April 20, 2024
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Shomrei Torah Hosts Shabbat of Celebration and Commemoration

Shomrei Torah of Fair Lawn is on a roll. After bar mitzvahs each of the previous two weeks, the shul followed with several special events this past Shabbat. One was an aliyah celebration for a family that has been an active part of the shul community for 50 years, the other a hakarat hatov commemoration for the town’s first responders.

Elaine and Michael Reinheimer moved to Fair Lawn in 1972 and became an integral part of the shul from its early years, forming a close relationship with Rabbi and Shevi Yudin. As they put it: “To be blessed with having the rabbi and Shevi as our leaders, personal advisers and treasured friends for half a century is something so special and beyond description. They have been with us for every joyous family lifecycle event and comforted us as well when needed. We will treasure the wonderful memories of this special shul and the close friendships we share with our members.”

In an unusual gesture following Michael’s Torah aliyah, current rabbinic leader Andrew Markowitz asked everyone to rise so he could say a special mi shebeirach for the Reinheimers. This was followed by dancing around the bimah and the singing of the Shavu Banim, something that occurred just two weeks earlier as well, as long-time members Michele and Jake Blatt also prepared to take leave of Fair Lawn for their new home in Israel. Hearing that song never gets old.

Rabbi Markowitz noted that the Reinheimers had accomplished a rare trifecta. Michael had served as both men’s club and shul president, while Elaine held the position of sisterhood president. What makes this particular aliyah unique is that they will be accompanied by Elaine’s mother, Stella Rockoff. At age 101, she is one of the oldest people to make the journey through Nefesh b’Nefesh. She will be returning to the land of her birth to not just be with her daughter and son-in-law, but with her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and yes, even great-great-grandchildren.

The Reinheimers noted that it was a difficult decision to leave Fair Lawn, but were ecstatic to be able to join their daughter and son, Rena and Chaim, who had settled in Israel and raised families years earlier.

The festivities didn’t end there. Following the morning davening, Fair Lawn first responders were ushered into the shul for a special tribute, the third such gesture of hakarat hatov since the 9/11 attack. Although most of the representatives of the fire, police, volunteer ambulance and legislature, as well as Mayor Peluso, were too young to have actively provided aid and comfort during 9/11, they represented the concept of being protectors and for that they received a hearty round of applause. It was truly a Kiddush Hashem as Rabbi Markowitz made it clear they are not taken for granted. He then introduced Shomrei Torah member Howard Eisenstadter, who shared his personal 9/11 story, having been near the epicenter at his job at 4 World Trade Center when the first plane hit.

The morning events concluded with a kiddush. Members and first responders had a chance to partake and mingle, and all had the opportunity to bid farewell to the Reinheimers.


Robert Isler is a marketing research analyst and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected].

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