July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Two Very Special Weddings to Start the Summer

(l-r) My son, Zev, looking sharp with former HASC counselor Eli Sklar at the wedding last year of another former counselor, Aaron Mandel. Eli got married to Rachee Ganchrow last Wednesday night.

With this week’s edition, I hereby declare the beginning of the summer for The Jewish Link, as our print edition shrinks a bit, there seems to be less local news and events, and our Schools and Sports sections are vastly diminished. This is also the first week of our growing Camps section with a nice number sending first day pictures. Our editors and staff all know that I generally don’t love the summertime business-wise, as our readership and advertisers are a bit less active, with fewer events and programs going on. I call this period our paper’s “summer swoon” and over the years, I have come to accept these slower summer weeks as part and parcel of the annual business cycle of our paper.

I certainly do recognize that these few weeks are also good for our staff as the fierce pace of our weekly deadline cycle does slow, even though our deadlines don’t change. These summer weeks are also a time for many of our staff to take off a week here or there. It’s also a time for me and our staff to think about new projects and initiatives for the upcoming fall and winter. So I have learned to take the somewhat smaller paper in the summer and weaker numbers with a more positive eye. It is what it is.

Another part of the early summer that my wife and I always enjoy are the multiple smachot we feel privileged to be able to attend as friends of ours are now beginning to marry off their older children. My wife and I are now in the midst of a two-week span filled with six weddings, multiple engagement parties and l’chaims, and it feels as if we have something almost every night, thank God!

However, I would like to make note of two special weddings that took place this past Wednesday and Monday nights respectively and talk a bit about the two chatanim. My first wedding was the wedding of Eli Sklar of New Milford and Rachee Ganchrow of the Five Towns. Eli was a counselor at Camp HASC a few years ago and even though he was never my son’s counselor, he took a special liking to Zev and his bunkmates. Eli visited Zev throughout the school year and loved to take him out to eat and hang out together in Teaneck. We always enjoyed speaking with Eli when he came to our house to visit and pick up Zev and our fondness and affection for him only grew over the past few years.

Rabbi Avi Rosalimsky with his kallah, Atara Aharon, at their wedding this past Monday evening.

Although we have certainly had some special former counselors of Zev stay in touch and visit and take Zev out, Eli’s relationship with Zev was special, especially because he wasn’t even Zev’s counselor. Eli kept in touch and he even took Zev out on an outing with his future kallah, Rachee, while they were dating. Eli earned a special place in our heart and when he invited Zev to the wedding, we had to make sure Zev would be there.

So there I was last Wednesday night at the wedding hall, serving as my son’s plus one and sidekick, which is a role I have enjoyed at least six to seven times before at the weddings of some of Zev’s former counselors. I can report that it’s a unique experience attending a wedding where you are there mainly because your son with special needs/autism was invited. It was very special to watch Zev dancing with Eli’s friends with gusto, and with Eli himself. After the early parts of the dancing, Zev also liked to stand in front of the band and keep a close eye on Simcha Leiner, who was the main act for the simcha. Zev loved trying to get Simcha’s attention, although I am not sure he succeeded too often. It was a very special simcha.

The simcha also brought a tear or two to my eye as Zev is now the exact same age as Eli and his chevra and I imagine he might have been in similar social circles if he were not in the special needs world. This is something that I think all parents of children with special needs sometimes think about and I can’t help thinking about it when I attend the weddings of young adults around Zev’s age. It was not an issue for me when Zev was much younger than his counselors and I don’t think it will be as big of an issue for me going forward as Zev is now a few years older than most of his current counselors at HASC, but at this wedding with his peers, I couldn’t help but think a little about “what if?” while we were dancing at the simcha. Weddings can be emotion-inducing, for sure.

This past Monday night was the second special wedding, featuring Rabbi Avi Rosalimsky and Atara Aharon. Avi (or “Rabbi Rose” to my youngest son and his friends) grew up in Teaneck and I first met him when he was in high school and worked as a baseball umpire in TBO (Teaneck Baseball Organization) while my younger sons were playing baseball. Avi was a great youth umpire who handled parents and coaches well and I always liked it when he umpired my sons’ games. However, being an umpire was only the first of countless positive interactions I have had with him over the past decade involving our community’s youth and teens. Simply put, Avi is a true nonprofit and educational entrepreneur and wherever he saw and felt that he could fill a need for the youth of his home community, he did so with aplomb and positive energy. He has started and directed so many projects, programs, leagues and camps, it’s almost hard to believe or keep track, and I am being serious. Avi has truly accomplished so much in only a few short years.

What has he done? I will attempt to capture as much as possible. While finishing Yeshiva College, Avi and others felt that Bergenfield needed its own youth baseball league and co-founded the Bergenfield Youth Baseball League, better known today as BBO. Shortly after that, Avi identified a need and demand for a ninth and 10th grade boys travel camp and he launched RTC in 2019. RTC Impact (as it’s now called) is today under the auspices of NCSY, but Avi is still deeply involved as the founding director. And in the past two years, he also launched the RTB (Ready to Ball) basketball programs in Teaneck and in the Five Towns. In addition, Avi is also a founding co-commissioner of the Bergen County Flag Football league, on top of his BBO responsibilities.

In addition to all of the above, Avi is also today a beloved full-time rebbe at Yeshivat Noam, the director of student life at Heichal HaTorah and the boys program director of the Teaneck My Extended Family chapter; he also served as the teen youth director at Cong. Beth Abraham for much of the past few years, and was also until recently the executive director of Kulanu, a MetroWest NJ-based afterschool program for Jewish teens who are not attending Jewish day schools.

Other roles that he has held over the past few years include being the head counselor at Camp Malchus, a division head at Camp Kaylie, a volunteer for Chai Lifeline, the program director of Stone Beit Midrash Program (SBMP) at Yeshiva University, and a bekius rebbe at MTA. Many, if not most, of his accomplishments have found a way into the pages of this paper, and Avi has sent many, many pics for us to publish over the years.

It’s kind of hard to believe how many good projects and roles Avi has either helped create for himself, been hired to do, etc., and a common theme in all of his roles is that they have all benefited our community and our youth in some
significant and meaningful way. Avi is a true chesed and educational leader and entrepreneur at the highest level and he is only getting started. At the same time, he has a wonderful sense of humor and ability to connect with kids and adults alike. All of us who are in Avi’s/Rabbi Rosalimsky’s orbit are a bit in awe of how much he is involved with and has to stay on top of … and we were all so happy to be there for his marriage to Atara Aharon from L.A. this past Monday night. It was truly a beautiful simcha!

Mazal tov again to Eli and Rachee Sklar and Rabbi Avi and Atara Rosalimsky and to your special families!

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