On Sunday, November 5, 2017, friends of Chabad of Orange County, New York, led by Shluchim Pesach and Chana Burston, filled the Rushmore Estate Ballroom in Highland Mills for an Evening of Laughter & L’Chaim, celebrating Chabad’s Bar Mitzvah Anniversary. This exciting and fun evening marked this milestone of 13 years of Chabad’s service to the community, which began in June of 2004.
The festive event featured hors d’oeuvres, fine kosher wine & cheese and delectable desserts, music with local musician David Dixler and Brian Murphy as well as comedy by stand-up comic & ventriloquist John Pizzi.
After reading the letter the Rebbe sent him to his own Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Pesach spoke about the significance of the community collective ‘Bar Mitzvah:’ “The Torah portion read this past Shabbat speaks of the first Bar Mitzvah, Yitzchak’s, as the day Yizchok was ‘weaned.’ In a community this means, that the growth of an organization is such where the community members become partners in leading and shouldering the responsibilities, and not just relying on the ‘parents’ of the organization.”
On that note, Chabad thanked the community at large and certain individuals in particular for their leadership and contributions to the community.
The honorees were:
- Dr. Ira & Karen Kanis, Chabad Cares Tikkun Olam Award
- Mr. James Rogers, Community Service Award
- Mr. Philip & Dr. Jen Reich, Lamplighter Award
- Shaina Steir, Teen Chesed Award
Ira Kanis has become the personal “Gabbai” of Rabbi Pesach, assisting him in many of his responsibilities. Ira has also stared Chabad’s “Chabad Cares” program, which offers assistance to community members in time of need, including bikur cholim, meals, shiva minyanim, doctor rides and the like. Jim Rogers has become an active member in the community since meeting Chabad at the grand opening of their current center in Chester, back in 2011. Jim has initiated, sponsors and also became the official chef of “Friday Light Live,” Chabad’s monthly Shabbat dinners. The Reich family is very active in Chabad’s Youth Programs, including C-Teen, and admitted that it was their children who helped them find Chabad as their “home.” Shaina Stier is a teen who has started with Chabad back in 2004, and is now a volunteer at Hebrew School and is a leader of Chabad’s C-Teen Chapter. Shaina confessed that she was reluctant to join C-Teen in the beginning, but “The Shabbaton in New York City changed my life,” and talked about how fellow teens realize that it’s “cool” to be involved.
Rabbi Yisroel Rubin, the Merkos Regional Director of Eastern New York Chabad Centers, arranged a “Proclamation,” via the State Senate, marking Chabad’s Bar Mitzvah Anniversary Celebration.
Photos by Alex Kaller of Alken Studios