By Phil Corso
The joining of two northeast Queens synagogues has made way for a new beginning at Little Neck’s Congregation L’Dor V’Dor as leaders prepare for the first major event with both families under the same roof.
For years, the Little Neck Jewish Center, at 49-10 Little Neck Pkwy., hosted an annual dinner-dance where its members gathered and celebrated their faith as well as each other. But now that the center has merged with former Bayside synagogue Oakland Jewish Center, Rabbi Gordon Yaffe said it was a new opportunity to embrace Jewish life in Queens.
“This coming together has strengthened us both,” Yaffe said. “This dinner dance gives us a chance to celebrate our extended family at a time when many congregations are closing their doors.”
The May 5 Journal Dinner Dance will be held at Temple Beth El in Great Neck, L.I., and will recognize four of its own with three special awards.
Yaffe and his wife Carrie were named recipients of the Larry Kaplan Award, given each year in memory of a former Little Neck Jewish Center leader. A spokeswoman at the congregation said the Yaffes were chosen for their warmth and ability to connect with members of all ages throughout the center.
“This is an extremely warm and generous group of people who are extremely passionate about Judaism,” Carrie Yaffe said. “Everyone has enveloped us since we first came here.”
Bob Stern, who served as president of the former Oakland Jewish Center, has since assumed a new role as co-president of L’Dor V’Dor and will also be receiving honors at the dance. Stern was chosen for the brand new Maury Singer Award in honor of the recently passed Oakland Jewish Center member of more than 30 years.
“Maury was a big proponent of coming together,” Stern said of his late colleague. “To me this award is important because he was also a very good friend of mine for more than 20 years. I am very humbled to be the first recipient.”
The Elaine Bruckenthal Eishet Chayil Award will go to Joan Ross, another active member of the Little Neck congregation for nearly 40 years. Ross, who sits on the Board of Trustees, has played a major role in various projects at the synagogue and contributes regularly to its Sisterhood Book Club and adult education classes.
“To get this honor has to do a lot with the role of women and their emerging role in contemporary Jewish life,” Ross said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about the service to this temple family.”
Each honoree made it a point to endorse the betterment of the entire temple family as the group looks ahead after the merger and strives to live up to its new name, which translates to “from generation to generation,” Yaffe said.
“We have become stronger with everything we do. There is a synergy between the members of both congregations that adds to the experience of Jewish life,” Yaffe said. “It’s more than numbers. It’s the increase in energy that has been exponential because of this new friendship.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.