July 11, 2024
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Congregation Ahavas Israel of Passaic Commissions Sefer Torah in Memory of Sholom Dreyfuss, z’l

From the first Shabbat that he and wife, Chaya, moved to Passaic, Sholom Dreyfuss, z’l became a regular davener at Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic. The morah d’asra of Ahavas Israel, Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, who has led the congregation for the past 25 years, recalled how across the years, as his family grew to include five sons, now ranging in age from 19 to 5, the Dreyfuss boys would enter the shul, always on time if not a bit early, and imbue it with a feeling of kavod hamakom and kavod haTorah.

Sholom Dreyfuss grew up in Kew Gardens Hills where the Dreyfuss family was highly regarded as prominent and involved members of the community. Davening alongside his grandfather, a’h and father, Dreyfuss learned the art of punctilious leyning, never allowing for even the slightest error in trop or mispronunciation. It was this precision that he brought with him as he served as the highly regarded baal koreh at Ahavas Israel. It was obvious to all that Dreyfuss spent many hours preparing the weekly leyning and on occasion would even stop if he felt he had not gotten it right.

On yud Kislev of 2020, the Wednesday evening prior to Thanksgiving, Sholom Dreyfuss, 42, was tragically taken from his family and community due to complications of COVID-19. As the vaccinations were only first available in January of 2021, Dreyfuss was unvaccinated and unable to ward off the effects of the virulent virus. When shuls first reopened after the initial wave in the spring of 2020, he was careful not to leave his home. But slowly as precautions emerged and became communally accepted, he emerged and returned to shul wearing a mask. But unfortunately, the virus eventually found its way into the Dreyfuss home and his body succumbed. His kevura took place in Lakewood on Thanksgiving in the presence of his heartbroken family and friends.

Shortly after his petira, close friend Ely Markowitz, then president of Ahavas Israel, discussed with Jonathan Pittinsky, the shul’s vice president, ways that they could honor and pay tribute to Sholom. From those discussions emerged the idea of commissioning a sefer Torah in memory of their dear chaver. Both Markowitz and Pittinsky felt this would be the most fitting tribute to a special individual who ensured that the tzibbur would be zoche to a perfect leyning every Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Despite the abundance of daily minyanim taking place at Ahavas Israel, often over 30 according to Rav Eisenman, the shul actually owns only one sefer Torah. The rest are on loan from the families within the shul and community. It was therefore a most fitting tribute to the memory of their friend who had so devotedly served as the shul’s outstanding baal koreh. When they approached Chaya, she readily agreed to the project, saying, “This was what he lived for.” Thus the sefer Torah project was put into motion.

Markowitz, now serving as the full-time gabbai, and Pittinsky, now serving as vice president of facilities and gabbai, are spearheading the commissioning of the new sefer Torah, along with Sholom’s longtime friend Shaya Eisenman. The sefer will be written in Eretz Yisrael, hopefully with a completion date of before Pesach. A shul and community celebration is being planned around the dedication. A campaign to raise funds is ongoing in Passaic as well as communities with connections to the Dreyfuss family including Kew Gardens Hills, the Five Towns and Baltimore.

In remembering his chaver, Markowitz shared: “Sholom was a highly successful computer programmer, but he comported himself with sincere anivus. Everybody felt that he was their best friend. They would seek him out for personal and professional advice, which he would share easily. He would laugh but also remained very serious.The well-being of his family was his first priority and he set a high bar for his sons to follow. In the yekki tradition, he would not allow his boys to wear a tallis under bar mitzvah unless they displayed the proper comportment. His passion was not davening, not public speaking, but leyning to perfection.”

Rav Eisenman, in speaking for the shul as well as for himself and his family, said: “Every time we take out a sefer Torah, we all look towards Sholom’s seat. We remember how serious he was as he walked up to the Torah. It hasn’t really hit us yet that he is no longer with us. His precise and heartfelt leyning was no less than amazing. We look forward to remembering him through a new sefer Torah in our shul dedicated by his hundreds of admirers.”

To contribute to the sefer Torah campaign in memory of Sholom Dreyfuss, contact the office of Congregation Ahavas Israel at 973-777-5929 or email [email protected]. You can also contribute by visiting http://www.ahavasisrael.org/DreyfussTorah.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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