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Religious and High-Ranking Stars Come Out for BPJCC Annual Gathering

On stage listening to Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries make a humorous remark are BPJCC CEO Avi Greenstein, BPJCC President Isaac Stern; and Councilman Kalman Yeger, emcee for the evening.

The stars aligned as the glitterati in the Borough Park Jewish community came out for a legislative barbeque on Aug. 2 to receive awards from the Borough Park Jewish Community Council (BPJCC) and to support the recipients as guests feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers, deli meats, salads, sushi and a virtual gastronomic extravaganza of food.

There was no charge to attend the event. Fidelis Care, Metropolitan Community Bank and Brooklyn Square picked up the cost of the f?te.

Six major community, political and appointed individuals were honored in front of a crowd of more than 250 people for keeping Borough Park a safe and family-friendly place to live.

The following awards were present:

Congressional Leadership Award: Hakeem Jeffries (D–Crown Heights), 53, representing the 8th Congressional District;

Lifetime Chesed Award: Olga Lipschitz, a Holocaust survivor and the founder of Heritage Levavot [hearts];

Community Guardian Award: Scott Averill, senior vice president for sales at Fidelis Care, Hakaras Hatov (the appreciation for good) Award: Fred Kreizman, New York City commissioner, Community Affairs Unit;

Distinguished Service Award: Simcha Eichenstein (D–Midwood/Boro Park), 40, an assemblyman representing the 48th Assembly District and a member of former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s legislative affairs team in Albany;

Borough Leadership Award: Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso (D–Williamsburg), 40.

Others who spoke at the event included Isaac Stern, BPJCC president; Rabbi Avi Greenstein, BPJCC CEO; Israel Nitzan, acting consul general from Israel; Inspector Richie Taylor, the highest ranking frum officer in the NYPD who currently serves as the commanding officer of the NYPD Community Affairs Outreach Unit; Senator Kevin Parker (D Flatbush); and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine (D-Manhattan).

The tone for the speeches changed to the suffering and the problems plaguing the Big Apple and acknowledged the work of the Commissioner Fred Kreizman, who heads New York City’s community affairs unit and is the person who devises the plans to mitigate catastrophes.

“There’s a lot of pain behind many apartment doors right here in Borough Park. There’s a lot of suffering behind those doors. A lot of suffering inside many homes. Fred is at the forefront. He brings the resources of the entire city of New York,” said Inspector Richie Taylor, the highest ranking frum officer in the NYPD. “It takes the best [Mayor Eric Adams] to know the best and appoint the best. Fred doesn’t do this because he has to. He does this because he wants to.”

Kreizman began his remarks by sharing that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors.

“This is really a coming home for me. My parents were immigrants. My grandparents came in 1974. My grandfather was a butcher in Borough Park. I grew up on 9th Avenue and 48th Street. I went to a yeshiva in Borough Park.” He continued, “I don’t only accept this award for me but for the whole administration because it is teamwork but in dedication for my grandparents who came to Borough Park as Holocaust survivors. At the mayor’s office, we don’t take anything for granted. This is a mayor who believes in appointing people with empathy. Each and every day we look on not wasting the day.”

Eichenstein took time from his busy Wednesday schedule to stay for the entire two-and-a-half-hour program. As time was running out and he was the final speaker of the evening, he kept his remarks to a bare minimum.

“The truth is I should be presenting this award to the Borough Park JCC. Avi, Yitzy Stern, Jules Fleischer and the entire team, I want to thank you for the partnership,” Eichenstein said. “Avi, to you personally, you have taken this organization and you’ve really turned it into a multi-faceted social services organization.”

The Brooklyn Borough president expressed his gratitude to the BPJCC for its help in ways the government might not be able to work fast enough.

“What the Borough Park Jewish Community Council does is take care of the people who need the most help. If you listen to the way Avi speaks about these issues, you know that he’s not in it for the money, the fame, the glory, all of which he doesn’t get a lot of. He did it because he actually cares about people. That is the kind of organization we need to pay attention to and support,” Reynoso said.

Then, totally out of character and messaging for the audience, Reynoso turned his focus to a Brooklyn rapper, The Notorious B.I.G., aka Christopher Wallace. Reynoso recalled the rapper’s famous expression, “‘Spread love. It’s the Brooklyn way.’ No one has done that better than the Borough Park JCC.”

In his remarks, Averill noted: “We are on a mission to provide as much health insurance to as many New Yorkers as possible, particularly those in need. As the state’s largest safety net provider with more than 2.6 million members, we’re on a mission to continue that, especially now with redeterminations going on where people have to requalify for coverage. It’s with partners like the BPJCC that we accomplish that mission.”

Ever the promoter of Borough Park, Rabbi Greenstein sees his world through mostly rose-colored glasses and invariably only on the bright side. He doesn’t speak about the doom and gloom the police department expresses with a lot of pain existing behind the closed doors of Borough Park apartments.

“Borough Park is a thriving and growing and vibrant community. A story that is not being told often enough and loud enough,” Greenstein told The Jewish Link exclusively. “[Borough Park] is a story of businesses prospering, families that are being raised in the most beautiful and safest environment, minimal to zero crime. You see children who are well-dressed, well-fed, well-mannered. This is not by accident. This is the core of an educational foundation of institutions that from the cradle, as they grow, teach children ethics, teach families to lead a Torah life. We are not a religious program. We are a community-based program that has to look out for this community’s needs and make sure that nobody falls through the cracks. We want them [the elected officials] to appreciate this community for what it is contributing to society. At the same time, you want to hear from them that we have partners at all levels of government that are caring for us and when there are issues of a hate crime, we can know that they have our back.”


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