July 18, 2024
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Congregation Beth Aaron Celebrates Jubilee Year

The excitement and preparations have been going on for a few months in anticipation of Teaneck’s Congregation Beth Aaron’s Jubilee celebration to be held on Sunday, March 6 at 5 p.m. at Congregation Keter Torah. Fifty years ago, Congregation Beth Aaron was established as the first Orthodox shul to serve the areas south of Route 4 as well as the Country Club area. It was initially housed in a private home. A shul building was constructed in 1985 and subsequently expanded in 2010 to its present size in a modern, state-of-the-art facility on the corner of Queen Anne Road and Edgemont Terrace. Its current membership includes close to 400 members, and even during the past two years of the pandemic the membership has grown by 30 families.

It is commonly noted that Beth Aaron is one of the friendliest and most engaging shuls in Teaneck as it retains its small, out-of-town community feel. Ongoing programs appeal to all segments of the shul community, including evening Gemara shiurim, Shabbat Mishnah groups for the youth, lecture series addressing current Torah topics such as “Torah Demystified,” book clubs, and most recently, an evening beit midrash offering a personalized learning program to participants. Children are included in programs such as parent-child learning, art competitions, origami workshops and the ongoing Junior Congregation.

In anticipation of the dinner, the shul reached out to the over 100 families and individuals who made aliyah from Beth Aaron over the course of 50 years. Many were interviewed and expressed their warm feelings and gratitude to Beth Aaron for the encouragement they received from former rabbis and for the past 20 years from Rabbi and Chaviva Rothwachs as they planned their aliyah. In the works is a decorative plaque that will be hung in the lobby of the shul, listing the names of the olim and to which names will be added as the roster grows.

The honorees at the upcoming milestone dinner have been members of Congregation Beth Aaron for many years and have served in many different valuable capacities.

Guests of Honor Feige and Abe Leidner joined Beth Aaron over 40 years ago, initially walking from the Terrace Circle Apartments. Over these many years, they have served the shul in both formal and informal roles. Abe served for 35 years on the board of directors in positions including vice president, recording secretary, member of the building committee and chairman of the house committee. His professional expertise as an engineer and subcontracts director have made him an invaluable member of the team, enabling the shul’s physical expansions. Feige has served as Sisterhood president and financial secretary multiple times. Her skills as a bookkeeper have enabled her to volunteer for many additional shul projects over the years.

The Leidners raised their three children within the Beth Aaron community. Adina and Elliot Bernstein, Yehuda and Aviva Leidner, and Akiva and Elana Leidner have fond memories of growing up in the shul. Currently, four of the Leidner grandchildren are also being raised in the Beth Aaron community. The Leidners expressed that they are accepting this great honor out of a sense of responsibility and gratitude to the shul, Rabbi Rothwachs and the kehilla.

The Shelly Leffel Service Award will be conferred upon the three leaders of the Beth Aaron Youth Minyan—Rabbi Moshe Kinderlehrer, Rabbi Stephen Knapp and Steven Pudell. These three gentlemen, who are highly successful professionals in publishing, chinuch and law, devote themselves weekly to ensuring that the youth of Beth Aaron learn to daven and leyn properly in the true spirit of avodas Hashem.

Moshe and Dena Kinderlehrer joined Beth Aaron over 20 years ago on the Shabbat of Rabbi Rothwach’s trial Shabbat. From this auspicious start, they have continued to be active and devoted members of the shul. Moshe served briefly as a board member and was involved in one of the first weekly learning/chevruta programs as well as on the fundraising committee. His affiliation with the youth minyan began over 10 years ago when he realized that the smaller and relaxed atmosphere of its surroundings would serve their son Zev well. Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Rothwachs approached him to co-lead the minyan with Rabbi Knapp and Steven Pudell. Sons Noam and Eyal also participate in the minyan, where they have honed their davening and leyning skills. Moshe enjoys challenging the teens with thought-provoking questions. He was willing to accept the honor as he feels privileged to be part of the youth minyan, which is such an integral and vital component of Beth Aaron.

Professionally, Moshe Kinderlehrer is the founder and co-publisher of the dynamic weekly Jewish Link of New Jersey-Expanded Edition and The Jewish Link Media Group. The well-received paper, which got its start in Bergen County, now serves much of New Jersey, including Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties, as well as the Bronx, Westchester Connecticut and Manhattan, and has helped launch many other weekly Jewish periodicals in the Northeast, providing serious and vital news to the Jewish community about local, national and international events. His wife, Dena, serves as the office manager at The Jewish Link of New Jersey and Jewish Link Media Group. The Kinderlehrers are also highly involved in the lay leadership of HASC, the Friendship Circle of Bergen County and a new special-needs housing organization, the Bayit Association of New Jersey. They are the proud parents of Tamar (22; engaged to Isaac Aronoff of Englewood), Zev (20), Noam (18) and Eyal (14.).

Rabbi Stephen Knapp, who grew up in Southern New Jersey, spent many NCSY Shabbatot in Teaneck, some even at Beth Aaron. When he and wife, Chavie, decided to make their home in Teaneck, they opted for the Beth Aaron community, chiefly because of the recent hire of Rabbi Larry and Chaviva Rothwachs. They viewed Congregation Beth Aaron as a community of growth-minded people, who were dedicated to and passionate about their davening and caring about the needs of others. After earning semicha from RIETS and a master’s in Jewish education, Rabbi Knapp entered the field of Jewish education, serving in leadership positions at North Shore Hebrew Academy, Westchester Day School, and currently as principal of the Elementary and Middle School Divisions of Hillel Yeshiva in Deal, New Jersey.

Rabbi Knapp’s service to Beth Aaron has been mainly focused upon the youth minyan, He initially joined the leadership as a way to accommodate his five young children and assist his wife on Shabbat mornings. Ten years later, his children are older but Rabbi Knapp still oversees the youth minyan as he sees it as an exceptionally rewarding opportunity for young people to take responsibility for their own davening. From this minyan, Rabbi Knapp foresees generations of chazzanim and baalei kriah with impeccable skills and motivation. The Knapps are the proud parents of five talented children: Amalya (18), Eli (16), Rami (15), Sophie (13) and Dalya (11). Rabbi Knapp expressed that the Shelly Leffel Award being bestowed upon him is a tribute to the youth of Beth Aaron.

The third Shelly Leffel Service Awardee is Steven Pudell. The Pudells shared, “The inclusive, warm and growth-oriented environment of Beth Aaron drew them to the shul initially and has remained their second home for over 26 years.” The Pudells raised their four children within the Beth Aaron family. Shoshana (28), Akiva (25), Naftali (22) and Gavriel (19) all recall many positive experiences growing up in Beth Aaron.

Professionally, Pudell serves as a shareholder in the law firm of Anderson Kill where he has served as an attorney for the past 25 years. His youth work began even prior to his professional life when he was a student at Yeshiva University and served as an NCSY adviser. He and his wife, Nechama, served as youth leaders in the Lower Merion Synagogue in Pennsylvania. While raising his family, Pudell coached soccer for the Teaneck Soccer League and Baseball for TBO, for which he served as president. He has served as an assistant coach for the MTA high school baseball team and as a certified soccer referee for US Soccer in New Jersey and New York. He is a volunteer at Yeshiva University’s soccer team as well.

Pudell joined the leadership of the Beth Aaron youth minyan initially to daven alongside his sons. He feels that through the minyan the boys are given a solid grounding in serving as baalei tefilla, leyning, functioning as a gabbai along with learning the meaning of the tefillot and developing true kavod for the beit knesset. Most importantly, this is all achieved in a non-intimidating and comfortable environment. Pudell initiated kiddushim and learning sessions to follow the Shabbat minyan. Now that his sons are grown and living in Israel, Pudell is leaving his leadership in the capable hands of Rabbis Kinderlehrer and Knapp, but is available if needed.

Finally, the Eitan Shapiro Youth Leadership Award is being presented to Kayla-Rachel Michal Singer, daughter of active Beth Aaron members Moishe B. and Yacha Singer. She is currently a senior at Ma’ayanot, where her friends describe her as caring, dedicated, creative, helpful and friendly. Singer utilizes these characteristics in serving the Teaneck community as an EMT for the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps as well as the chapter co-president of Teaneck NCSY.

Singer has been selected to receive Beth Aaron’s Youth Leadership Award as her entire childhood and current teenage years were spent serving Beth Aaron alongside her father and mother, helping in every major or minor activity they were involved in, including setting up the Shabbat kiddushim together with brother Eli-L. She has assisted in the mishloach manot project, as well as typesetting the dinner journal. She is most likely the longest active Shabbat youth leader, beginning as early as fifth grade. Her aspiration is to study business and medicine. Through her involvement in the Teaneck community and Beth Aaron and through the model set by her parents, Singer has truly internalized the characteristics of capable and genuine leadership.

To RSVP for the dinner or to contribute in honor of the awardees, go to Bethaaron.org/dinner.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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