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23 Iyar 5761 - May 16, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Agudath Israel of America 79th Anniversary Dinner
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Agudath Israel of America will pay tribute to three renowned Torah activists at its upcoming 79th Annual Dinner, to be held May 20 at the New York Hilton Hotel.

The organization's Rabbi Aharon Kotler Memorial Award will be presented to Elly Kleinman, president and CEO of the Americare Companies, a group of companies that are major providers of home health and rehabilitation services throughout 14 counties in New York State. A national officer and member of the Vaad Hanhala of Agudath Israel of America, Mr. Kleinman has participated in Agudath Israel missions to Washington and served as a delegate on the Am Echad mission to Eretz Yisroel. He is also actively involved in numerous Torah and chesed institutions here and in Eretz Yisroel, including Sinai Academy, Torah Academy of Brooklyn, Yeshivas Hatalmud-Adelphia, Yeshivas Or Dovid-Yerushalayim, Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Yoseph-Yerushalayim, Bikur Cholim of Boro Park, and Hatzolah of Flatbush. Mr. Kleinman is an active member of Bais Hamedrash Bais Yitzchok-Tenke in Flatbush. He and his wife, Brochie, have three children and five grandchildren.

The Reb Elimelech Tress Memorial Award will be presented to Yossi Rakower, a well-known real estate professional and community activist. Born in a DP camp in Germany, Mr. Rakower came to America as a young child. He attended Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vadaath, where he eventually received smicha. In addition to his involvement in various chesed institutions and Torah causes, Mr. Rakower serves on the board of directors of Shuvu and is involved in a number of American yeshivas for Russian immigrants including Merkaz Kiriv. He has also helped sponsor the publication of various Russian- translation seforim. Mr. Rakower is an active member of K'hal Bnei Shlomo Zalman-Vyelopoler in Flatbush. He and his wife, Chanie have four children and two grandchildren.

Agudath Israel's Moreinu Yaakov Rosenheim Award will be presented to Mendel Zilberberg, a prominent New York attorney specializing in civil litigation with a concentration on insurance coverage, real estate and business matters. Mr. Zilberberg, who is dedicated to a wide range of social issues affecting individuals and the community as a whole, is a founder and member of the board of Invei Hagefen -- the shidduch agency sponsored by N'shei Agudath Israel together with Agudath Israel of America -- and maintains an active involvement in various Gerrer mosdos, including Yeshiva Yagdil Torah and Yeshiva Gedolah. Mr. Zilberberg also serves on the board of Project Y.E.S. -- Agudah's program for at-risk teens -- and is a member of the executive committee of AARTS. Mr. Zilberberg davens at Bnei Avrohom -- Kopishnitz in Borough park, where he resides with his wife, Zissy, and his two children.

Avodas Hakodesh Award for Community Service will be presented to Aharon Akselrud, Rabbi Yaakov Hoenig, Dr. Maurice (Moshe) Katz, Joseph Lomner, Abe Newman and Israel Werdyger. Mordechai Biser, ESQ. will be presented with Agudath Israel's Wolf Friedman Young Leadership Award.

A retired Board of Education speech therapist now in private practice, Mr. Akselrud is also a much sought-after professional photographer. He is a member of two well-known Flatbush kehillos -- K'hal Sasreigin and Toras Chaim, where he serves as a gabbai. Also a resident of Flatbush, Rabbi Hoenig serves as the Senior Chaplain in the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. A volunteer for the Flatbush Chevra Kadisha and a maggid shiur, Rabbi Hoenig is a member of the Agudath Israel of Madison and Kerem Shlomo.

A successful businessman for over 40 years, Dr. Katz now dedicates his time and effort to the task of educating young people about the Holocaust. To that end, he teaches a fully accredited college Holocaust Studies course to seniors at the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway and lectures to audiences of all ages in a wide variety of venues. Dr. Katz has been the president of the Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway for more than 30 years.

Mr. Lomner is a retired chemist who now spends his days volunteering at the Agudath Israel of America Archives, where he serves as associate archivist. A long-time resident of Washington Heights, Mr. Lomner is a member of both the Washington Heights Agudah and K'hal Adath Jeshurun.

A teacher in the public school system, Mr. Newman was the gabbai rishon of the Agudath Israel of Staten Island for over 16 years. Mr. Newman is well-known in his community for his active involvement in shul matters as well as his commitment to youth activities.

Mr. Werdyger is a travel professional specializing in travel services for corporate America. In addition to devoting much of his time to the local Bikur Cholim and Ezer Nesuin -- an organization that assists needy newlywed couples -- Mr. Werdyger is actively involved in Igud Mosdos Gur in America and Ichud Mosdos Gur in Eretz Yisroel. Mr. Werdyger is a member of the Gerrer shteibel in Borough Park.

As Agudath Israel of America's associate general counsel, Rabbi Biser works on legal and political issues that affect the Orthodox community. An alumnus of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Rabbi Biser learns and davens at Kollel Bnei Torah during the week.

Says Agudath Israel's director of special projects, Rabbi Yonah Feinstein, "Each awardee is a unique `Reb Yisroel' who by virtue of his kochos and nefesh, his personal capabilities and his extraordinary dedication has made a real difference in Klal Yisroel."

The Rabbi Moshe Sherer Memorial Award will be presented to Rabbi Chaskel O. Besser at the upcoming Agudath Israel dinner, to be held several days after the third yahrtzeit of the legendary Agudah leader. One of Rabbi Sherer's most trusted confidants, Rabbi Besser worked closely with the organization's late president for more than 50 years, devoting his spiritual and physical energies to the cause of Agudath Israel.

Rabbi Besser was born in Poland, where he attended the Radomsker Yeshiva Keter Torah. He escaped Europe on the very day the Second World War broke out, settling in Eretz Yisroel. There, he met and married his Jerusalem- born wife Ahuva, and developed close and enduring relationships with the Presburger Rav, the Tchebiner Rav and the Ponevezher Rav.

After the war, Rabbi Besser moved to the United States and became active in Agudath Yisroel, serving first as the organization's vice president and later as a member of its presidium -- a title he holds to this very day. Rabbi Besser credits both the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Izhak Meir Lewin for encouraging him to dedicate his life to klal work. The rav of Congregation Bnei Israel Chaim in Manhattan, Rabbi Besser is a founding chairman of the Daf Yomi Commission, a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, the American president of Bikur Cholim Hospital of Jerusalem, and chairman for Eastern Europe for the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation -- to name but a few of his many distinguished titles. Rabbi Besser and his wife reside on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The dedication of Agudath Israel of America's new Rabbi Moshe Sherer National Headquarters will also take place at the upcoming dinner -- the first major event sponsored by the Agudah since moving from its 84 William Street address to new, substantially larger offices at 42 Broadway. The dinner will feature a special tribute to the many Agudath Israel supporters and lifelong friends of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, zt"l, whose generous endowments helped make the new national headquarters a reality.


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