I want to share with all of you a very special event I recently took part in that I know you will appreciate. I had received a call from Uri Cohen, the Executive Director of Queens College Hillel, asking me if I would be part of a celebratory/fundraising event that they would be holding in Manhattan. In fact, Uri is no stranger to HHJC. His father, Rabbi Cohen, comes to daven at our shul from time to time and Uri himself occasionally joins us for services, together with his wife and child. He explained to me that this event would be taking place at the apartment of a very active member of QC Hillel, who was a previous President of this wonderful organization. Uri asked me to perform a mini concert and of course I agreed. After all, not only was this a Jewish community event but it is in support of one of the greatest Jewish organizations in Queens (Queens College Hillel) that “seeks to create meaningful Jewish experiences that encourage Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel.” Hillel is performing a great mitzvah… providing Jewish students the opportunity to experience Jewish culture, tradition, Shabbatot, and all sorts of wonderful programs. When I logged on to the QC Hillel website I was so proud and impressed. I came to realize that Queens College has the 9th largest population of Jewish students of any campus in the country. There are approximately 4,000 Jewish students out of a total of 16,000 undergraduates.
As I arrived at the building on Park Avenue, with my musicians and their instruments, I wondered how I would be able to pull this off. How can I do a ‘Sol Zim Concert’ in such small quarters? I envisioned the neighbors downstairs banging at the door complaining about their ceilings shaking and the windows shattering. Well, there were no complaining neighbors. In fact, I think some of the neighbors joined the party. The apartment was spacious and the acoustics were fantastic. There were at least 80 guests and we had the time of our lives. There were young and old, of all different Jewish backgrounds and nationalities (Orthodox, Conservative & Reform, Ashkenazi & Sephardic, American Jews, European, Israeli, Russian, Middle Eastern, etc.). Many of those who attended this event are originally from Queens and although they now live in Manhattan, they are Queens Natives at heart and are some of the world’s leading & strongest supporters of Jewish Organizations, Culture & Education. Everyone was filled with emotion. We sang Hebrew songs, Yiddish songs, Cantorial, Ladino, Broadway, Opera and more. The biggest request of the evening was for all to share in singing my Avinu Shebashamayim. It was a truly beautiful evening, everyone joined together in spirit and song, to support Queens College Hillel, an organization that dedicates its’ efforts to making sure that Jewish College students are offered Jewish culture & tradition, whether they are far from home living in dormitories or if they live around the corner. Queens College Hillel aims to be a Jewish resource to all Jewish students. I hear their Shabbat dinners are pretty good too.
I am so proud to be part of the Queens Jewish Community. We are a very united, devoted, welcoming & loving community and HHJC is one of the top leading forces pioneering and guiding the way to ensure that Jewish tradition & culture survives.
I hope you all enjoyed your Passover Seders with family & friends. Can’t wait to see you all at our HHJC SIMCHA 2016 on Sunday, May 22nd when we will be honoring some very special individuals. Couple of The Year–MARIS & STEWART BLECHNER…Keter Torah Award–JACK COHEN… and the Frank Strassfeld Heritage Award–JOSHUA LIEDERMAN, Chaired by MICHAEL WOLKOFSKY. Don’t miss this exciting evening…with Delicious Food, Great Band, Music & Dancing. Reserve your seats now!
See you in shul.
Cantor Sol Zim