June 22, 2024
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Congregation Beth Aaron’s Expanded Project THANKS Celebrates 10 Years

(Courtesy of Congregation Beth Aaron) Project THANKS began its journey a decade ago, providing its hakarat hatov, its heartfelt expression of gratitude, to Teaneck’s firefighters. This annual tradition, sponsored by Congregation Beth Aaron and chaired by Alden Leifer, has evolved into a cherished event that goes way beyond its initial scope.

In the early years, representatives gathered at the main fire station on Thanksgiving morning. Rabbi Larry Rothwachs delivered a brief yet impactful presentation to the firemen on duty, expressed gratitude to them for their dedicated service and offered blessings for their safety. A Thanksgiving dinner with “all the trimmings,” prepared by Ma’adan, was delivered to the fire station for the men to enjoy during their 24-hour shift.

The event expanded over time, incorporating a captivating tour of the fire station for children and their parents. This highlight of the event saw wide-eyed children enjoying the display of the large fire engines and gave them an opportunity to sit up front in one of the trucks.

One memorable year, attendees witnessed the firemen springing into action during a live emergency. The group watched as the firemen quickly got into their gear, mounted the trucks and with alarms blaring, covered their ears as they made their way out to ensure the safety of someone somewhere in Teaneck. Needless to say, the tour was unable to be completed that Thanksgiving but the excitement of seeing them in action more than made up for it. Recent years have seen the inclusion of the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps (TVAC) and more recently, the police department in Project THANKS. This expansion reflects a broader community commitment to appreciating all first responders.

This year, generous contributions from close to 100 families made the event possible. Partnering with Ma’adan, Congregation Beth Aaron ensured that once again Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings reached those on duty. Any surplus funds were directed toward enhancing the security needs of the congregation.

Battalion Chief Richard Burchell of the Teaneck Fire Department, along with all of his on-duty firefighters; Rabbi Daniel Senter, president of TVAC; and Tom Rowe, deputy manager of Teaneck Township, who acted as liaison to the police chief, deserve thanks for their assistance in making this year’s Project THANKS another successful event.

As the congregation reflected on the profound impact of its police and fire departments and TVAC on Teaneck families, Project THANKS stands as a poignant symbol of the community’s united support, respect and appreciation. To all who contributed and to the dedicated first responders, the congregation extended a heartfelt thank you. Hopefully everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and appreciation.

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