Congregation Shaare Tefillah of Teaneck invites the community to its 14th annual dinner on Saturday night, January 7, honoring Guests of Honor Rachel and David Yolkut and Emerging Leader Awardees Ashley and Elli Klapper. The dinner will take place at 8 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El of Closter, located at 180 Piermont Road in Closter, New Jersey.
After living in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, and Riverdale, New York, Guests of Honor Rachel (née Ross) and David Yolkut settled down in Teaneck in 2008. Now a family of six, the Yolkuts chose Teaneck in part because of the legendary Jewish infrastructure—including strong day schools—and in part for its proximity to Rachel’s family, who have been longtime members of Beth Aaron.
Shaare Tefillah stood out as a particularly warm and welcoming shul, offering a place of meaningful tefillah, camaraderie and an everybody-knows-your-name sensibility. It has become a second home to Rachel and David’s four daughters—Sara, Ayelet, Rikki and Nili. Since joining the shul, the Yolkuts have been instrumental in its growth.
Rachel, a Teaneck native, is a nurse at Yavneh Academy and at Camp Moshava. Previously, she worked as a nurse at Camp Simcha and YNJ, and as a pediatric oncology nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and New York Presbyterian. Shaare Tefillah has benefited from Rachel’s patience, insight and compassion, combined with a hands-on, practical approach, as she is a founding member of the chevra kadisha, has sat on the sisterhood board and coordinates meals and other chesed opportunities—undertakings that are often unglamorous and behind-the-scenes, but that are indispensable to the community.
David, who grew up in Southfield, Michigan, and Northeast Philadelphia, is counsel in the litigation department of Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, where he specializes in complex commercial litigation, media law and appeals. His pro bono work has helped bring an eruv to Westhampton Beach and surrounding towns in the Hamptons following years of heated constitutional litigation. David, who has also been involved with Yeshivat Sha’alvim, has taken on leadership roles at Shaare Tefillah, including incoming vice president, a member of the board of directors and a founding member of the adult education committee.
Friends of the honorees have noted that, in addition to many official roles at Shaare Tefillah, the Yolkuts contribute in intangible ways as leaders who are respected across all segments of the shul and who embody the best values of the community—as shul leaders, as parents and as professionals. Their good humor, inclusiveness and humility embody the shul’s core cultural strengths.
Emerging Leader Awardees Ashley and Elli Klapper have lived in Teaneck for 11 years, originally joining the Terrace Circle community as Teaneck NCSY directors. In their positions, they oversaw programming for high school teenagers in both day schools and public schools. After moving to a townhouse on State Street, they settled into their home near Shaare Tefillah in the summer of 2011. The Klappers, who have four daughters—Sophie, Nili, Orli and Emmy—are drawn to the diversity throughout Teaneck and the abundance of Jewish programming, schools, restaurants and other services.
Ashley, originally from Skokie, Illinois, currently works from home while taking care of her youngest; she is an administrator for Naaleh—a non-profit organization that provides free online continuing Jewish education to people of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to past involvement with NCSY, she has served on Yeshivat He’Atid’s parent association and is also a volunteer. At Shaare Tefillah, Ashley has served as sisterhood co-president for the past 2½ years.
Elli, who grew up in Hillcrest, New York, is a first vice president at CBRE, a global leader in commercial real estate. He is currently a board member of Yeshivat He’Atid, where he was instrumental in the planning and purchase of the new school building. At Shaare Tefillah, Elli has been involved in fundraising efforts, most recently spearheading the sale and distribution of lulavim and etrogim for the shul.
When the Klappers first moved into the neighborhood, it was obvious to them that the success of Shaare Tefillah was based on the hard work of community members. From the start, they felt strongly about getting actively involved in the shul to help continue the amazing work of other members before them. The shul’s rapid growth in the 5½ years since they joined serves as motivation to help maintain the warmth and loving “small-town” environment of the community. Ashley and Elli not only embody the values of Shaare Tefillah, but they and their children bring energy and excitement to the community.
For more information about the dinner and to RSVP, please visit https://www.shaaretefillah.org/event/2017-annual-dinner.html or contact [email protected].
By Dena Croog