By: Daniel T. Allen
Photographs by Alex Gorokhov – G&A Photography
www.glattphotography.com – (347) 680 2995
In more ways than one, the gala event that took place last Thursday, Feb. 7, was a long time coming. It was the first such fundraiser hosted by the Chabad of Sheepshead Bay in over 20 years of service to south Brooklyn. Additionally, the event was originally scheduled for November — until Superstorm Sandy changed everything.
Sandy’s storm surge inundated the Chabad’s basement shul with over five feet of water. Thankfully, Rabbi Shlomo Cohen rescued the sifrei torah during the storm, but hundreds of seforim were irreparably damaged and all told the synagogue sustained over $50,000 in structural damages.
In the months after the storm, the community banded together to rebuild and last Thursday’s gala was a testament to the resilience of the Sheepshead Bay community. During his opening remarks, Rabbi Cohen announced that not only was Chabad of Sheepshead Bay undeterred by Sandy, but that part of the funds raised at the gala would go towards a building fund to erect a brand new facility in the neighborhood.
The Jewish community in Sheepshead Bay is comprised of those with origins in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, native Brooklynites and Israelis. Over 200 community members and distinguished guests gathered at the luxurious Orion Palace in Gravesend, Brooklyn for the event.
Guests spoke about their appreciation of the work that Rabbi Shlomo and Tzippy Cohen do in the community and the heimeshe environment of their Chabad. A special video presentation included interviews with those whose lives have transformed since they first encountered Chabad through Torah classes, prayer services, or have hosted a simcha in the shul.
The gala also honored several community members for their special contributions. Alex Lotovsky, an architect with offices in the neighborhood, was recognized with the Youth Leadership Award. Mr. Lotovsky will help to design the future facilities for Chabad of Sheepshead Bay.
Dr. Iosef Uvaydov, a local physician, was honored with the Maimonides Physician Award. Entrepreneur David Isaev was honored with the Community Service Award. Longtime community members and supporters of the Chabad House Mr. and Mrs. Raphy Czeisler were presented with the Family Heritage Award.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by M-Generation, a boys choir that sings in Russian, Yiddish, English and Hebrew and is associated with the F.R.E.E. synagogue of Brighton Beach.