori has also served as chair of the building committee and shiva committee; she is also a founding board member of the Fair Lawn Mikvah Association. Together, the Garfunkels labor long and hard for Ahavat Achim, maintaining membership and yahrzeit databases, interfacing with maintenance contractors and of course, making sure the synagogue’s weekly kiddushim are up to David’s unyielding standards. In fact, David is renowned as “The Kiddush Man,” and is the driving force behind weekly kiddushim and seuda shlishit meals. In addition to assuring that congregants’ social needs and the physical needs of the synagogue are met, David, one of the resident Kohanim, takes care of the community’s spiritual needs, blessing the congregation every Yom Tov.

The morning’s program began with a siyum on Masechet Sota led by Rabbi Ely Shestack. He then delivered heartfelt remarks that highlighted the Garfunkels’ impact on the community and their enduring devotion to Ahavat Achim. His remarks were followed by those of several of the Garfunkels’ grandchildren as well as their children, whose wit and honesty enabled those assembled to see another side of Lori and David. After a brief pause for a delightful dessert, Ahavat Achim’s own “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” literally sang the praises of Lori and David in a loving karaoke tribute featuring the music of “Oklahoma!”

The Garfunkels are presented with a gift by President Richard Mayer and Rabbi Ely Shestack.

To close the event, President Richard Mayer presented the Garfunkels with a gift and turned the floor over to the guests of honor. During their speeches, David and Lori expressed their heartfelt appreciation for the Ahavat Achim community and the warmth with which they have been embraced. David passionately shared a reflection about his time at Ahavat Achim recalling that, “every Yom Tov when we duchan, we say a bracha before duchaning… leveraich et amo Yisrael BeAHAVA. WITH LOVE. The Halacha is that a Kohen cannot do bircat Kohanim if he cannot do so with AHAVA. I can say with certainty that when I duchan here, it is truly with AHAVA for this community that we have.” Lori further emphasized the unique bond within the congregation, stating, “Like our logo says, we are the Family Shul. We are one big extended, eclectic family and we stand together and help each other.”

Lori and David Garfunkel’s dedication and commitment has made Ahavat Achim a vibrant and caring community. They are cherished members, and their service to the community will continue to inspire for years to come.

For more information about Ahavat Achim and future events, visit www.ahavatachim.org.

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