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Shaarei Orah of Teaneck Plans Inaugural Dinner

(Courtesy of Shaarei Orah) Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, will host its inaugural dinner on Sunday, March 10, at 5 p.m. at Ahavath Torah in Englewood.

This gala event celebrates the past, present and future of Shaarei Orah, the largest Sephardic congregation in Teaneck and the only synagogue in Teaneck dedicated solely to Sephardic tefillot and customs. Shaarei Orah, led by Rabbi Haim Jachter, is pleased to honor prominent leaders who directly contributed to the success of the synagogue. The dedication and commitment exhibited by the honorees have played a critical role in the growth of the kehilla. Heidi and Jack Varon will be honored as Binyanei Orah; Susan and Ezra Douek, Amy Elfman and Richard Schulz are the Guests of Honor, and Shalom Shushan will receive the Community Service Award.

Heidi and Jack Varon are true pillars of Shaarei Orah. It was their shared vision to build a kehilla in which Sephardim of all nationalities (and Ashkenazim) could come together to pray and carry on their heritage. Over 26 years ago a small group met every other Shabbat, rotating homes, before moving to a weekly minyan at the Varon home. After a year, the congregants began meeting regularly in the basement of a residence, but eventually began plans to build a new home to accommodate their expanding kehilla. Jack spearheaded the process, spending hundreds of hours working with architects, attorneys, consultants, banks and the Teaneck Zoning Board. In 2010, construction of the beautiful synagogue building at 1425 Essex Road in Teaneck began.

Previously serving as president and chairman of the board at Shaarei Orah, Jack is currently a director and lends his talent as a regular in the rotation of ba’alei kriah. Heidi collaborated with the architects to help create an aesthetically beautiful building and is currently an active member of Shorashai Orah, the recently created sisterhood at Shaarei Orah. She is consistently the first person to volunteer her time and incredible cooking and baking skills for events and meals for visitors and members.

The Varons sponsor a multitude of learning programs, guest chazanim and events, and regularly open their home to provide hospitality to visitors. Their contributions to Shaarei Orah, Teaneck and the greater Jewish community are done with extreme generosity but also with humility and without any need for acknowledgement or honor.

From the inception of Shaarei Orah, Ezra Douek has and continues to serve as chazan for Shabbat, Yamim Tovim, Yamim Noraim and for Selichot throughout Chodesh Elul. For many years Ezra coordinated kiddushim and the annual Simchat Torah seudah. Susan generously hosts meals for newcomers and out-of-towners and is a volunteer for Bergen County’s annual Chanukah toy drive, providing her home as a local drop-off site. The Doueks graciously donated the beautiful parochet, bima covering, and “contributed” four greatly needed kohanim to the Shabbat minyanim.

Richard Schulz served on Shaarei Orah’s board of trustees for many years, including as chairman of the board. He dedicated the current building’s social hall in memory of his parents. Richard is the chair of the speaker/scholars-in-residence committee and shares his talent as a regular in the rotation of ba’alei kriah. Amy Elfman contributed her professional experience by serving as the marketing and public relations chair for many years, writing press releases, marketing upcoming events and establishing local synagogue and media contacts. Amy also served as the events and programming chair, coordinating congregational events and holiday meals; wrote the initial content and helped launch the synagogue website. She serves as the liaison to social action causes and coordinates drives and collections. The Schulzes graciously welcome and provide meal hospitality to new kehilla members in their home.

Shalom Shushan has served as the gabbai for the past eight years and organizes the weekly rotation of ba’alei kriah, chazanim and aliyot. Shalom offers a keen ability to involve both members and guests as active participants in the tefilla. He is actively involved in the guest-chazan search committee and regularly works toward providing the most enjoyable davening experience for all congregants. He enthusiastically develops and involves children and teens in tefillot. In fact, Shalom was the founder of Shaarei Orah’s popular and successful parent-child youth learning program and organized many of the first Chanukah and Purim chagigot at the synagogue.

The Shaarei Orah dinner is a critical part of the kehilla’s fundraising efforts and helps ensure the continuity and growth of the Sephardic community while inspiring and educating children in Sephardic tefillah, halacha and minhagim.

For more information and to donate or purchase tickets to attend the dinner, visit www.sephardicteaneck.org/dinner2019� or contact [email protected] or (201) 833-0800.

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