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5 TOWNS JEWISH TIMES SIMCHA SUPPLEMENT

June 11, 2010

1 © Brocha Teichman, Art Studio of the Five Towns, BrochaTeichman.com


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5 TOWNS JEWISH JEWISSH TIMES TIM MEES SI SIMCHA IMC MCHHAA SSUPPLEMENT UPPL UP P EM PL MENNT


EDITOR’S NOTE BY LARRY GORDON

It’s A Celebration “Celebration.” That has to be one of the happiest words in the English language. Who doesn’t like a celebration or an event or occasion to celebrate? And this is particularly so in these challenging times. At the same time, as the seasons change and the weather changes, it seems that somehow we are more geared up and ready to share good news and help family, friends, and neighbors by participating in and enhancing their simchos and special events. Who hasn’t been bedazzled or even enchanted at some point in their life by the idea of a June wedding? Today the parameters of our imaginations have been stretched with the notion that any time of year is indeed an appropriate one to enjoy and take part in one of these great events. In a way, the seasons

have been dispensed with, and now any time of year seems exactly like the right time for a celebration, whether it’s a wedding, a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, or related life-cycle events. And so it is that as summer approached, it seemed like precisely the right time to assemble this magazine to serve as a guide on the subject of the simchas we make, attend, and play a vital role in. And along with some wonderfully insightful articles that look at our happiest occasions from a variety of angles, we also feature some advertisements from the leaders in the simcha industry. I hope you enjoy this supplement of the Five Towns Jewish Times and that you agree that it is always a good time for a celebration. 

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P.O. BOX 690 LAWRENCE, NY 11559 516-984-0079 editor@5TJT.com ads@5TJT.com LARRY GORDON Publisher/Editor

ESTA J. GORDON Managing Editor

YOSSI GORDON, YOCHANAN GORDON Sales Managers CHANA ROCHEL ROSS Editorial Assistant SIDI BARON YAKOV SERLE Sales Representatives SHMUEL GERBER Chief Copy Editor

MICHELE JUSTIC Copy Editor

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Hannah Reich Berman, Anessa V. Cohen, Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg, Toby Klein Greenwald, Rabbi Yair Hoffman, Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, Shmuel Katz, Phyllis J. Lubin, Esther Mann, Rochelle Miller, Elke Probkevitz, Naomi Ross, Dr. Rachael Schindler, Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow, Rabbi Avi Shafran, Eli Shapiro, Ari Sher, Samuel Sokol DOV GORDON, ELISHEVA ELEFANT Staff Graphic Artists IVAN NORMAN, IRA THOMAS Staff Photographers The Five Towns Jewish Times is an independent weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers and columnists are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. We are not responsible for the kashrus or hashgachah of any product or establishment advertised in the Five Towns Jewish Times.

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Harmonia Orchestra: Presenting The Ultimate Music Experience For Your Celebration BY ROCHELLE MARUCH MILLER Harmonia Orchestra is the newest Jewish orchestra to hit the New York scene. The orchestra’s musicians are world-renowned and have performed on Broadway, played for the New York Philharmonic, and have all been enhancing simchas for years. Harmonia distinguishes itself from the competition with its signature style and service, adding a sense of “oomph” to every simcha. We sat down with Harry Askenazi, Harmonia’s personable business manager and bandleader, for an exclusive interview. 5TJT: Who are Harmonia’s founding fathers? When and why was the orchestra started? HA: Harmonia was founded by brothers Harry and Marcos Askenazi in 2005 as an a cappella group performing at bar/bat mitzvahs on Shabbat. As instru-

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ments are prohibited on Shabbat, Harmonia a cappella fills the void with rich harmonies and human percussion. Harmonia Orchestra was founded in 2007. We realized that the last big simcha orchestra was founded 30 years ago and saw a need for something fresh

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in the marketplace. We felt that through our connections from singing with other bands at weddings, and through our connections to the most talented singers in the business, we could create an orchestra that leveraged experience

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Harmonia Orchestra: Presenting The Ultimate Music Experience For Your Celebration Continued from p. 6 and a unique level of “freshness” that would combine to create the ultimate music experience. 5TJT: What makes Harmonia unique? HA: Most Jewish simcha bands are staffed with talented musicians and can play really good music. However, that is only one part of creating a lasting impression. The process starts months before the actual event, and the outcome of the event is really a culmination of two-way client-band interaction. First, we travel to meet in person with each client at a location convenient for them. We get a sense for the general style of music they want played throughout each part of the event. We then work with the client to create a perfect playlist to reflect their and their guests’ musical preferences. Unique to our orchestra is the ability to add the a cappella group to

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sing at a chuppah. The singers’ beautiful multipart harmonies will undoubtedly add to the chuppah another layer of spiritual connection only attained through music. Additionally, we have a supervisor at each wedding who is not one of the musicians and whose sole responsibility is making sure the flow of the music from each part of the wedding to the next is seamless, and he coordinates with the caterer and maitre d’ in advance. 5TJT: What should prospective clients know about your performers? HA: There are many good musicians in New York so we are fortunate to have a large pool of talented musicians to choose from when hand picking the performers who comprise Harmonia. Equally important as being a great musician and having a large repertoire of music is the musician’s personality. All members of Harmonia possess the “it” factor and know how to entertain and blend as a group. They also are all professionals in the truest sense of the word and understand how important the music is for

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each client on their special day. 5TJT: How has Harmonia Orchestra changed the simcha arena? HA: Without taking anything away from the other wonderful bands out there, we have come on the scene a few years ago and been able to reinvigorate the simcha arena with freshness and youthfulness while still staying true to the classic values of personal service and attention. 5TJT: Several of my friends have heard your a cappella group perform at Shabbat s’machot and were enthralled by the rich musicality. How do you do it? HA: We don’t stop looking for the best talent. It’s all about ensuring that every singer can harmonize on the spot, has the energy to entertain for hours, and legitimately is happy to entertain each guest. If you have that combination you will be a good singer in this business. 5TJT: Harmonia is such a soughtafter orchestra; how do you keep each event fresh and exciting?


HA: We change the musical arrangements a little bit each time. Each instrumental solo will be a little different from the last time the musician played the song. The musicians need to be having fun, otherwise it will show in their performance. 5TJT: How do you ensure this? HA: As a bandleader, it is my responsibility to make sure the musicians have enough creative freedom at each event, while still keeping the orchestration coordinated, to genuinely have fun with each song. We also like to use a violinist as part of the dance set as opposed to just the slower background music. I find that this addition adds a unique sound to the dance set, which keeps the orchestra sounding fresh. When you play dance songs that everyone has heard many times it is important to have a slightly different sound than everyone else. 5TJT: What has been your greatest challenge thus far? HA: By far the greatest challenge has been getting our name out there. The market for simcha music is large, especially in New York, so it takes many events before thousands of people have been exposed to your group. It was difficult at first to gain a prospective client’s trust when their exposure to Harmonia has been limited. As the years have gone by, we have been fortunate to foster many great relationships with clients who have generously offered to serve as references for future prospective clients. Between great client references, playing at large events, and partnering with caterers and party planners, we now have been seen by tens of thousands of people, which certainly helps overcome the challenge of getting the name out there! 5TJT: What is the most rewarding aspect of your profession? HA: Walk in the streets of Manhattan and almost everyone you see will have headphones dangling from their ears. Music is ubiquitous. It is a language that has no communication barriers. One of the most rewarding aspects of this profession is knowing that I am providing a service to people that is truly important to them by helping make their simcha memorable and special. I love the pro-

cess from start to finish. Creating a relationship, developing that relationship, and seeing it through to the end is incredibly gratifying. Receiving a phone call or e-mail from a client after their simcha telling you how much your involvement in their party meant to them is by far the most rewarding aspect of my profession. 5TJT: Where has Harmonia Orchestra performed? HA: We have performed in New York (of course!), New Jersey (of course!),

Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, and overseas in Mexico City, Cancun, and Israel. In addition to the countless affairs, we have enjoyed playing for three consecutive years at the exclusive Pesach in Cancun program at the fivestar Leblanc Hotel and Resort and at the 2008 and 2010 Salute to Israel Parades on Fifth Avenue. 5TJT: Thank you for a highly informative and fascinating interview, Harry. HA: Thank you, Rochelle. ď ś

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Jerry Meyer Comes To Town BY MICHELE JUSTIC Lights! Camera! Action! Jerry has come to town, surrounded by cameras and attracting crowds. Throughout his career, he has brought smiles to millions. Yes, Jerry Meyer has opened a state-of-the-art photography studio right here in Cedarhurst. This multigenerational family business began 46 years ago. Cameras certainly looked different back when Jerry’s father began, and they will likely be very different when his 10-year-old grandson, Zachary, will iy”H take over. But the principles of customer service remain the same throughout the ages. Perhaps even beyond the artistry and the use of the latest technology, the Jerry Meyer difference is in the people. Each event has a supervisor to coordinate all the details, making sure everything is seamless

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and that the guests of honor feel, well, honored. Jerry Meyer, along with wife Essie, son Jason, and associate Neil, take time for details—before, during, and after your event. Whether it means bringing the kallah a glass of water, retouching the photos, or completing the album after a mere two weeks, the Jerry Meyer Studio does it all to please the client. Jerry explains, “When they come to the Jerry Meyer Studio, they’re dealing with people who have feelings towards the event of that day, which can be stressful. Other photographers can make people more nervous by intruding on the action. Our top-caliber photographers and staff are understanding and compassionate.” Let’s face it: just about anyone can buy a camera, press some buttons, and save and print the files. Doesn’t your simcha deserve more? A discerning

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eye, subtle lighting, someone to ensure the subject is portrayed in the best fashion…this is what makes Jerry Meyer “the photographer’s photographer” and why many in the event-planning business choose the Jerry Meyer Studio for their own events. With a track record like that, does Jerry take a breather? Never! He makes sure to keep up to date with the latest equipment and techniques to ensure the highest quality pictures. His studio in Cedarhurst is a veritable museum of the future of photography, also featuring digital designers, custom framing, and a beautiful portrait studio. The studio has also been used for commercial work. Jerry invites everyone to visit the studio, at 84 Columbia Avenue in Cedarhurst. The Meyers have learned a few things from having photographed over 7,000 smachos. I am proud to admit that


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Jerry Meyer Comes To Town one of those was my own affair, nearly seven years ago. With all that was happening on that day, it was nice to have a supervisor helping out and doing whatever was needed. He was there every minute—making sure no hair was out of place, that we caught the best time of day to shoot outside, that everyone smiled at the right time, and countless other things I probably didn’t even know about. And what do we have to show for all the time, effort, and money spent on that day? A beautiful album with pictures we picked out one by one with the help of our supervisor, and a DVD featuring all the latest technological offerings. Sadly, those pictures are the last ones I have of my father, a”h, and I showed them to everyone at our shivah. I am certainly glad we spent a few extra dollars here and there to produce such beautiful pictures to help remember his enthusiastic smile. Fast-forward—sorry, that’s “old

© The Jerry Meyer Studio

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school”; skip to the next scene—I am gawking outside the windows of the new studio and reading the ad for portrait sittings. My husband and I took advantage of the offer and were highly impressed with the equipment and space. We even got to see Jason, who by now feels like a family friend. He had cutesy things for the children to be photographed with and nice things to hide my pregnant belly. Thankfully, they offer retouching

Josh and Michele Justic

that promises to make us look like the chasan and kallah we once were. We’re not stopping there—we hope to use Jerry Meyer for our bar and bat mitzvahs as well, and I encourage everyone to visit www.jerrymeyerstudio.com, e-mail info@jerrymeyerstudio.com, or call 1-888-MEYER10. To capture your moment in style, Jerry goes the extra mile. 

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Under The Chupah BY YONI GLATT 1

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Across 1. Arcade hanger 5. Abba, to a tot 9. Some dances 14. Like Carlos Slim 15. Test 16. Set a Chanukah candle aflame once more 17. Double Stuff or Fudge Covered 18. Oscar Winner Sorvino 19. Lithe 20. First the bride…. 23. Car trouble letters 24. Former Laker Tyronn 25. Then they both….. 32. More uncovered 34. Black Emperor? 35. Machine part 36. Gather 37. ___ ___ nutshell 38. With 40. Sight on a shirt at the Kotel, maybe 41. Group (abbr.) 42. They can be long on Simchat Torah 43. After all the brachas, songs, (and maybe some speeches) we watch him…. 47. Time meas. (abbr.) 48. Little devil

49. Finally it’s…. 58. Grown up 59. Like Humpty Dumpty 60. No friend of Israel 61. Work laces again 62. Note 63. Probably not the captain of the basketball team 64. “Paradise Lost” character 65. Make suds 66. Kind of basketball game

Down 1. One rubber sandal 2. Italian River (that sounds a lot like old currency) 3. Computer brand 4. Statement from a teen with a bad attitude 5. Lower 6. ___ of Evil 7. Speed 8. Torah measurement 9. Mystical Jewish city outside of Israel 10. What new leaves did 11. Mixture 12. Origin of the most famous stone female?

13. Controversial cell 21. Dens 22. Much adored muppet 25. Hang 26. Kosher cuisine staple 27. Smell or touch 28. Kind of ape, for short 29. Historic and Cultural 30. How many Roman gods actually exist? 31. What many Jews eat lots of on Pesach 32. Kind of wire 33. Small kibbutz in Northern Israel 38. “ ___ little ____….” 39. Newspaper error 41. ___ ___ cost 44. First name in female flyers 45. One is often adopted 46. Hide 49. Does road work 50. Plan 51. Many a dog 52. Brush alternative 53. Finite word 54. Not cool 55. Kind of code 56. Succah cover 57. Split and dead For solution, please visit www.5tjt.com.


Bridal Secrets BY JOY LIEBER

PROFESSIONAL BRIDAL CONSULTANT

Bridal Secrets, the unique, upscale, and affordable bridal boutique in Cedarhurst, has just added two new features to its website (please visit www.bridal-secrets.com). The only shop of its kind in the world, Bridal Secrets is now offering modest, tzniusdik bridal gowns with full-color photos and details on the web — and on sale, to boot! You can also take a virtual tour of the Cedarhurst store. For the very first time, a bride can purchase a gown for her wedding with a modest neckline and sleeves no matter where she lives, whether it’s in the Five Towns or in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Yes, we checked — they

have an Orthodox Jewish population!). Of course, there’s still nothing quite like making that ‘magical once in a lifetime’ appointment for a private consultation, but let’s face it—not everyone can. So why should they have to settle for a previously strapless gown to which a seamstress had to add extra fabric? Extensive designer bridal collections as well as a full selection of stunning headpieces and veils in every length and detail imaginable are featured in both the Cedarhurst and Lakewood shops. All gowns at Bridal Secrets are available either for purchase or rent for that one special day. A bridal sample sale is simultaneously taking place within both Bridal Secrets locations. The Cedarhurst store also features a com-

plete lingerie department known as “Secret Me” to address the unseen needs of the bride and her wedding party, as well as those women who always want to look their very best. Secret Me also carries women’s nightgowns, pajamas, and robes for both ladies and children. To find out more about Secret Me, call 516-295-4488. No appointment is necessary. Bridal Secrets, now in its eighth year, baruch Hashem, on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst, supports the Be’er Miriam Hachnosas Kallah Fund of Far Rockaway and the Five Towns. To make an appointment for a bridal consultation, call 516-295-2062. Mazel tov! We look forward to preparing another beautiful bride to walk down the aisle. 

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Striking The Right Chord, The Nafshenu Way BY MICHELE JUSTIC As my seventh wedding anniversary approaches, I think of my love for my husband, my beautiful children, and‌ the band we had at our wedding. Yes, I still remember that time in the oh-sodistant past and the beautiful music that served as the perfect accompaniment to our special day. I’m sure I must drive my dear husband crazy when we attend other weddings and I comment, “Do you remember how perfect Nafshenu was? They knew just what to play and when— the fun music in the beginning and the slow music to wind down with‌â€? (At this point, my husband feigns a deep interest in the cars in front of us and the nearby billboard.) Last year, I decided to catch up with

my favorite band and see what has changed and what has remained the same since 2003. I began with a search of the website (www.nafshenu.com). I could have ended there, since it really has just about any information you could want: bios of the highly talented and experienced crew, song samples, a listing of their comprehensive services, and more testimonials than you can imagine, sorted by year. Still, I long for the personal touch, so I called Aaron Appelbaum, as I did so many years ago. He and Jonathan Rimberg are the directors of Nafshenu in New York, and David Kerzner coordinates affairs in Toronto. Far from mere numbercrunchers, these men also bring their many musical talents to ensuring that each member of the crew gives a sensa-

Aaron Appelbaum

tional performance. They also work with clients to provide a musical experience that perfectly complements their special day. I remember meeting with Aaron and giving him a four-word description of my musical tastes. Based on that, he put together the most sensational music I had ever heard. All of our guests—from chassidish to non-Jewish—were entertained as never before and raved about

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Tzvi Silberstein, vocalist

Yankey Goldenthal, vocalist

Mo Kiss

the experience. And with vocalists and band leaders such as Jeff Braverman, Ethan Leifer, Tzvi Silberstein, Yankey Goldenthal, Moshe Kiss, Yossi Bayles, and other top talents, what’s not to like? Aaron explains, “With one of these very soughtafter vocalists, we can assure you we have somebody who can meet your musical needs.” In addition to a strong

background in simcha music, Nafshenu features musicians who have earned acclaim in the secular world, as well. Their talents can be seen on Broadway, film, and television. These versatile performers have worked with Frank Sinatra, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, and many other well-known entertainers. Nafshenu will accommodate all styles of music, including simcha dancing, hei-

mishe/chassidish, classical, klezmer, Sephardic, Mizrachi, Persian, classic rock, motown, disco, jazz, and even current top 40. As one client marvels, “Is there any style music you guys cannot play?” They have traveled all over the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, and played at venues such as the Mandarin Hotel in Washington DC and

Continued on p. 22

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Striking The Right Chord, The Nafshenu Way Continued from p. 21 the Madison Square Garden Theater, the Waldorf Astoria, the Pierre Hotel, and Lincoln Center in New York City. Even with a full performance schedule—Nafshenu performs at several hundred occasions a year—the event planners at Nafshenu still make each client feel that their affair is the one of greatest importance. They meet with each client personally and get a handle on

Nafshenu Orchestra performing at Marina Del Ray

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musical tastes and restrictions. They accommodate all requests. They have as much respect for your preferences as a family member would—OK, more. Their unparalleled customer-service experience results in repeat and even multigenerational customers. One customer wrote, “Everyone, both young, old, and everyone in between, loved the music. The mix of songs you played, how you were able to feel the crowd, the level of

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Nafshenu brass section

sound, it was all perfect!” Returning customers may be surprised that Nafshenu’s list of services has kept up with the times and now offers DJs and MCs, dance motivators, lighting shows, and visual effects, party favors, a cappella groups, magicians, multi-talent performers, jugglers, multimedia presentations, virtual reali-

Continued on p. 24


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Striking The Right Chord, The Nafshenu Way Continued from p. 22 ty games/sports, game shows, comedians, video montages, and karaoke. The list of instruments they perform on would baffle even the most astute music aficionado: sitar, tabla, dumbek, and didgeridoo in addition to the classic piano, violin, trumpet, etc. How does it all sound in the end? Clear, not loud. Aaron notes, “We have

Nafshenu performing with a 40-piece orchestra at the Grand Hyatt

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our own in-house sound company providing state-of-the-art sound equipment that you will find only in the top theaters. We are always sensitive to the volume concern that many clients have and will accommodate just the right volume control.” Listening to the top performers playing music personalized for your tastes at the perfect volume—that’s the Nafshenu experience. Yet, they make sure to offer all of this at a price you can afford. Aaron explains, “We are very sensitive to the state of the economy right now and are willing to work with people and try to help them.” He notes that the philosophy of

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Nafshenu sound engineer

the band is to “keep the customer happy at any cost.” “We go above and beyond to personalize the affair, meet personally with every client, and even accommodate lastminute changes.” Ahh, I can hear those horns now… Wait, that’s the baby crying. OK, I’ll return to my own “simcha” here at home. But if you’re planning a real simcha, go call Nafshenu at 516-371-6660 or visit www.nafshenu.com for an experience you’ll never forget. 


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© Judah S. Harris

Do you have nightmares about your “dream” wedding going wrong? How much time and effort are you putting into those “crucial” details—such as the liquor selection at the bar and the color of your nail polish? Too much, I’ll bet. Here’s my rule for planning a perfect wedding: Hire professionals and let them worry about the rest. You are paying them for this because it is their job and they know more about weddings than you do.

BY MICHELE JUSTIC When we got married, my chasan and I picked what I refer to as the Top Four—a caterer, band, photographer, and florist who were all top notch and had worked with each other as a team many times before. Then, I listened to them and left the rest up to Hashem. Wedding guests do not notice the same details as the party planner does—they are too happy to pay attention. And you should be, too. Now, a perfect marriage is a different story. I recently found an inspiring piece of advice on marriage in an unlikely source—a book about the kabbalah of the aleph-beis. In Letters of Light, Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin explains that the letter ches represents chayim, life. The letter

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It’ll Ruin Your Makeup! is in the shape of a chuppah. He puts a unique spin on the famous Midrash that compares marriage to the splitting of the Red Sea. He mentions that at the splitting of the sea, the wind blew all night, as it is the nature of water to flow and it went against its nature to benefit Am Yisrael. He says, “Because we are going to transform the very nature of something, we must continuously infuse that element with new life, breath, and force. Therefore, a marriage—which requires constant change by the two individuals involved—must be continuously infused with the spirit of G-d” (p. 87). In other words, when the wedding planning is done, the real work begins. Rabbi Amnon Haramati, a teacher at Yeshiva of Flatbush for many decades, used to say that the wedding day should be the worst day of your marriage. Every day, your love should grow. I used to take exception to this advice sometimes. It’s easy to be happy, with the benefit of an expensive gown, an hour-long makeup and hair session, a professional band playing, and delicious catered food; it’s harder with a grocery budget, long work schedule, small apartment, and countless other real-world annoyances. Now

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that my husband and I, baruch Hashem, have three remarkable young children, I understand how love grows in a relationship. But for newlyweds, sometimes the wedding day looms over you as an idyllic state while everyday life can seem grueling in contrast. Thankfully, I had the benefit of hearing Mrs. Chaya Reich on my Pesach vacation a few years ago to tie it all together. She spoke about practical tips for enhancing relationships. You must hear her in person to get the full benefit of her message (visit gatewaysonline.com for more information), but I will try to relay some of it here, as it has made a huge difference in my marriage.

How To Fight…Umm, I Mean ‘Communicate’

Her basic message is to set a proper tone in your relationship. Yes, you will have issues to iron out (such as who will do the ironing). Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the woman takes care of the household. It’s an expectation of sorts, and it may be a difficult adjustment for a working woman. If you look at yourself as a housekeeper, you will resent this


role and create undue tension. You need instead to focus on creating a bayis ne’eman that is fundamental to a happy life for your family and for the Jewish community as a whole. Men generally are the breadwinners. However, it helps shalom bayis when spouses lend support to each other. To get what you need from your spouse, you can set a battleground or you can set a stage. What kind of a night will you both have in store if you don’t make dinner because, why should you; you wear the clothes you know he hates; you bitterly gripe to him about what’s going on? Anyone would react with defensive hostility. On the other hand, let’s say you bite your tongue and make a decent dinner anyway, dress decently for the love of your life, and after dinner calmly have a discussion about what you need or how you feel. When two rational people have a business meeting, so to speak, they will hopefully reach a positive outcome. Mrs. Chana Epstein, a shalom bayis counselor, says that disagreements are caused by unmet expectations. It helps to step back and take stock of why you are upset and to reassess the expectations. I used to be a battleground warrior—always looking for what he should do versus how much I do, and on and on. Now, I remember Chaya Reich’s metaphor: “You try a key in a lock. It doesn’t work. You try it again. This way, that way. It still doesn’t work. How many times are you going to try this same key? It doesn’t work!” I had to realize that my old attitude did not get me anywhere, and it was time to try the kinder, gentler approach.

Continued on p. 35

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Simcha Planning In Israel BY JEREMY WIMPFHEIMER Throughout the decades, Diaspora Jewry has found many ways to show its support for Israel. In recent years, an increasing number of families have discovered an additional avenue to display their love for the Jewish State—by bringing their smachot straight to the heart of Israel. While the idea of a bar mitzvah at the Kotel or choosing that site for the first laying of tefillin is by no means new, this trend of bringing the simcha to Israel is extending to many other happy occasions as well. Numerous companies are now responding to this growing idea and designing specific service lines for those in search of a complete Israel simcha solution.

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David Walles, CEO of the Israel-based Eddie’s Travel (www.koshertravelers. com) has dedicated a section of his growing travel business to helping families celebrate in Israel. He partners with Tali Lev of Lev Hofaot to produce quality events for a wide range of budgets. “Whatever the nature of the simcha, holding it in Israel adds an additional dimension of excitement and adventure that will make it that much more enjoyable,” says Walles. “At the same time, we know that planning a simcha far from home can be a confusing task — which is where our service comes into play.” Eddie’s Travel, which has established a strong name for top-tier kosher travel services on land and at sea through their cooperative venture with Kosherica Cruises, offers interested clients a way to

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make sure they have an informed partner when it comes to planning a simcha. “We work with the proper service providers who know the lay of the land and are able to provide our customers with competitive pricing while also ensuring they’ll get a truly unique and quality event,” Walles says. As a seasoned veteran of the travel business, Walles says that in addition to the event itself, customers are treated to a one-stop shop where they can book flights and hotels and arrange extensive touring itineraries as part of their time in Israel. All over the world, whether it’s a wedding, bar mitzvah, important anniversary, or any other family simcha, the typical request people have is that the event should be “unique.” This has led to smachot with all different types of


themes ranging from sports to environmentalism and pretty much everything in between. But according to those involved with Israel-based smachot, celebrating in the Holy Land presents a whole new array of options where the locale and the setting become a significant part of what the simcha is all about. Mark and Nancy Schiff of Los Angeles have chosen to celebrate all of their sons’ bar mitzvahs in Jerusalem, with their youngest son just having celebrated his coming of age at the Kotel. Mark says that commemorating this occasion in the capital of the Jewish world “gave us the chance to celebrate in the most meaningful place on the planet.” He added that what was originally designed to be an educational experience for his children about the centrality of Israel in Jewish life became one that was internalized both by his sons as well as himself and his wife. He said, “A party in Los Angeles is one night, but a week or two in Israel is forever.” Danny Kaizler is founder and president of IsraEvents (www.israevents. com), a company which has developed a reputation for high-end customized celebrations. He says the ability to celebrate in Israel provides a number of benefits that make the Jewish State a sought-after option for families. “Despite the fact that planning an event in Israel brings with it some unanticipated costs like airfare and hotels,” says Kaizler, “many customers realize that at the end of the day, producing a largescale event here can still be more affordable than if it is held in North America or England.” While there are many upsides to having your simcha in Israel, there are some issues that one needs to know about beforehand to avoid getting stuck at the last minute—particularly when weddings are involved. One young woman who fulfilled her lifelong dream of a wedding overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City noted the need to remember that all marriages in Israel are performed through the local Chief Rabbinate and thus conducted in full accordance with halachah. As such, the bride and groom need to be approved by the local rabbinical authorities prior to the wedding. The two are

therefore required to produce letters from rabbis who are familiar with their families verifying that they come from Jewish homes. As long as everything is in order, the process is fairly smooth. Kaizler agrees that planning an event in Israel requires a heavy dose of “let the buyer beware.” “If you’re coming into Israel for a simcha you shouldn’t be going it alone or else you’ll be overpaying and running into endless headaches and obstacles that will leave you regretting the entire experience,” he says.

For Walles, the chance to bring people from all over the world to spend their happiest moments in Israel is truly rewarding. For the Melbourne native who made aliyah several years ago, “Israel has a magic and a wonder to it that makes it better than anywhere else on earth to have true simcha. The proper event produced by people who appreciate the potential behind real event planning will make sure it’s something that neither you nor your family or friends will ever forget.” 

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© By Judah S. Harris

How To Create

A Stress-Free Simcha BY JEFF NECKONOFF OWNER, AZAMRA EVENTS

One aspect of Jewish life transcends even the most downcast economy. No matter what else is transpiring in the outside world, nothing is as important as being b’simcha—sharing our simcha with our closest family and friends and show-

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ing our love for Hashem, Torah, and the Yiddishkeit-driven lifestyle we have chosen. So we plan smachos to celebrate life’s most meaningful moments—bar or bat mitzvahs, chasunos, sheva brochos, and brisos. As one who has been involved in the planning and production of special events for over 25 years, I humbly pres-

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ent to you some ideas on how to produce the best, most cost-conscious, and most stress-free simcha possible.

Lock In Your Food/Venue and Music! As soon as you have chosen a date and time, jump right into the fun-filled frenzy of selecting your vendors. The


two most important will be the food and the music. Without these two being a hit, the party will sadly not be up to par. Many times, clients have contracted with me before even choosing a venue. You must secure the entertainment you want right away as there are only 40 weeks a year available to the observant community. It is narrowed down even more as Motzaei Shabbos events can only occur from early November through mid-March. Therefore, Sunday is the prime day for events. That leaves us with about 40 Sundays and 20 Saturday nights that are available. Most reputable caterers and entertainers will book up at least three months and up to two years in advance. The best way to choose a caterer and entertainment provider is by word-of-mouth.

going personality, loves working with people, and is able to work well (play nicely) and professionally with other vendors. Those vendors who have been doing this for over a decade usually know how to create a successful event. However, be aware that there are some out there who are burnt out and are stuck in an industry they have no right to be in anymore. But not to worry, that good old word-of-mouth referral system will save you once again from grumpy vendors! Well-known,

professional vendors might seem a bit pricier than someone new or a parttimer. But you will pay either way. If you don’t hire a professional, experienced vendor with a great attitude, your simcha will suffer, and it will be felt by all those in attendance.

Questions For Prospective Vendors: Are you available for my date? Do you provide a written contract?

Continued on p. 34

Book Your Photography, Video, Photo Booths, Extra Activities, etc. Once your music, caterer, and venue are chosen, then you have some breathing room regarding everything else. There are so many qualified vendors in our community. Ask your friends, relatives, and fellow shul attendees who they have used and who they recommend. If anyone, for whatever reason, doesn’t like the vendor they used, you will know right away. A positive recommendation is worth more than a full page $25,000 ad in the NY Times—advertising will tell you how wonderful we vendors think we are in our own eyes. But word-of-mouth will most assuredly bring the cream to the top. If any vendor has glowing recommendations from multiple trusted friends and family, grab him or her immediately and secure their services!

Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish We all love to save a few dollars and get the best deal possible. Hiring a second- or third-rate vendor just to save $200 or $300 is probably not so smart. How hard can it be to sing a song, play an instrument, properly mix music, motivate bar/bat mitzvah guests, organize a chasunah, cook food, take pictures, shoot video, or be able to work well with other vendors? It actually is very hard unless one has a certain out-

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How To Create A Stress-Free Simcha Continued from p. 31 How many hours are included? (Most Motzaei Shabbos and Sunday simchas are either four or five hours. Weekday events are either three or four.) Is setup time and travel included? (If any vendor charges you for setup time and travel for any event less than 100 miles away, move on to the next vendor.) How early do you set up? (All entertainment should arrive at least one hour before the scheduled start of the simcha, and have music running 15 minutes before. Sound checks—why do we all say “check 1, 2, check 1, 2” a hundred times, by the way?—must be finished by the start of the simcha,

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and are unacceptable after it starts. Table settings, flowers, and other decorations need to start being set up at least two hours early.) Can you provide a tentative schedule for the simcha? How many Orthodox Jewish events have you done? How much is your deposit/retainer? What is the total price for the package? Are there any additional charges?

Additional Questions For Musical Entertainment: Are you open to requests? From us? From the guests? (Usually most clients prefer that their guests not be allowed to make requests. Please inform your entertainer which you prefer.) How large is your music collection, and is it varied?


(Bands should be able to play all popular and favorite simcha songs, and with mp3 technology, a DJ should have no less than 3,000 songs available at the event.) Is a wireless mic for speeches included? (All reputable entertainment companies have been wireless since the early 1990s. If anyone uses only a wired microphone, run!)

How long have you been in business? Do you bring backup equipment?

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling. After you have spoken to two or three vendors in each specialty you need, and are happy with all of the above, you need to sign the contract with a “warm and fuzzy” feeling. Basical-

ly, you are trusting a stranger (however professional) to make your simcha the best it can be. Unlike other industries, the hospitality industry exists to bring you from the shmorg to the Yerushalayimplaying finale of your simcha feeling like a million bucks— with everyone smiling, laughing, and wishing you a hundred mazel tovs. You need to feel that your vendor is like

a part of your extended family. Along with your guidance and instruction he/she will enable you to be b’simcha that night and for many years into the future as you reflect on the successful Torah-respecting event he or she was able to give you.  Jeff Neckonoff kvells at seeing a successful simcha. He owns Azamra Events and can be reached at 516-771-9377 and at www.azamraevents.com.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff— It’ll Ruin Your Makeup! Continued from p. 27

How To Make Your Marriage A FLOP On a final note, I would like to relate this idea, of keeping the simcha going for decades to come, to a concept wedding planners can relate to: FLOP. This acronym for Flowers, Liquor, Orchestra, and Photographer helps couples determine who pays for what among the ever-increasing wedding expenses. I suggest you keep the love alive by FLOPping every day. Flowers—Don’t let the romance die. Tend to your marriage continuously, as it is delicate. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t become so consumed with worry that you don’t enjoy the beauty of your home and, more importantly, each other. Liquor (and food)—Eat well, and don’t drink too much. Don’t discuss things on an empty stomach. Always try and eat dinner together (not in front of a TV). Orchestra—Enjoy yourselves. Have a date night. Never lose your sense of humor. Photographer—Try to look better for each other than for the outside world. Smile.  Michele Justic is a copy editor at the Five Towns Jewish Times.

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Esti Lichtman, daughter of Rochel and Shimon Licthman of Far Rockaway, married Moshe Mase, son of Dana and Barry Mase of Monsey, at the Sands on Tuesday, May 25. Music was by the Shloime Dachs Orchestra and catering by Michael Schick Caterers. Suri Brody of NY Party Central handled all the arrangements.

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The Bas Mitzvah of Erica Liebowitz, daughter of Jackie and Jay Liebowitz of Woodmere, took place on May 23 at the White Shul. The entertainment was provided by Malka Entertainment and the delicious catering was done by Sharmel.

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Simcha supplement