Close to 800 people, friends, supporters, admirers and well-wishers joined the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE) 70th Awards Dinner at the elegant ballroom of Pier 60, in Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.
The air was filled with excitement and electricity as the guests filled the reception room where the Sefer Torah that was started two years ago, on the 18th Anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, was being completed.
Rabbi Moshe Klein, the noted Sofer, was inscribing the letters in the Sefer Torah at the request of the invited guests who were thrilled to be able to participate in the special Mitzva of writing a Sefer Torah. Everyone at the packed reception was offered the opportunity to inscribe a letter in the final column of the Memorial Sefer Torah.
As the last few letters were inscribed by the Honorees of the Dinner, and then finally by the children of Rabbi Hecht, the blessing of Shehechiyanu was recited, the Torah was lifted up for the Hagbo Ceremony by Honorary President Dr. Steven Rubel, and then was rolled closed in the Gelila procedure by Honorary President Mr. Milton Kramer.
The festivities then began with the singing and dancing in front of the Sefer Torah, which was carried under the spread out Chuppa.
The first person honored with carrying the Sefer Torah was Mr. Charles Kupferman, whose family was honored as Guests of Honor at the Dinner.
Mr. Sam Domb, who had gracefully dedicated the Sara Domb Memorial Education Award for the student recipients this year, then took the Torah from Charlie Kupferman, who was followed by the Katz brothers and Rabbi Binyomin Klein, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s secretary.
Others shared in carrying the Torah from the reception area through the ornate hallways of the hall and finally the Torah was placed on a place of honor on a specially prepared table in the ballroom where people immediately went over to kiss the Torah and, also, some took pictures standing next to the Torah scroll.
The actual final word of the Torah, the word “Yisrael” had been inscribed by Mr. Ira Rennert and his son, Ari, at a previous ceremony which was held in his offices several days before the Dinner. Mr. Rennert had taken an active role in supporting the writing of the Torah and the Torah will be read on the first week of Camp Emunah for the summer of 2011 in the Auditorium and Synagogue, which is named in memory of Mr. Rennert’s mother, “Bais Knesses Ohel Sara.”
Ira Rennert, is the sponsor of the Jonas and Sadie Rennert Ivy League Torah Study Experience (ILTSE) and his support through the years, has enabled the NCFJE to carry on many of its very important educational programs.
The Kupfermans, who have been involved very strongly in the support of the Chai Tots Pre-Schools in the Brownstone Brooklyn Area, were later honored at the Dinner. Three generations of the Kupferman family were later joined together at the Dais to be honored as Guests of Honor and they were presented with an exquisite original art by the famous artist, Michoel Muchnik, representing Menorahs and Dreidels each with subtle esoteric and artistically exquisite artifacts in art presentations.
The reception was so popular among the people that it took a long time for the caterers to entice the hundreds of guests to be seated at their designated tables in the Grand Ballroom and finally the program began with the musical renditions by Carey White & the children of the JCC Thurnaueer School of Music, Tenafly, NJ and then with the announcements with the honored presences of the Elected Officials who graced the Dais that evening.
Rabbi Faivel Rimler, the evening’s Guest of Honor, was honored for over 50 years of service to the work of NCFJE, and many years of working side-by-side with the late Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht. In his eloquent and touching acceptance, Rabbi Rimler expressed words of thanks to the Al-mighty for the miraculous recovery of his wife, Rebbetzin Tzipporah Rimler, after a serious illness.
He also spoke of the years that he worked together with Rabbi Hecht and the great influence that Rabbi Hecht had on his life and all of the effort, time and sacrifice which had been expended for the work of the NCFJE. Rabbi Rimler was presented with a beautiful original art from the artist Michoel Muchnik, by Rabbi Shloma L. Abramowitz and Rebbezin Chave Hecht.
The Sara Domb Jewish Education Award this year was presented to four outstanding students from four different areas of Jewish education in New York City. These children were interviewed together with their families and a very touching video was shown which told the story of the lives of these kids and the future which is in store for them. This was followed by the presentation of the special plaque by Michelle and Sara. Mr. Sam Domb also then presented each one with a scholarship check, which would go towards their future education.
Rabbi Shea Hecht then made the presentation to the Guest of Honor, Mr. Curtis Katz, and the beautiful original art piece representing the breastplate of the Kohen Gadol was presented to his grandchildren who very gracefully came up to the Dais to receive it for their grandfather. Rabbi Shea, continued to extol the great virtues of the Katz family and all of the wonderful things and the charity that they had provided to support the work of the NCFJE in education, social services and other areas of need for the Jewish community.
Rabbi Sholem B. Hecht then made the presentation of the Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht Memorial Award to Rabbi Klein, speaking of the presence of the spirit of Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht at the Dinner and his observance of the work of the NCFJE and his close friendship with Rabbi Klein who served as the window between Rabbi Hecht and the Rebbe whose letters, reports and requests for prayer were back and forth between him and the Rebbe on a daily basis throughout their half-a-century of work together. Rebbetzin Laya Klein was also presented with a bouquet of flowers by Rebbetzin Channah Hecht.
The video of the work of the NCFJE was a compilation history of 70 years of the decade-by-decade of the programs, activities and great things that the NCFJE has accomplished over the years from the Colony of Hope of Israel to Released Time Program in Greater New York, to the Day Camp in Queens, Poor and Sick Fund, Food Distribution and so on.
The final honor was held for the Guests of Honor, the Kupferman family headed by Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Ruth Kupferman, their sons Neil and Scott, and daughters Sandra and Susan and the grandchildren who all graced the dais and came up to receive the most beautiful plaques that were created by the artist, Michoel Muchnik, and presented by Rabbi Shimon Hecht, who stunned the audience with his announcement that the Kupferman family were making a pledge of $700,000 to the NCFJE in honor of the 70th year and in honor of the future work of the NCFJE, both in the general programs, the Mikvah that is being built in Park Slope, as well as the Chai Tots Pre-Schools. Mr. and Mrs. Kupferman both spoke for a few moments thanking the organization and speaking of their love for the memory of Rabbi Hecht and for the future work of the organization.
The caterer had done an exquisite job both in the smorgasbord, as well as in the main meal, and this was all capped by an elaborate Viennese table at the end of the Dinner. It was clear that the hundreds of people who had gathered together to give honor to the work of the NCFJE, were all so very receptive to the commitment that was being made on that night to continue, expand and make the work grow and reach out to more and more students, more and more needy people, and more and more projects of kindness, goodness and education to serve the Jewish community in the New York Metropolitan Area across America and around the world.