While the greater Teaneck community reflects back on a year without their beloved Rabbi Dovid Kaminetsky, and the first yahrzeit coincided with the last day of school for many yeshivot, events leading up to this day reflected who Rabbi Kaminetsky was. The Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey introduced “Learn, Lead and Live Like Rabbi K,” as a means to imbue his values into the overall environment and future generations of students who will not know him personally. This was the brainchild of Rabbi Avi Bernstein, middle school boys principal, who also incorporated a learning component with a weekly “Following in the Ways of Our Beloved Rabbi K” learning program.
As part of the “Live Like Rabbi K” portion, RYNJ organized a yom chesed together with Yad Leah and Bikur Cholim of Bergen County. As part of the Yad Leah event, the lower school boys and girls gathered to pack new pens, pencils, erasers and glue sticks into brightly colored school supply cases. The middle school girls collected new beach towels and packaged them in cellophane and ribbon to send to Israel. The middle school boys worked with Bikur Cholim Bergen County and assembled hospitality toiletry packages for the bikur cholim apartments near Hackensack Hospital. Even the preschool was able to participate by decorating cards to bring cheer to those who may need it. The sixth grade girls also had their annual visit to Daughters of Miriam to coincide with the school’s yom chesed.
“The Kaminetsky family has close connections with these organizations,” explained Mrs. Nechama Pudell, a teacher at RYNJ and the person behind the yom chesed. “Rabbi Kaminetsky wanted everyone to be happy, have positive self-esteem and cared about the whole person. Yad Leah brings simcha and dignity to those who can’t afford new clothes, school supplies and towels. That is why we chose to have the lower school boys and girls fill and donate pencil cases so children in Israel should start school b’simcha and feeling good.”
“Often it is the small gifts in life which make you happy,” said Jessica Katz of Yad Leah. “When a child struggling with difficult life circumstances receives a fresh pack of school supplies or a cuddly new towel, he or she feels like someone cares and is looking out for them.”
Bikur Cholim Bergen County helps people dealing with illnesses, especially if they are not connected to a shul with a chesed system in place. “The beautiful cards created by our early childhood division will bring a smile to people’s faces,” said Pudell.
“We at Bikur Cholim Bergen County felt honored to participate in an RYNJ program in memory of Rabbi Kaminetsky,” said Meredith Yager, Bikur Cholim Bergen County co-president. “We know how instrumental Rabbi K was in laying the foundation in the greater Teaneck community and we are inspired by how much he loved and cared for every person.”
“We try to emulate those same values and with the donation from the students at RYNJ, we can continue to support the families faced with medical crises both in the local hospitals and within the Bergen community,” said co-president Tsipi Gurell.
Rabbi Kaminetsky was a community figure, and the effect of the yom chesed went beyond the RYNJ environment, with the supply and towel drive known in the North Jersey area. Pudell related that when she was in Target pushing a cart full of towels, someone approached her and inquired as to whether she was shopping for the Yad Leah drive. When she confirmed that she was, the person took the towels and bought half of them for the drive.
“The yom chesed was a powerful morning in which everyone in the building played a part in adding to Rabbi Kaminetsky’s merit,” said Rabbi Bernstein.
Together with the community, RYNJ packedover 260 pencil cases full of supplies, over 75 new beach towels, over 175 bags of toiletries for Bikur Cholim of Bergen County, decorated over 200 Bikur Cholim cards and had over 70 girls visit Daughters of Miriam.
“At the Yom Chesed each student had an opportunity to send that message of ‘I care about you.’ What a beautiful and fitting way to carry on Rabbi K’s legacy of recognizing and thinking about each individual,” said Katz.
To make a donation, help cover costs or run a yom chesed of your own, contact [email protected] or bikurcholimbergencounty.org.�
By Jenny Gans