Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Paramus—To commemorate the twen­­tieth yahrzeit of Frisch alumna Alisa Flatow z”l, The Frisch School held a memorial lecture on Thursday, May 7 featuring renowned speaker Charlie Harary. More than 600 students and faculty—as well as members of Flatow’s family and many of her classmates—were in attendance for the morning program dedicated in Flatow’s memory and sponsored by The Frisch School Class of 1992.

Flatow was killed by terrorists in April 1995 in a bus bombing in the Gaza Strip. She had been a student at Brandeis University, on a semester abroad in Jerusalem where she studied at Nishmat.

Former classmates of Flatow approached the Frisch administration with a request to create a program that would highlight their late friend’s life, not just the way she died. “All of the current Frisch students see Alisa’s picture on the wall and they know her name, and that she was killed by terrorists,” said David Ruditzky, a friend of Flatow’s who helped organize the event. “But there was so much more to her. People should remember her as she lived, not just as she died.” Another Frisch alumna and classmate, Jessica Gellis Landa, concurred. “Alisa was such a warm, friendly person. Everyone loved her.”

Frisch principal Rabbi Eli Ciner conceived of the idea to create a program to honor Flatow on Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer. He explained that traditionally Lag B’Omer is a day to celebrate friendship, because it was on this day many years ago that the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s students—who were punished as a result of their lack of respect for one another—stopped. “Alisa, z”l, was as a friend to all,” Rabbi Ciner said. “So it seemed most fitting to honor her on this day.”

Charlie Harary was chosen as a speaker for the program because he is well known for his inspirational talks. A lawyer by training, he is a social entrepreneur with his own venture capital firm, as well as a professor at the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University.

On Thursday morning, Flatow’s former classmate David Ruditzky introduced the program with anecdotes that highlighted her fun, warm, loving personality. Harary then took the podium. Everyone in the packed auditorium listened raptly as he retold the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, and reinforced how important it is for Jews to recognize the Divine spirit in all of us.

Harary also told the audience that he had actually gone to Flatow’s funeral twenty years ago, even though he did not know her personally. He said he has been inspired by her father’s quest to pursue litigation against countries like Iran, which fund terrorism, as well as to create legislation within the United States to help support victims of terror.

Ruditzky said he was pleased with the program. “I’m glad we were able to highlight Alisa as the wonderful person she was instead of just as someone who passed away. This program hopefully helps prove to Frisch students that true friendships really do last a lifetime.”

By Cheryl Leiser

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