By all measures, this year’s networking event was the biggest yet for the Queens Jewish Link and Bukharian Jewish Link, judging by the sponsors, tables, special guests and participants at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills on Wednesday, February 6.
“Thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and to the support of our readers for making the newspaper popular and this event a success,” said Publisher Yaakov Serle. “We are in our seventh year and in great shape.”
Chazaq Operations Manager R’ Yaniv Meirov, a longtime supporter of the Queens Jewish Link and community leader, emceed the event, thanking each sponsor and noting that together with its partner publication, the Bukharian Jewish Link, the Queens Jewish community has a great asset for sharing information.
With a community service award named in memory of Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, z”l, many of the speakers spoke of him as an exemplary public servant. “I am honored to present the Michael Simanowitz Memorial Award,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “You knew you were going to win when Michael Simanowitz was on your side.” Before announcing Shimi Pelman as this year’s honoree, Katz called on the Simanowitz family to join her in awarding Pelman.
She then spoke of Pelman’s role in helping the less fortunate through his role as president of Tomchei Shabbos of Queens, among his many other civic projects. Pelman also shared memories of Simanowitz. “Mike was a fighter, a trusted ally, someone who would work on behalf of the community. He gave so much of himself. I’m honored to be the first recipient of this award.”
Pelman said that as there is networking in business, likewise for chesed, where people can share ideas and their time to partner in doing good deeds. “We should all be involved in the network of chesed. All who work on behalf of the community, Hashem will bless you.” Serle noted that Assemblyman Simanowitz was one of the early supporters of the Queens Jewish Link.
The Community Service Award went to Ronald Fatoullah and Elizabeth Forspan, law firm partners specializing in elder and estate law, with many years of experience and appearances in published columns and shows relating to their work. Elected officials at the event included Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; Councilmen Rory Lancman, Barry Grodenchik, Costa Constantinides and Donovan Richards. Also present were State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblymen Daniel Rosenthal and David Weprin, and Rabbi Daniel Pollack representing Rep. Grace Meng.
The guest speaker, the Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Dani Dayan, complimented the work of the Queens Jewish Link, which is always fair and always does everything with ahavat Yisrael. “I had the great pleasure to meet Assemblyman Simanowitz, and he was very helpful to me in my first steps as Consul General. His passing was a terrible shock.” On the shape of Israel, he remarked that the country is experiencing renewed diplomatic and economic strengths. “As we enter Israel today, it is stronger than ever and more prosperous than ever. We have capabilities to defend ourselves. Today Israel became an economic superpower.”
Dayan quoted founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion: “If you don’t believe in miracles, you are not a realist.” He noted the recent miracle of the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, and the important relationship between Israel and the Jewish community in America. “Thank you for supporting Israel and continuing Jewish life here. Thank you in the name of the State of Israel and the people of Israel for your support and love. We need the help of the Almighty.”
Proprietors and representatives of various businesses, nonprofits and publications stayed long after the speeches concluded, noshing on the catered food and exchanging cards. “The event was full of positive energy and opened many networking opportunities,” said Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger of Calvary Hospital, a palliative care provider. As Serle said before the event, this was not planned as an annual dinner, or a lecture; it was an opportunity to network. His pockets bursting with business cards was all the proof needed of the event’s success.
By Sergey Kadinsky