CELEBRATING YOM YERUSHALAYIM WITH JERUSALEM CHAI
BY: FERN SIDMAN
On Monday evening May 21st, over 600 people gathered at Terrace On the Park in Queens to celebrate "Yom Yerushalayim" (Jerusalem Day) in grand style at the 33rd anniversary dinner of Americans Friends of Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai. Each year, Ateret Cohanim honors those outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to supporting the re-establishment of thriving Jewish communities in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.
Founded by Matityahu HaCohen Dan, a young, idealistic veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, ths mission of Ateret Cohanim remains the fulfillment of the age-old dream of rebuilding and securing Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel and the strengthening of timeless Jewish roots there. Having successfully rekindled the flame of Jewish life in the heart and soul of Jerusalem, Ateret Cohanim has restored to the Old City and its outlying areas a number of renowned yeshivot, which in turn has ensured a vibrant future for generations of Jews to come.
A palpable electricity filled the room as this year's honorees who represented some of the best known activists for a united Jerusalem were assembled on the dais. Serving as the dinner's most capable Master of Ceremonies was Chaim Leibtag who introduced each awardee. The recipients of the prestigious Bonei Yerushalayim Award were Shoshana Hikind, Executive Vice President of Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai and Dr. Morris and Rickie Platt.
"I am most grateful to Hashem for the opportunity I have had for so many years to stand by our courageous brethren striving to keep all of Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. It is my fervent hope to be able to continue to reach many more American Jews with the message that we must 'step up to the plate' if Yerushalayim is to remain our eternal and undivided capital," declared Mrs. Hikind.
As pillars of the community and true 'Baalei Chesed' (masters of kindness), Dr. Morris and Rickie Platt have been exceptionally generous supporters of Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai, Chabad centers around the globe, and have made significant personal contributions to such organizations as the Bet El Yeshiva Fund, the Hebron Fund, and the Yesha Fund.
This year's Oheiv Yisroel awardees included Helen Freedman, the Executive Director of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), and Shlomo and Aviva Mostofsky. Speaking of her decades long committment to Jewish activism and the rights of Jews to live in all of the land of Israel, Ms. Freedman said, "The one activity that gives me the greatest pleasure is the planning and leading of the AFSI semi-annual Chizuk (strength) tour of Israel. Our participants travel through the length and breadth of Israel and provide succor to those intrepid Jews who live in communities in Judea and Samaria."
Named after the legendary Revisionist Zionist leader, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Shlomo Z. Mostofsky is a practicing family law attorney in Brooklyn and his wife Aviva is a reading specialist at the New York City Department of Education. The Mostofskys count Ateret Cohanim as one of their favorite organizations.
A new and highly enthusiastic generation of Jewish leaders were presented to the ebullient audience, as Michelle Laufer and Rachel Zehava Ruchlamer were accorded with the Young Leadership Professionals award. Hailing from a family with a strong committment and love for Jerusalem and the state of Israel, Michelle Laufer has been in the forefront of planning numerous organizational events for Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai. As a natural born leader, Michelle is also a certified public account for Price Waterhouse, LLP.
"It's such an honor to receive this award - I absolutely love being involved with helping the precious Ateret Cohanim children in the Old City and can't wait to do another young leadership event to raise money for their activities, like the summer day camp", said Ms. Laufer.
"Together, we can put more smiles on the faces of the beautiful children living in the Old City," proclaimed Rachel Zehava Ruchlamer, a 30-year old full time teacher from Teaneck, New Jersey as she received her Young Leadership Professionals award. "I congratulate Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai on 33 years of keeping Jerusalem united and making it a better and safer place for today and tomorrow," she said.
In addition to redeeming land in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, Ateret Cohanim works with private investors who purchase previously owned Jewish buildings or by long term tenancy rights. Establishing educational centers, providing assistance in the renovation of old buildings, installing and maintaining security systems and initiating a variety of other Jewish educational projects are also a major part of the work that Ateret Cohanim does on a daily basis in an effort to revitalize this most important area.
Everyone going to Israel is urged to go on Ateret Cohanim's fascinating tours in the Old City and the new neighborhoods outside the OId City walls. Please visit www.jerusalemchai.org
or call Shani Hikind at the office at: 212-216-9270.