As any reader of our paper knows, we have a lot going on in our communities, with so many events, programs and all manner of happenings throughout our entire area. Readers and friends will often come and tell me they are literally blown away by how much is going on here and how many events are being written about and advertised in The Jewish Link. I love hearing that and I often nod my head and agree and say, kein yirbu! I also often like to respond by saying that I feel privileged to be the publisher of a community paper in a growing community. I and our editors all want people to read our paper every week, and we hope it shows that we are very happy to be part of such a dynamic and vibrant community.
It’s true, though, that there are some whirlwind weekends that really stretch even my loose definition of “busy and overprogrammed.” This past weekend was one such weekend. I know that many parents with children of all ages feel they are often running from event to event from the moment Havdala ends on Motzei Shabbat until late Sunday night, and I definitely know that feeling...but this weekend was unique for me and our family.
Although I am going out of order and working backward, my final event of the weekend took place this past Sunday night when I attended the lively, leibedig, rocking annual Tu B’Shevat celebration at Teaneck’s Yeshivas Bais Mordechai (YBM), which many Teaneck old-timers still call the Yeshiva Gedolah. Over the years, and in part due to The Jewish Link, I have gotten to meet the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Eliyahu Roberts, and many of his veteran talmidim and alumni. I have always been impressed by its warm atmosphere.
Attending the Tu B’Shevat celebration this year has now taken my appreciation for this institution to another level. With the help of the Yedidim Choir; a beautifully decorated fruit “tree”, cake, kugels and exotic fruit platters by the dozens, I and my son Zev were zocheh to participate in a high-energy, ruach-filled Tu B’Shevat celebration unlike any I have participated in the past.
With the music and dancing going almost nonstop for three hours, Rabbi Roberts led the yeshiva and many guests from Teaneck and Bergenfield in making brachos on all kinds of fruit. He also handed out what I was told was homemade esrog jam and gave brachos to almost everyone who was there, including myself at least twice. My son Zev loved it and was dancing and jumping up and down for almost two hours straight and I literally could not get him to leave. It was also heartwarming to see Rabbi Roberts leading the singing for the last hour or so, and although I am not—yet—a yeshiva insider, that didn’t matter much to anyone. All were welcome at the yeshiva and we were all happy to be there. It was a special Tu B’Shevat night and I will not forget it. Count me and my son Zev in for next year!
The Rest of the Weekend…
As if that were not enough, this was actually just one part of my weekend. Earlier that Sunday, I was a coach at my youngest son Eyal’s Mitch Gross Basketball League (MGBL) game (where he proudly plays on The Jewish Link of NJ team). Thankfully, this game was not too taxing on my heart, throat, lungs, and blood pressure as our game was a relatively easy win for our team. Shortly after that, and as a true second-generation “basketball father,” I also drove that same son to play at a second game for his other basketball team, the Bergen Broncos.
All these games came after standing in front of my shul for three hours in the freezing cold asking Sunday morning minyan-goers to sign candidate ballot nomination petitions for my co-publisher, partner, and friend Mark (Mendy) Schwartz and two new candidates, Karen Orgen and Michael Pagan, who will all be running together in the upcoming Teaneck council elections in May under the Moving Teaneck Forward banner. (There will be more on these critical elections in future editions.)
This takes me back to this past Motzei Shabbat where, shortly after Havdalah, I took Eyal to a unique event in Fair Lawn: the 2020 Table Tennis Tournament at Congregation Shomrei Torah, sponsored by the Naftoli Aron Torah Enrichment Program (NATEP), and run almost single handedly by Mendy Aron, a long-time Fair Lawn resident and committed Shomrei Torah member. One of the best things I love about my job is that I get to meet with and often befriend and partner with so many of our community’s doers and builders. Mendy is one of Fair Lawn’s finest in this regard. For the past 14 years he has been running weekly Torah programs such as Torah Tuesday (which is certainly not just for Tuesday anymore), Sunday breakfast programs, annual trips to local museums, West Point, Yankee games and more. Mendy explained to me at the tournament that he has been able to do “a lot more” for the community since he retired in the last few years. I hope Hashem gives Mendy the strength to continue all that he is doing for many years to come. Shomrei Torah and Fair Lawn need you!
At the smoothly organized and beautifully catered tournament, 36 players in four divisions of all ages competed fiercely for the right to win cash prizes for the local yeshivas they were representing. The event was a nice fundraiser for the winning schools, and everyone enjoyed the fun atmosphere. Many families had multiple generations competing, and I enjoyed seeing fathers, sons and siblings all playing and rooting for each other. For my first-ever table tennis tournament, I must say that I enjoyed it immensely.
(And please see pics on page 118.)
Where did this love for ping pong come from? Our family has long had a ping pong table that sat in our garage, and we took it only occasionally in the spring and summer. Early this past summer, Eyal convinced me that it was worth the serious effort to dismantle the table to fit it through our basement door and reassemble it inside. So we now have a ping pong center in the area that used to be called our basement, and my two youngest sons and I play quite often. Unfortunately and in part due to moving the table there, I am no longer able to beat them, although thankfully I still keep it respectable most of the time. Eyal almost won our shul’s ping pong tournament a few months ago and he was eager to take on more serious competition in Fair Lawn. Although Eyal lost in the championship in his division, he still had a really good time. He was so proud that he was able to compete with and beat players much older than him, and I was happy for him as well. He and I look forward to returning next year.
Oh...and right after Eyal lost, I had to take him to a late-night hockey game that lasted until around 11. It was quite the busy weekend!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer, Co-Publisher,
The Jewish Link of New Jersey