Community Chest


Magen David Yeshivah Senior Entrepreneurial Program

Magen David Yeshivah High School is proud to announce its exciting new program for seniors, Virtual Enterprise International (VEI). Students are invited to envision, form and execute their own start-up business, which they will then present at a national entrepreneurial competition. Magen David students have taken to this venture with tremendous spirit, transforming one of the classrooms into a suite of business offices from which their own virtual company is being launched. Called 1,2,3-D Printing, their company seeks to produce anactual product on one of the school’s two 3D printers and then market it to the public with a professional business plan.

The students, led by Dr. Sterling Jasper and their company CEOs, Jack Beyda and Judy Chalouh, have been completely engaged in this combination of teamwork and futuristic thought. Split up into finance, accounting, design, production, marketing and human resources departments, these seniors “go to work” for nearly three hours each school day, dressed in formal business attire. The team has been brainstorming a public relations campaign, devising investment strategies, dreaming up virtual loan acquisitions, researching the innovation of 3D printing, and interviewing top businessmen in our community. Throughout itall, they have met the highest level of professionalism which has been clearly on display in their day-to-day operations. Staff members are frequently treated to executive summaries by their CEOs and conduct conference meetings to resolve problems that arise. Each “employee” has received a cubicle, a laptop and an array of office supplies with which to make his contribution to
the company.

The class has been working tirelessly, both on and off school premises. Accompanied by school faculty members, they recently ventured as a “staff” to the Maker Faire at the New York Science Center, where they learned more about 3D printing from technological and engineering experts. Just several weeks ago, in their most accomplished achievement to date, they formally submitted their company’s business registration forms to VEI officials, making 1,2,3-D Printing a viable candidate in its international competition. The entire team will travel to San Francisco to participate in the affair
this spring.

Magen David YeshivahHigh School principal, Rabbi Saul Zucker, gallantly calls these students “captains of industry” and anticipates a bright future for these sharp and savvy young minds. We wish them the best of luck as they strive to bring their business to fruition and draw international attention to their ambitious undertaking.

Pizmonimania at Yeshivat
Or Hatorah Elementary School

Every Friday,Yeshivat Or Hatorah students from Pre-1A
through third grade gather to learn the rich songs and Pizmonim that comprise a vital part of our Sephardic heritage. Led by third grade Rebbe Rabbi Moshe Houllou, the boys learn a vast array of liturgical songs which were sung by our ancestors for centuries. Rabbi Houllou focuses on a unit of songs from one Maqam, introducing the students to the study of Hazzanut. It is amazing to see how excited the boys are as they sing these precious melodies, and how our ancient musical tradition is being preserved among the Sephardic youth of today.

Councilman David Greenfield
Hosts Sukkah Gathering

Councilman David Greenfield hosted the Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, at a sukkah gathering at the home of Mendy Reiner, Chairman of the Renewal organization, on Sunday, October 12. Over 50 Jewish leaders were in attendance, including the heads of many community non-profit organizations, Jewish leaders and elected officials from across the city. The sukkah gathering in honor of the Speaker was a wonderful introduction to the important Jewish holiday of Sukkot and gave the speaker a unique opportunity to get to know the Jewish community on a close, personal level.

Upon the Speaker’s arrival, Councilman Greenfield introduced her to the community leaders in attendance, highlighting the important and diverse work they do in the communities of Borough Park and Midwood. Among the organizations represented were the Boro Park, Flatbush and Bensonhurst Jewish Community Councils, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Mekimi, Reach for the Stars Learning Center, and Guardians of the Sick. The festivities were joined by a half-dozen other Councilmembers, as well. Several national Jewish leaders were also in attendance, including Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents; Rabbi David Zweibel, Executive Vice President of AgudathIsrael of America; Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, Publisher of Hamodia; and Jeff Leb, Political Director of the Orthodox Union.

Councilman Greenfield spoke of the Speaker’s close relationship with the Jewish community, including her unwavering support for the restoration of $10 million in funding for after school Priority 5 vouchers, the City Council’s newly-expanded Autism Initiative, and her strong condemnation of the nearly 40 percent increase in anti-Semitic crimes in New York City. Greenfield also spoke ofthe Speaker’s multiple visits to the community, including a meeting with community leaders in April and several visits with Masbia and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty to prepare and distribute food for the needy before Pesach and Rosh Hashanah.The Speaker thanked those in attendance for their support and friendship, and reiterated her advocacy for the neediest in New York City.

Councilman Greenfield hosted the Speaker in Borough Park earlier this year at a pre-Passover gathering with Yeshiva administrators to discuss pressing issues of concern to Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.  The Speaker heard directly from school leaders to learn about the neighborhood’s need for UPK seats and increased funding to priority 5 and 7 vouchers. She immediately went to work on all of those important community objectives.

Peninim Sephardic Seminary
Starts Off With a Blast

The brand new Peninim Sephardic Seminary (PSS) opened its doors this month with classes delivered by an all-star staff which includesRabbi Eliezer Zeytouneh, Rabbi Raymond Beyda, Rabbi Moshe Lagnado, Mrs. Sara Zafrani, Mrs. Sara Haddad, Mrs. Barbara Ozeri, Mrs. Aliza Beyda and Mrs. Alese Busany. Peninim’s students were dazzled and inspired during their first month of learning, and werealso treated to a wonderful guest lecture given by Mrs. Bonnie Mansour. All this while earning college credits through PSS’ college program!

Under the direction of Rabbi Zeytouneh and Mrs. Sara Zafrani, PSS is helping develop some of our community’s finest young ladies into knowledgeable and capable women.

Peninim Sephardic Seminary will hold its Open House on Wednesday, November 12th, 8:00 PM at 1305 Gravesend Neck Rd. For more information please send email or call 917-613-0096.

Kaplun Essay Contest 2015

The Kaplun Essay Contest offers students in grades 7 through 12 a chance to display their writing talent and win cash prizes. In each of the two levels – grades 7-9 and grades 10-12 – first prize winners receive $1,800, and the five finalists are awarded $750 each. Entrance prizes of $18 will be awarded to the first 50 essays received in each level.

Level 1 participants are to write about how Jewish values can help the writer make the world a better place. Level 2 students are asked to address what Jews of all degree of religious observance have in common that binds us together.

Entries must be received by March 6, 2015 and mailed to The Morris J. and Betty Kaplun Foundation Inc. Essay Contest Committee PO Box 234428 Great Neck, NY 11023. International entries may be emailed to

The Safe Foundation Presents Guide
to Building Coping Skills

Even children who grow up in stable homes with many advantages may still end up making poor choices that lead to problems with drugs, alcohol or other high-risk behaviors, while even children from dysfunctional families can grow to become successful and productive members of society. In trying to explain why some fall and others navigate safely and successfully through the maze of youth, many experts
point specifically to the quality of resilience, the ability to overcome adversity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the key elements a child needs to deal with life’s challenges as the 7 C’s of Resilience. They are: competence, confidence, connection, character, control, coping and contribution.

Experts agree that one of the most important Cs is that of having good coping skills. Ideally, building this skill should be done when kids are young, but it is never too late.

Alissa Sklar, PH.D observed that her students with poor coping skills miss deadlines and class, blame others, and fall apart once the going gets tough. She notes that often these are students who, when growing up, had someone micromanaging their lives, hovering over them to pick up the pieces when things went awry.

There are numerous different kinds of coping strategies that people employ during times of hardship:

Avoidant Coping is when one turns to drugs or alcohol, or other dangerous activities, to temporarily escape challenges.

Passive Coping is distracting oneself. While distractions are effective in offering temporary relaxation, they will not necessarily help one work through the challenge that awaits him once he closes the TV, computer, or book.

Active Coping Skills: Activities such as playing an instrument and sports are healthy coping strategies, as they allow one to release pent-up energy and frustration.

Active Problem-Solving Coping Skills: Talking with a friend, family member, or therapist, and/or writing in a journal, can help one think more clearly and are the most reliable for fixable problems, as they help us actively process stressors.

Teach children healthy coping strategies by:

•    Listening with empathy and without interruptions
and judgments

•    Talking through problems

•    Preparing them for challenges they may face by posing
hypothetical questions, such as: What would   you do if
your friends were all pressuring you to do drugs?

•    Guiding them to discover outlets for frustration

•    Modeling active coping strategies

Note: It is important to remember that children often learn more by recovering from their social mistakes and by analyzing what they did wrong than by making the right decision the first time.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the
SAFE Foundation’s confidential, toll-free hotline, 24/7
at 1-866-569-SAFE (7233).

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Magen David Yeshivah High School
Preparing for its Annual Open House

Magen David Yeshivah High School will be hosting its annual Open House on Tuesday evening, November 11, at 7:30pm.  The event will focus on MDYHS’s exciting programs, including the Majors Program, the latest in its award-winning cutting-edge
educational technology, the Scholars Program, skills-based education, college and career guidance, student E-Portfolios, the yeshiva’s warm environment that nurtures the neshamahof each student, and so much more.  Participants will have the opportunity to meet with administration, faculty, and students. Anyone interested in securing the key to a successful future is invited to join Magen David at what promises to be a stimulating, memorable and informative evening.  Invitations and further information will forthcoming. In the meantime, please mark your calendars.   For more information, send an email to

NYPD Steps Up Security
in Advance of Jewish Holidays 

The NYPD briefed Jewish leaders on stepped-up security during the fall holidays, reported NY 1.

In the annual meeting at One Police Plaza, Commissioner William Bratton spoke generally about the threat of terrorism in New York, and reported on the recent increase of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city. He announced that the department would be deploying extra officers in Jewish communities celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to provide extra security and vigilance during the holidays.

David Heskiel, NYPD Clergy Liaison and Sephardic Community Liaison to Councilman Chaim Deutch’s office, was in attendance representing the Sephardic Community.

“This meeting is designed to ensure and to guarantee the religious freedom of New York Jewry,” said NYPD Chief Chaplain Rabbi Alvin Kass. “It represents the commitment of this department to make sure that all of us can go to our synagogues and pray on these high holy days without interference.”

At the meeting, officials reassured the attendees that there are no known credible threats to NewYork. However, they emphasized that in this age of attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings, citizens must be constantly vigilant in noting any unfamiliar or suspicious persons or vehicles at or near our shuls or schools. They urged citizens to be alert,and called upon security personnel to call the police right away if they observe anything suspicious. Strangers in Sephardic synagogues might not be as readily discernible as they would in Ashkenazi synagogues, so worshippers are asked to be on alert for suspicious people or conduct.

The officials also urged anyone who has a responsibility for a shul or school to get to know the Captain of the precinct, so that he can be contacted directly when security concerns arise.

Officials say that the recent rise in hate crimes is likely connected to the extensive news coverage of this past summer’s Israel-Gaza conflict. The hate crime incidents did not have any organization behind them, nor was any particular organization targeted. They seem to all have been rash,spur-of-the moment incidents.

SAFE Foundation Holds
Its 12th Annual Dinner 

The SAFE Foundation held its 12thAnnual Fundraising Gala Dinner was held at the beach-front home of gracious hosts, Ester and Joey Jerome
on August 26th.

The first award presented was The Sonny I. Gindi Merit Award for Outstanding Dedication to Helping Those in Need, an award that has been granted to worthy recipients each year since the passing of SAFE’s good friend Sonny I. Gindi, a”h. This year, this esteemed honor went toTrina and Joe Cayre in recognition of their tremendous and constant support. Presenter of the award, Nancy Tebele, said, “The Cayre family is always there to step up to the plate for our community, not just for financial assistance, but for leadership, ideas and endorsement, as well; they always go the extra mile.”

The next award, the Employee Appreciation Award, was given to the Director of the Project SAFE School Program, Shira Berkowitz, for her hard work and devotion. Shira was one of the pioneers of the program in 2003 and has since served as a beloved teacher. Shira shared how those at SAFE stood by her when she lost her first husband to cancer, and how her work at SAFE has been so much more than a job to her. The most gratifying feeling, she said, is when students tell her of the good decisions they’ve made because of what they learned in class.

The memorable evening concluded with an address by Todd Whitmer the NY Regional President of Caron Treatment Centers, one of the oldest and largest drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers in the United States. Todd said that professionals in the field of addiction consider SAFE to be like a Swiss Army knife –
a multi-purpose, one-stop shop for everything to do with addiction and its prevention. He explained how SAFE trained staff at Caron to be sensitive to the needs of Jewish Orthodox clients, from understanding kashrut to the laws of Shabbat.

The SAFE Foundation is grateful to the hosts, Ester and Joey Jerome, to Bank Hapoalim for sponsoring the evening, and to all of the donors who allow SAFE to help those in our community in need.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our 24/7,
toll-free confidential hotline: 1-866-569-7233. Have a question? Email:

How Your Vote in the WZO Elections
Could Be Worth Millions

Pnina Souid

Maran Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, left a legacy of Torah that has inspired and continued to inspire Jews of all ages, backgrounds and levels of observance. As part of this effort, he guided the Shas political party which seeks to promote the interests of Israel’s religious Sephardic community.

Four years ago, Maran took another courageous step, authorizing Shas to enter the World Zionist Organization (WZO), an umbrella organization which is comprised of numerous institutions which serve Israel and world Jewry, such as the Jewish Agency, UJA, JNF, and others.

The allocation of funds for these organizations is dictated by an elected body. Hence, as Orthodox Jewish organizations were generally not represented in the WZO, they received none of its funding. Maran authorized Shas to join the WZO so that the millions of traditional Jews who were not benefiting from these organizations would be counted.

Mr. Yigal Bibi, former Mayor of Tiberias and Knesset Member (National Religious Party), and current Chairman of the Sion Council in Israel and of the Shas Faction (Ohavei Tsion) in the WZO, has traveled coast to coast visiting various Sephardic communities in the US to introduce to America’s Sephardic Community the urgency of the matter, and to solicit candidates and volunteers for the upcoming 2015 elections.

As Mayor of Tiberias, Bibi came into contact with many different factions, and received blessings from Hacham Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, and Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l. MK Eli Yishai, former Chairman of Shas, appointed him to lead the Shas party faction in the WZO. MK Rav Nissim Zeev, who established Shas International, assisted Yigal Bibi by providing contacts throughout the various Sephardic communities of the United States, which he has since visited, urging community members to participate in the online elections, which will be held from January through April 2015. Next month’s issue of COMMUNITY Magazine will provide more details and step-by-step instructions for voting.

Through this simple measure, which will take just a few minutes of our time, we can, with Gd’s help, promote Torah education both in Israel and the Diaspora on a large scale.

For more information about the Shas faction in the WZO and the voting process, please send an email to

Kids of Courage Summer Adventure

San Diego, California was awash with neon yellow t-shirts as nearly 500 members of Kids of Courage (K.O.C.) arrived for its annual nine-day summer adventure in August. The Kids of Courage participants represented 14 states and four countries, including Israel. A charter flight from Newark carried more than 30 individuals who required supplemental
in-flight oxygen at all times, setting a new world record. The flight was labeled by the press, “a hospital in the sky.”

While in San Diego, K.O.C. adventured to Sea World, Knott’s Berry Farm, LEGOLAND, The San Diego Zoo, and many other attractions. Surprise guests included paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, actor and comedian Mendy Pellin, and behavioral economist Professor Dan Ariely.

The organization also arranged for an adaptive water sports day at the gorgeous Ski Beach Park. Even full quadriplegics who rely on ventilation to help them breathe were able to safely jet ski and had the time of their lives.

“It doesn’t matter how serious anybody’s condition might
be – everybody was able to participate equally,” said Yossi Farkas, managing director for K.O.C. “We redefine what it means to livewith a serious disability or chronic illness. There are no disabilities in Kids of Courage.”

Each camper was accompanied by at least one counselor. Some campers required two or even three counselors, depending on the severity of their illness.

Kids of Courage brought six doctors, and more than 20 nurses and EMTs. Around 1,200 doses of medications were administered on the road per day, which the organization says is more than in an average-size children’s hospital. Medical logistics personnel tagged alongcarrying oxygen tanks and ice-cold water in the parks.

The trip to San Diego was the organization’s sixth official summer trip.  K.O.C. also runs a winter adaptive ski adventure to Vermont, in addition to approximately 30 days’ worth of activities throughout the year.

This unique organization was founded in 2009 as a volunteer program dedicated to improving the lives of children fighting serious and chronic illness. Kids of Courage provides
medically-supervised trips to children battling illness at absolutely no cost to their families, and provides a much needed respite for the children and their parents. For more information about Kids of Courage, or to make a donation, please visit You can follow K.O.C. at @KidsOfCourage on your favorite social
media site.

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