Jan 25, 2013
Honor Reveals Chabad Connection

While preparing for Chabad of Riverdale's annual dinner, Shluchim Levi and Sorah Shemtov discovered that one of their honorees had a special connection to the Frierdiker Rebbe.

By Chabad of Riverdale

When Jacob and Sharona Schulder were chosen to be this year's honorees for our 21st Annual Celebration, we had no inkling that Jacob's great-grandfather, Yaakov Kestenbaum, was chairman at the Frierdike Rebbe's (Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe) dinner.

A week before our annual dinner, Jacob and Sharona, our honorees, sat around our Shabbos table. Jacob recalled a vivid childhood memory of receiving a dollar when he was seven years old from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

In his words, "I didn't even know an aleph from a beis; the one thing I will remember for the rest of my life is the Rebbe shaking my hand, giving me a dollar bill, and looking at me with his powerful eyes. That warmth and that love for yiddishkeit clearly filtered down, and are not taken for granted as my kids come to the Chabad Early Learning Center every day."

As Jacob was describing his powerful encounter with the Rebbe, he shared that his great-grandfather had been in regular correspondence with the Frierdike Rebbe. Upon hearing this, I rose from the table, amazed, and walked over to my bookshelf. I pulled out volumes containing letters that the Frieerdike Rebbe had composed to thousands of people.

After perusing the Index, I came across five letters that quickly revealed the special relationship between the Frieerdike Rebbe and Yaakov Kestenbaum, Jacob's great-grandfather. In one particular letter, the one that appears below this article, the Frierdike Rebbe requests that Yaakov be the chairman for the Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim dinner.

The Rebbe begins his letter by asking Yaakov to accept the honor of being chairman for the Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim dinner, which is under his leadership. He goes on to express his hope that Yaakov will not refuse him, because it is a great honor ; the Yeshiva is described as being a "source of blessing." The Rebbe ends the letter by expressing his heartfelt wish that Yaakov will fulfill his request, and offers brachos /blessings that all those who support the Yeshiva should be blessed by Hashem both physically and spiritually.

Jacob's great-grandfather was indeed the chairman at the dinner (photo below), and years later, at our own annual dinner, I read out the Rebbe's letter in front of the Schulders and a stunned room. The profound connection between the honorees and Chabad had already been cemented decades earlier.


A spectacular energy and warm camaraderie infused our annual dinner this year. Over 300 friends and supporters, an unprecedented number, joined us to celebrate as Chabad of Riverdale, NY enters its third decade.

Brenda and Steven Arenson, the Guests of Honor, were recognized for their commitment and devotion to Chabad, and their ongoing support and sacrifice for the greater Jewish community. During the dinner, Steven gave a heartfelt speech describing how Chabad of Riverdale's leaders, Rabbi Levi and Sorah Shemtov, were there for his family during both times of happiness and sorrow.

"Rabbi Levi and Sorah Shemtov and Chabad of Riverdale exemplify the concept of being 'lovers of Israel,' lovers of the Jewish people. Without Chabad, hundreds of people would not be involved and connected in Judaism."

Sharona and Jacob Schulder, mentioned at the beginning, were honored as Parents of the Year. Rebbetzin Sorah Shemtov, in her speech expressing appreciation to the Parents of the Year, described how Sharona and Jacob Schulder are role models to their children in every sense.

"Children are very astute and they notice everything. Our children are watching when we least imagine, and way before they can read, they read between the lines and they 'read' us! When it says, 'Your children will become what you are, so be what you want them to be,' I think of both of you, Sharona and Jacob, and say, I hope your children will be exactly what you are!"

In Rabbi Levi Shemtov's speech, he touched upon the theme of the dinner, "One People – One Heart." "'We are one' is not a slogan; it represents our way of life. Sorah and I thank each and every one of you for supporting the work of Chabad. It is only because of you that we are here and only because of your support that we can continue."

The evening included a video that recapped the history and activities of Chabad of Riverdale for the past 21 years, and featured live musical entertainment by the Pey Dalid band.

The excitement and joy felt in the room erupted into lively dancing. The special warmth and love that are the trademark of Chabad of Riverdale made the evening one that we are certain never to forget.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Gorgeous pics!
Luv the 1 with Rabbi Yossi Deren & Mushkie!!!
(1/25/2013 12:40:43 PM)
Interested in picture of Frierdikeh Rebbe's connection
These are all beautiful, obviously current pictures. They depict an admirable amount of activity by the Riverdale shluchim; yiyasher kochachem! Can't seem to isolate the picture of the Tomchei Tmimim dinner from yesteryear. am I not looking carefully enough?
(1/25/2013 12:57:39 PM)
That is an awesome story! Hashgocha pratis at its fullest!
(1/25/2013 1:34:42 PM)
me too
agree with #1 that picture is powerful!
(1/25/2013 1:37:15 PM)
(1/25/2013 2:06:01 PM)
yisroel and mindy
may you be blessed with arichas yomim veshonim toivois begashmius uveruchnius. and naches from all your children, levi and sore so proud, beautiful pictures always hatzlocho,
from your fans in canada
(1/25/2013 3:47:34 PM)
The Shemtovs are shluchim in so many ways, some they don't even realize! What hashgacha protis that that family was chosen to be honored.

Yasher koach to the Shemtovs for all their hard work and dedication and may they be zoche to have such an influence on many many more people and bring moshiach now!
(1/26/2013 7:47:50 PM)
Mrs. Robert Abrams Maiden Name is Schulder
That Could be on eof the Reosons The Rebbe Gave her (r & Husband & Children) Much Kiruv; to the poinr that The Rebbe Told Her to write a Book On her Family
(1/26/2013 7:59:46 PM)
Great Shot...of
Yoel Kranz and Rabbi Shemtov
(1/26/2013 8:52:24 PM)
Go Sharona!
From Esti B. from BM school :)
(1/26/2013 10:38:43 PM)
London cousins
We are proud of you.well done
(1/27/2013 6:19:11 PM)
lovely video!
Such a well done video- it is especially heartwarming because it truly speaks of the wonderful things the Shemtovs do, and of course there are thousands of other things they do as well which I'm sure don't always get mention, but believe me, people notice their ahavas yisroel and true dedication they show for the entire community, their extended community and of course their sweet family.

Yasher Koach on 21 amazing years!
(1/31/2013 11:29:29 PM)
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