At a gala reception and dinner recognizing one of the world’s foremost rabbis for a lifetime of service to the Jewish community, a crowd of well over 300 joined together to pay tribute to Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler for his 50-plus years of leadership at Community Synagogue of Monsey (CSM) and his Torah leadership in the Jewish community at large. The event was organized by CSM, where Rabbi Tendler has served as rabbi for 50 years, and was held at the Valley Terrace Ballroom in Monsey.
For the hundreds attending the testimonial dinner, the evening provided an opportunity to express appreciation to Rabbi Tendler, while also serving as a time to reflect on the tremendous impact he had on generations of congregants and other members of the community.
“Rabbi Tendler has been an integral part of our lives over the past 50 years, and we have all learned immeasurably from the thousands of public shiurim he has given as well the personal guidance he has provided in times of joy and sadness,” said Dr. Martin Gewirtz, a past president of CSM and co-chair of the dinner planning committee. “We were very fortunate to be able to bring the community together at this dinner to accord Rabbi Tendler the honor he deserves. We’re extremely grateful to the hundreds of people who packed the ballroom and made the evening such a resounding success.”
An individual embodying a unique blend of religious and scientific expertise, Rabbi Tendler was ordained by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in 1949 and received a doctorate in biology from Columbia University in 1957. After moving to Monsey in 1960, he became rabbi of CSM in 1967, guiding what was for years the largest Orthodox synagogue in Rockland County. Rabbi Tendler also built Monsey’s first eruv, served as chaplain of the local fire department and was a board member of both the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education and Good Samaritan Hospital.
In addition to his varied contributions to Jewish life in Monsey, Rabbi Tendler is a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS. He also serves as the Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and a professor of biology at Yeshiva University (YU).
Following an opening reception, the program commenced with brief remarks by the evening’s master of ceremonies, CSM past president Menno Ratzker. Rabbi Menachem Penner, dean of RIETS, then delivered the invocation, praising Rabbi Tendler for his accomplishments, and marvelling at the way he combines the wisdom of senior talmid chacham with the energy and passion of a young student. The crowd was then shown a 14-minute video, which featured interviews with Rabbi Tendler and current and former congregants interspersed with highlights of his prestigious career, including various communal functions and a Time magazine feature on his scientific research.
Richard Joel, past president of YU, then addressed the crowd and eloquently discussed the positive influence Rabbi Tendler had on the community as well as the personal relationship they enjoyed. CSM past president David Koplon then presented Rabbi Tendler with a handcrafted plaque emblazoned with the words “Zichru toras Moshe avdi”—“Remember the words of Moshe, my servant”—that recognized this momentous anniversary. A clearly moved Rabbi Tendler thanked the crowd for their outpouring of love and spoke about his journey into the rabbinate, the meaning he derived from his position and his appreciation to the CSM community that allowed him to juggle the CSM rabbinic post along with his various teaching responsibilities.
The event was attended by a wide range of dignitaries, including Rabbi Joshua Blass of Kehilla Bais Yehuda in Wesley Hills, New York; Rabbi Dovid Feinstein of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem in New York City; Rabbi Reuven Feinstein of Yeshiva of Staten Island; Rabbi Yaakov Glasser of Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton and YU’s Center for the Jewish Future; Rabbi Yisroel Gottlieb of Congregation Bais Torah in Suffern, New York; and Rabbi Sholom Tendler of Mesivta Birkas Yitzchak in Los Angeles.
With the support of a fundraising effort held in conjunction with the tribute dinner, Community Synagogue also assumed the sponsorship of the Annual Conference of the YU Student Medical Ethics Society, a widely recognized forum for the discussion of Jewish medical values. Beginning with the next event, which is scheduled for December 10, the conference will bear the name of Rabbi Tendler for a five-year period.
The video shown at the dinner can also be accessed at this link: https://vimeo.com/user73951820.
Founded in 1954, Community Synagogue is one of the oldest Orthodox synagogues in Rockland County. For more than six decades, the Synagogue has been a focal point of the local Orthodox Jewish community.
By Shlomo Morgulis