June 13, 2024
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Annual Fair Lawn BBQ Becomes Israel Fundraiser

Fair Lawn– The Fair Lawn Jewish Community recently held its annual barbecue for young families. Over 150 people attended. For the last seven or eight years, Fair Lawn has seen a tremendous amount of growth, said Ari Ashkenas, one of the barbeque’s coordinators. “Each year, one of the highlights of the summer is to bring in all of the new folks who moved in, and some of the old timers…to get to know each other a bit more.” According to Ashkenas, it started out with only ten couples attending, but since then there have been over 100 new couples who have since moved to Fair Lawn.

This year, the event took on a new meaning. When Operation Protective Edge began, Ashkenas and fellow coordinator Moshe Zharnest used the event to support Israel, taking the money raised from the barbecue–through sponsorships and the admission fee–to support a family living in the southern Israeli town of Naveh. “There was such solidarity and unity with everything going on with the war…we didn’t want the energy to die. We wanted to keep the momentum going,” Zharest explained.

The group decided to focus in on one family after speaking with Rabbi Benjamin Yudin, who visited Israel recently and has contacts in southern Israel.

The barbecue was hosted by the Rabinowitz family, longtime members of Shomrei Torah. They were involved with the Torah Enrichment Center, which encouraged young couples to move to Fair Lawn. Said Judah Rabinowitz. “There was a barbecue called the TEC Barbecue that took place every year,” meant to help the TEC’s cause, and the Rabinowitzes volunteered to host it. While the TEC is no longer around, the barbecue has lived on.

Tables were laden with the usual fare, and other tables were set aside so that children could work on crafts project to send to people in Israel. They strung blue and white bead, decorated picture frames with encouraging messages, and used art supplies to write letters.

Rachel and Oren Kravetz, who moved from Washington Heights to Fair Lawn in July were there. They told JLBC that they chose Fair Lawn because it is close to Manhattan, where Oren works, and they found the community “warm and friendly.” Rachel said she appreciates that people come up to them to say hello and welcome them all the time. Oren said he appreciates living “in a place with grass and sky.” Rachel enjoyed the barbecue because while she’s met people at Shomrei Torah, not everyone is there on Shabbos and it was nice to “see everybody in a more casual setting.”

Rabbi Yudin and Rabbi Andrew Markowitz of Shomrei Torah were there. Rabbi Markowitz gave a short D’var Torah about the verse in Tehillim that is said right after Shacharis and Maariv during Elul, Markowitz tied in the psalm’s phrasing to a verse in Megillat Esther, where Esther “inquired about her own life [indicated by the use of the verb ‘ask’]… and inquired about the nation [with the use of the verb ‘request’].” The psalm means that we do not pray only for ourselves, Markowitz said, “But we can’t forget about…our nation, the Jewish nation. And what we’re doing here today is so special…to help a family in the south of Israel.”

The coordinators estimate the barbecue raised between $1,000-$2,000. “It’s a low-key event,” Zharnest said. “This year everything [was] geared towards Israel,” geared to bring the community closer together and to help the family in Naveh at the same time.

By Oren Oppenheim

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