Sunday, March 07, 2021

Searching for some light in this year’s Chanukah celebration? The David Frohlich, z”l, youth department of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun has teamed up with Black Arrow productions, led by Nochi Krohn, to bring the greater Bergen County area an exciting Chanukah celebration.

On Dec. 13, two performances will take place at the Garden State Mall parking lot where attendees can reserve a spot to join in the fun. Headlining the concert are Mordechai Shapiro and Simcha Leiner. Other guests include chazan Chaim Kiss, the Shnitzel Guys and Simcha on Wheels. The first show begins at 4 p.m. and the second show begins at 7 p.m.; each performance will last approximately two hours.

Attendees can enjoy the show from the comfort of their cars with the option to tune in to the live event on FM transmission. In addition to the music performance, there will also be a menorah-lighting ceremony, followed by some brief words of inspiration from Rabbi Ari Zahtz, rabbi at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck.

The Jewish holidays have been difficult this year; many people have been spending the otherwise joyful times isolated from their families and communities due to the pandemic. While people held outdoor minyanim and celebrations over the warmer months, the colder weather makes gathering in a safe manner difficult. This Chanukah drive-thru celebration, however, could be a breakthrough for future holiday events, providing a framework for more fun and socially distant gatherings during the colder months.

Rivka Szafranski, co-youth director of the David Frohlich, z”l, youth department at Bnai Yeshurun, hopes that the event will bring much-needed simcha to the Jewish community. “Our community has suffered a tremendous amount due to the pandemic—both physically and emotionally—especially during the Yomim Tovim. We were looking for creative ways to bring the community together during Chanukah, in a safe, healthy, socially distant environment. We simply wanted to increase the simcha of Chanukah.”

The event was formed after the CBY youth committee and youth directors brainstormed various ideas on how to celebrate Chanukah with shul members. Congregation Bnai Yeshurun’s vice president, Doron Katz, said they were looking to “do good for the community, spread the light of Chanukah, and give the kids and adults of the community something to look forward to in the difficult time for Klal Yisroel.”

After piecing the event together, they realized that the entire community, not just their congregation, could benefit from the event. Yehoshua Szafranski, co-youth director, said, “Our youth committee was vocal about their support and desire to take this event, which could bring joy to a couple people, and see if we could magnify it and bring it to the masses. The committee was instrumental in giving us the lens and resources necessary to make the event as impactful as possible.”

Bringing joy to a challenging time is tricky, explained Yehoshua. “On the one hand we want to be extremely sensitive, since there is a global pandemic happening—there is so much financial, medical and emotional hardship going on during this COVID era. We must be sensitive to that. But on the other hand, we also understand that it’s so important to provide opportunities for the Jewish people to celebrate together and be grateful together. Chanukah is all about gratitude—being grateful for what we have, being grateful to Hashem. So we wanted to give people a forum and a safe environment where we can all come together and sing, be inspired and rejoice together… Even after everything we’ve been through, we really have so much to be grateful for—especially for our community,” he said.

A drive-thru concert of this magnitude is a massive undertaking and could not have been accomplished without the help of numerous talented and dedicated people. In a special statement, Yehoshua and Rivka Szafranski wrote:

“Thank you to the Rabbanim of CBY who have helped us infuse this celebration with kedusha. Thank you to Nochi Krohn, of Black Arrow Productions and Krohma Music, for partnering with us, and for helping create a one of a kind and remarkable experience. Thank you to the previous and current boards and executive boards of CBY. We would like to thank Dr. Steven Becker, Mrs. Chaya Schwartz, Mr. Avram Holzer, Mr. Eric Melzer, and Chazan Chaim Kiss, for their help and guidance in putting this together. Thank you to the administrative staff at CBY, Executive Director Mrs. Elysia Stein, and Shul Administrator, Mrs. Elizabeth Naor, for passionately working overtime in order to ensure that this program comes to fruition. Thank you to our all star social media manager, Mr. Netanel Katz, of Katz Media Network. Thank you to Mrs. Eliana Vann, of Vann Innovation. We would also like to thank Mr. Joel Kirschner, Executive Director of Yavneh Academy, for working to help us secure permits from the borough of Paramus on such short notice. Acharon acharon chaviv, thank you to our illustrious youth committee, Dr. Doron Katz, Mr. Henry Orlinsky, and Mrs. Sari Sheinfeld, for the innumerable hours spent helping us cultivate and actualize this idea, and for serving as mentors for us on personal, spiritual, and professional levels.”

Limited tickets are available at multiple price points and can be purchased at BlackArrowPro.com. Each ticket accounts for one vehicle.

By Ayelet Ehrenkranz