More than 400 people attended the Orthodox Union’s Yachad gala honoring Jeff and Ilana Gdanski of Englewood, Rachel Cyrulnik of Teaneck, Ken and Mindy Saibel of West Orange, and the Kinderlehrer family of Teaneck —Moshe and Dena and their children Tamar, Zev, Noam, and Eyal. For the first time, 14 high school seniors received Mendel Balk Yachad Center awards, recognizing their commitment to Yachad and inclusion. They are Ahuva Ross, Leah Wenger, and Kayla Saidel, all of Bergenfield; Sammy Chasen of Suffern; Sarah Schechter of Englewood; Jack Kasindorf of Tenafly; and Zachary Adler, Tamar Berman, Rachel Gelb, Atara Herrmann, Brian Racer, Racheli Schacter, Raimy Vogel and Yonina Weinberg, all of Teaneck. The Mendel Balk Center award honors graduating seniors who have spent their high school years volunteering at the Yachad Center and have demonstrated a commitment to contributing to the community.
Ilana and Jeff Gdanski received the Keter Shem Tov award. Their involvement with Yachad began when their children volunteered during high school; their children’s involvement encouraged their parents to host fundraisers and volunteer at the Yachad Center.
At the gala, the Saibels launched the Debby Cohen Ahavat Chesed Fund, named in memory of Mindy’s mother. The funds will go toward Yachad’s yearly needs; this year, it will go toward a sefer Torah that will be housed at the Yachad/NJCD’s Individualized Vocational Development Unit School, Ivdu in Brooklyn. The Torah travels to wherever Yachad needs it, including for shabbatons.
Ken and Mindy Saibel’s involvement in Yachad began with their daughter’s participation in Yachad summer programs, which later led to Ken becoming Yachad’s director of development.
Rachel Cyrulnik, the Women’s Leadership award recipient, began work with Yachad when she was a high school participant on the first Yad B’Yad summer program in 1998. Since then, she has organized local shabbatonim in her community and consulted on various projects for Yachad New Jersey.
The Kinderlehrer family has been involved with Yachad for many years; both parents are siblings of Yachad participants. They attended Yachad events in the New York area and in Montreal, where Dena’s mother was the director of the local chapter. Moshe’s family was among the organization’s founding families.
“Yachad is one of the cornerstone programs of the OU and plays a critical role in bringing important programs, services and Torah education to participants and their families. We are grateful for the support our honorees have given us over the years and the huge participation the gala received in New Jersey,” the OU’s president, Moishe Bane, said.
“The Orthodox Union takes enormous pride in Yachad and the impact it has made on our community,” Allen Fagin, OU’s executive vice president, said. “It has become one of our community’s most treasured resources and we thank tonight’s honorees for their support in helping us achieve our vision of creating an inclusive world.” For more information, go to www.ou.org.