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Young Israel of Great Neck

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut May 11

Rabbi Menachem Leibtag - Shabbat May 14, 2016

YIGN 2016 Dinner

The 2016 Annual Dinner was a great success.  Special thanks to our honorees Sarah & Etan Walls and Barrie & Eliot Peyser as well as to the entire Dinner committee.  

The following are links to two videos presented at the Dinner.

2016 YIGN Dinner - Rabbi Lerner

2016 YIGN Dinner - Twins


President's Message

The Young Israel of Great Neck (YIGN) was established over 40 years ago through the efforts of six visionary families.  What started out as their dream has resulted, after four decades of tremendous growth, in a large, thriving, modern orthodox congregation with over 250 family members, located at 236 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck. In addition to our beautiful main sanctuary, our state-of-the-art Justin Family Center contains a large Beit Midrash, several classrooms, as well as a full-sized gymnasium. Read more



Mazel tov to Rachel and Jason Applebaum and Udi and Jules Winokur on the bar mitzvah of their son and nephew, Jack Henry.

Mazel tov to June and Stuart Feigenblatt on the forthcoming marriage of their son Andrew to Orly Coblens.

Mazel tov to Randi and Arthur Luxenberg on the engagement of their daughter Jacqueline to Jonathan Spiegel.

Mazel tov to Jenny Scherzer on the engagement of her daughter Lisa to Jason Mirvis.

Mazel tov to Joyce and Michael Frank, Mrs. Hannah Frank, Jenny and Adam Katz, Judy and Lanny Oppenheim, Lisa and Eli Schilowitz and  Rene and Avner Skoczylas on the birth of their grandson, great grandson, nephew, grand nephew and cousin, Leo Henry.          

Mazel tov to Miriam and Gil Ellenberg and Danielle and Josh Ellenberg on the birth of their granddaughter and daughter, Nechama Leba.

Mazel tov to Anita and Hal Beretz, Debbie and Alan Kestenbaum, Susan and Bruce Decter and Riva and Jordan Kestenbaum on the birth of their great grandson, grandson, grand nephew and son.

Mazel tov to Jessyca and Jonathan Aaron on the birth of their daughter.


Condolences to Mark Gold on the loss of his father, Joseph Gold z.l.


Fran and Bernie Mermelstein and Ariella and Ari Spodek would like to thank the Young Israel members and friends for their outpouring of support and kindness following the loss of their father and grandfather, Joseph Mermelstein z.l.


Please bring your unopened, non-perishable Pesach foods to the Young Israel Office. NO MATZO please! Other kosher, non-perishable food is welcome as well! All donated food will be taken to the Rina Shkolnik Kosher Food Pantry in the Five Towns. Food will be collected until Wednesday, May 11. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Shapiro 516-637-3758. Tizku l'mitzvot!

Commemorate YOM HAZIKARON - Celebrate YOM HA’ATZMAUT At YIGN, on Wednesday evening, May 11 - Featuring a short film that will educate and inspire you: A Bravery Fiercer than Death: The 35 Heroes of Gush Etzion


7:45        Mincha

8:05        Yom Hazikaron Program

8:25        Tefilat Ma’ariv Chagigit

Please make every effort to attend…adults and children invited. Let us show Hakarat Hatov to our precious Chayalim who have made the supreme sacrifice, and to Hashem for enabling us to live in the era of the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

Tuesday May 17th 7:30 PM 

At the home of Susannah Malen and Noah Leibowitz, 16 North Drive

Join us for an informative and entertaining evening in support of our community Mikvah.  The event will feature our back-by-popular-demand speaker, Rachel Hercman LCSW, who will be speaking on: Abandoning Perfection -- Learning to let go in life, love and intimacy.  Lucite Ladies boutique on site as well - proceeds to benefit the Mikvah. Donations welcome at, under the 'annual fundraiser' tab.

Netti and Ari Herman
 will be Guests of Honor at Nishmat’s 26th Anniversary Gala Dinner, featuring Nishmat Dean & Founder, Rabbanit Chana Henkin, on Wednesday, June 1, at the Harmonie Club, NYC. To share the celebration, contact co-chairs Karen & Jason Hammerman, Tovah & Josh Marmer, Lisa & Eli Schilowitz or log on to 

YIGN has established an account at Fidelity Investments to facilitate stock donations. You can pay your Shul dues, pledges, or any other obligation by stock, which may have tax advantages to you. For example, if you donate stock with a long term capital gain, you may be able to avoid paying taxes on the capital gain while getting a charitable tax deduction for the full current value of the stock.  Please call the Shul office for stock transfer instructions.  Of course, you should check with your accountant to understand your specific situation.

We are looking for sponsorships for our Shabbat Mevorchim kiddushes. If you would like to celebrate a simcha, acknowledge a yahrzeit or celebrate any occasion, a Kiddush is a nice way to do so. We are looking for sponsorships of $300 eandch. Please call the shul office if you would like to participate. The available date is June 4.

In order to enhance the observance of taharat hamishpacha in our community, we are excited about welcoming Yoetzet Halacha, Lisa Septimus, as an additional resource for answering questions. 

Like all Yoatzot Halacha, Lisa has been  certified by a panel of Orthodox rabbis to be a resource for women with questions regarding taharat hamishpachah (an area of Jewish Law that relates to marriage, sexuality and women's health). This role was devised to assist women who are more comfortable discussing very personal issues with another woman, with the option of remaining anonymous during the call. In preparing to become Yoatzot Halacha, women devote two years (over 1000 hours) to intensive study with rabbinic authorities in taharat hamishpachah and  receive training from experts in modern medicine and psychology, including gynecology, infertility, women's health, family dynamics and sexuality.

Below is Lisa's contact information, as well as for our rabbinical team, all of whom remain available to answer questions and provide guidance: 

Yoetzet Halacha Lisa Septimus - 516 415 1111

Rabbi Lerner - 516 318 0141

Abby Lerner - 516 661 1072

Rabbi Ismach - 516 250 8202

Malka Ismach - 917 373 4883


The Emunah Spring Luncheon will take place May 24, 2016 at 11:30AM at the Prince George Ballroom, 15 East 27th Street in New York City. One of the luncheon honorees is Daniella Muller from Great Neck. The keynote speaker is Lea J. Goldman, Executive Editor, Marie Claire.

The luncheon in memory of Sharon Sokol Heisler z.l. will take place on Shabbat, May 14th at the Great Neck Synagogue. Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik will be the guest speaker. To make a reservation, contact the GNS at GNS.ORG OR JFRISCH@GNS.ORG.


The following donations have been made to the Young Israel of Great Neck:

Rita Gordonson in honor of Abby Lerner’s being honored at the Yeshiva University High School Dinner

Oshri and Ian Silverbrand in honor of Abby Lerner

Rabbi Henry and Rochelle Dicker in memory of Joseph Mermelstein; In memory of Joshua Glatzer

Jamie and Michael Katz in memory of Joseph Mermelstein

Evelyn and Oscar Kranz in memory of Joseph Mermelstein; In memory of Joseph Gold; In honor of the birth of Leo Henry Skoczylas; In honor of the birth of Diana and Albert Schwartz’ grandson; In honor of Jack Henry Applebaum's bar mitzvah; In honor of the engagement of Lisa Scherzer and Jason Mirvis

Rabbi Lerner's Weekly Parsha Shiur


Parshat Acharei Mos

16:1-2: And Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon’s two sons, when they approached before Hashem, and they died. And Hashem said to Moshe: Speak to Aharon, your brother – he shall not come at all times in the Mishkan, within the Paroches, in front of the cover that is upon the Aron, so that he should not die; for in a cloud will I appear upon the Ark-cover. Rashi: Chazal tell us that this pasuk teaches that Aharon can only enter the Kodesh Hakadashim one day a year, on Yom Kippur.  The Abarbanel agrees and cites a source for this from Yoma 53a. This is what most mefarshim think. However, the Midrash in Vayikrah Rabah disagrees and specifically refutes the idea of once a year or even periodically as to Aharon entering.  On the contrary, it is every day when it comes to Aharon – whenever he wants to go in, he will be allowed with the one qualification – that he enter with this special seder haavodah that is outlined at beginning of the parsha, using the ketores.  That allows Aharon to go in. The Meshech Chachmah quotes this opinion of the Midrash and says that the Vilna Gaon agrees with this Midrash, going against Rashi – Aharon can enter anytime with the Ketores; after Aharon though, his sons and all future Kohanim Gedolim could only go in once a year, on Yom Kippur. Aharon was the exception to the rule. The Vilna Gaon links it to something that the Sforno says at the end of the parsha of Emor having to do with lighting the menorah and offering the ketores on a daily basis. It says there in 24:2-4: Command Bnei Yisrael that they take to you clear olive oil, pressed for lighting, to kindle a continual lamp. Outside the Curtain of the Testimony, in the Ohel Moed, Aharon shall arrange it, from evening to morning, before Hashem, continually; an eternal decree for your generations. On the pure Menorah shall he arrange the lamps, before Hashem continually. Why does it mention Aharon who does it? It is not the job of the Kohen Gadol? The Sforno says just as it says here that Aharon kindles the Menorah, later it says that Aharon lights the Ketores as well. While a regular Kohen can usually light the Menorah, it says Aharon in both places to tell us that during the 40 years travelling in the desert, every day the Mishkan was equivalent to what was only one day a year after these years, on Yom Kippur. Every day in the Midbar was like Yom Kippur. Hashem appears in the cloud on Yom Kippur throughout history; during the desert travels it says that Hashem’s cloud was perpetually in the Kodesh Kadashim, turning into a flame at night. That is why during these 40 years, it was only Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, could enter and light the Menorah and the Ketores, because of the perpetual presence of cloud that represented the presence of Hashem. This unusual phenomenon indicated that God had married the people and was staying with them. Every day was like future Yom Kippurim – God’s presence was tangible every day, and only the Kohen Gadol could go in and light the Ketores and the Menorah. There was a constant Gilui Shechina, like on Yom Kippur. The Vilna Gaon says that during the entire 40 years the cloud hovered over the Mishkan, and whatever went on in the Haichal was like a Yom Kippur. So during those 40 years Aharon could enter inside and get close to God’s presence, as long as he does it in the prescribed manner. It was an eternal covenant that would allow the Kohen Gadol to enter only on Yom Kippur; during Aharon’s time, it was elevated to the status of Yom Kippur. The other meforshim say that only Moshe can enter on a daily basis because that was where Moshe got the prophecy from God – the transmission of Nevuah came only from within, so Moshe had to be able to enter and receive the mitzvos; Aharon entered just to show his love of Hashem. This is also why Aharon was the one to light the Menorah – other kohanim could not enter because of God’s presence, just like all future Yom Kippurim.

            RavBaruch Simon: by causing the Anan to hover over the Mishkan, Aharon could approach God daily. Hashem wanted it this way, as a special tribute to Aharon and his midos. Hashem did this only for that unique period of time, because of what Aharon exemplified. In Mesechtas Kalasi Rabah: we know the special Midah of Aharon – Ohev Shalom, Verodef Shalom – Aharon was incredibly humble as well. Moshe was the model of someone who is an Anav; the midah of Shefah Ruach (lowly of spirit) we learn from Aharon. At the end of Malachi there is a portrait of a Kohen – Torah will always be found on his lips, Torah will be sought from him, because he is an angel of God – this is attributed to Aharon. He was an incredible kiruv worker, bringing people back from the path of sin. Moshe was Midas Hadin, Aharon HaRachamim. Aharon was the Rodef Shalom, not Moshe. In order to love all people, one has to have a thick skin. He would not quarrel with anyone, and he would go out of his way to intervene, to reconcile the two. This is why he was universally loved. He brought tremendous Shalom Bayis between couples. This is why when we compare the deaths of Aharon and Moshe it says something different – with Moshe it says they cried for him; with Aharon it says the entire nation cried for him. Moshe has more rapport with the men, Aharon with both men and women, because he saved marriages. Yeshayahu: the one who is on high and Holy I will dwell, with the person willing to flatten himself and be Shefah Ruach. Pursuing peace and lowering one’s dignity to save others is a unique quality. Hillel says that mitzvohs come to people – like when a wondering ox comes to you, you return it to it’s owner; when it comes to Shalom Bayis, we should seek it out, we should chase after the opportunity to make peace between people. Aharon initiated the opportunities to create peace – he was unique in this way.

            Rav Yaacov Kaminetsky: One should throw marrah onto one’s students – one should intimidate them to fear the Rebbi. This attitude was only during the time when the Gemorrah was written because of what that society was like. In our time it won’t work because a student treated like that will leave and be lost to Yiddishkeit. You win students with love.

            Rav Chaim Voloshon: if two people are sitting together and not learning Torah together because they feel they are smarter than the other, this is not what God wants. One should not feel superior to others. This was what Aharon was like.

            Moshe went into the Mishkan for intellectual purposes; Aharon went in for Avodah, out of love. We can’t reach level of Moshe, but we all can become the talmid of Aharon with his love of others.

Fri, 6 May 2016 28 Nisan 5776