Journal Honorees Announced

Dear Congregants and Friends of ACI,

We are delighted and proud to announce that the honorees of our 2018 Anniversary Journal are Rabbi Jonathan Pearl, Judy Pearl, Ayelet Pearl, Eitan Pearl, and Noam Pearl.

It has been ten years since Rabbi Pearl became our Rabbi and the Pearl family arrived at ACI. On this 10th Anniversary of their inspiring involvement with us, we realize, with great joy and appreciation, that under Rabbi Pearl’s creative and energetic leadership, and with the hard work, enterprise, and dedication of his family, our synagogue has been given new life. It has been infused with energy and optimism, excitement and a sense of rejuvenation. Our numbers have grown, and our community spirit has soared. After decades of struggle and dormancy, we are, today, once again, a vibrant congregation with a flourishing Youth Education Program and a dizzying schedule of programs and activities for every constituency.

When Rabbi Pearl arrived at ACI ten years ago, he envisioned for our synagogue, and soon began to implement, the creation of a Hebrew School. He foresaw, correctly, that a Hebrew School would attract young families, who would provide the energy needed to rebuild and revive our community. At the same time, he reached out to all constituents of our multigenerational congregation, engaging us with monthly Lunch ‘N Learns and a variety of adult education programs and activities. He has empowered the women of our shul by offering Ba’alat Mitzvah classes for adult women who never had the opportunity to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah or read Torah. Women are active and equal participants in our religious services and in all other aspects of synagogue life. He has offered conversion classes to those wishing to join our faith. He has enhanced the enjoyment and understanding of our Shabbat and Festival services by providing hand-outs filled with songs and prayers that supplement our Siddurim. He has introduced new, spirited melodies to our services and accompanies the congregation on the keyboard. Rabbi Pearl has worked to increase the visibility and status of our historic synagogue by reaching out to the larger Jewish, as well as non-Jewish, community: He has been an invited speaker, annually, at various 9/11 official ceremonies in Manhattan and Astoria. He is invited regularly to give benedictions at Astoria community events. He is the NYPD Clergy Liaison at the 114th Precinct, is Pastoral Advisor for the Astoria Civic Association, serves on the Chaplain and Leadership Team of the Disaster Chaplaincy Services of New York, is a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Board of Rabbis, and serves on the Community Advisory Board of Mt. Sinai Hospital of Queens. Rabbi Pearl shares wholeheartedly in our joys and triumphs, often incorporating them into services; and he is there, always, in ways we see and ways we don’t, to give support and encouragement to the sick and distressed among us and to comfort and sustain the bereaved.

Ever warm, welcoming, gracious, generous, and caring, our Rebbetzin, Judy Pearl, is an Eishet Chayil—“A Woman of Valor.” She “opens her mouth with wisdom,” keeping us apprised of upcoming events and important information with her announcements from the bimah on Shabbat mornings and through the online Friday Flyer, which she writes, designs, and distributes weekly. She has been instrumental in creating and implementing new programming since the Pearls arrived here. Judy co-chairs the Special Events and Outreach Committee, which plans and coordinates all of our synagogue’s events and activities; and every year, Judy documents these with wonderful photographs that are published in our annual Journal. Every now and then, Judy sings a prayer for us, and it is always a delight to listen to her lovely, melodious voice. She “gives food to her household,” organizing and overseeing our monthly Friday night potluck suppers, our Yom Kippur BreakFasts, our spirited communal Seders, our annual Shabbat Across America, and our Shavu’ot Dine ‘n Drash. Each year, the Pearls welcome the congregation for lunch in their Sukkah, as well as host other holiday, educational, and special events at their home year-round.

For many of us, perhaps our first poignant memory of Ayelet is that of a young 16-year-old who enchanted us with her beautiful voice and sensitive rendition of selected High Holiday prayers. But Ayelet, of course, even at that young age, also became the first teacher of our Hebrew School—our budding MASKIT Youth Education Program—and she has since developed its programs and served as its director. Ayelet teaches the Upper Class, students aged 8 through 13, and prepares them for Bar and Bat Mitzvah. She offers Torah reading classes to students in the MASKIT program, to Post Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, and to adult members of our congregation. With great love and devotion, Ayelet actively involves the Maskit children and teens in Jewish life by providing many ways of enjoying holidays and traditions throughout the year, including field trips, art projects, the Purim and Chanukah play, visits to the Pearl home, and so much more. All the while, she continues to captivate us with her singing, her Torah readings, her chanting of Haftarot, and her occasional davening of portions of the Shabbat morning service. She has impressed us with her memorable photographs of our nonagenarian members and the students of MASKIT and with the related photographic exhibitions, which she curated. More recently, she launched and has helped organize a series of “Havdalah and activity nights” held on Saturday evenings, following Shabbat. With all this, Ayelet also brought ACI into the social media age, and created for our synagogue branding, logo, and PR projects and designs.

Over the years, Eitan has set an example to our young students for great mentshlichkeit and active participation in synagogue life. We remember his contributions to our Purim plays and Chanukah parties, but mostly we have admired and appreciated Eitan’s musical abilities and his expertise in Torah reading. It is always a special treat to hear Eitan read Torah, chant a Haftarah, or play the clarinet at our Shabbat and Festival services or special programs. Now more than ever, we cherish these times, since he moved away and cannot be with us as often as we would like. We are grateful to him for continuing to take time from his busy and responsible work schedule to share his many wonderful talents and skills with us.

It is hard to believe that Noam is 18 years old. We remember his Bar Mitzvah and how beautifully he read Torah, chanted the Haftarah, and davened major portions of the service. Today, Noam reads Torah for us on a regular basis and, at times, davens portions of the Shabbat morning service. For years, he chanted Ashrei for us every week until handing the mantle over to the next generation. We very much enjoy listening to him daven and hearing him play his guitar and bass at our services and programs. He enlivens and enriches our community with his unique personality and wonderful sense of humor.

It appears that with the arrival of Rabbi Pearl and his family, we were given not just one gift, but a package of lovely surprises. Please join us on Friday evening, June 22nd, at 7:30pm, when we will honor and celebrate the Pearls and thank them for the many wonderful ways in which they have served our congregation and touched our lives. You will receive a copy of the Journal, and there will be a festive Kiddush following the service, where you will have a chance to greet the Pearls.

We are off to a late start. Time is very short. The ad deadline is Monday, May 14th. Please submit your ads, your tributes to the Pearls and to your own family members and friends, as soon as possible. We thank you for helping to make this an especially successful Journal for this very special family.

Sydelle Diner and Susan Cohn

Co-Chairs, Journal Committee



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