70th Anniversary Memories

By Shimon and Hennie Wolf-Rabbi Wolf’s son 
My family came to Great Neck 65 years ago. Although the Synagogue already had its initial building at 26 Old Mill, the number of sabbath observers were few. What you see today is a result of those pioneers.

The NSHA was part of the Shul. As one of 6 (increased to 8 by the Steinberg twins a few months prior to graduation) we were the first graduating class at NSHA. Rabbi Norman Lamm  Z”TL was the speaker. Jack Schwadron A”H was Chairman and Dr. Jackie Hott was head of Education. All under the guidance of Sol and Belle Goldwyn A”H . I have only fond memories of that hardy group.

As my father zt”l the Rabbi and my mother A”H the Rebbitzen , our relationship with the shul will always be cherished.
My bar mitzvah, wedding, the bar mitzvah of our son and the weddings of our daughters were at the shul.
We wish the shul continued growth and vibrancy.

By Ilene & George Schuman
So many celebrations at the GREAT NECK SYNAGOGUE. My brother’s Bar Mitzvah, my Hebrew School graduation, my wedding, my son’s Bar Mitzvah and my granddaughter’s baby naming. The Rabbi changed as did the sanctuary and
the friendships but the feeling remained the same. I have been most fortunate to have been part of this Synagogue family who is always there in happy and sad times----Here’s to many more years.
By Sharon Goldwyn
The Great Neck Synagogue has always been a part of my life. Growing up in Great Neck I watched my parents dedicate themselves to achieve their vision to build the Great Neck community into a town of Torah values.  For those living here now it is hard to think of Great Neck with barely a minyan, few Shomrei Shabbat families and no kosher facilities. As the Great Neck Synagogue celebrates its 70th year we can be grateful to the GNS and all those who took the time to build our Shul, to start the NSHA, the Mikvah and the Eiruv which were all founded by the Great Neck Synagogue leadership. 

Mazal Tov to GNS on reaching this 70th year milestone!
By Evelyn Henis
I made my dearest long - lasting friendships in the Sisterhood.  Halina Greenwald was president. Lorraine Domnitch, Miriam Bader, Muriel Braun, Pauline Lowenstein, Florence Schaeffer, and many more Sisterhood women. To raise money for Sisterhood, we all worked in the kitchen (a sink) to make lunches so we would have enough money for a new kitchen for the Shul.

By Linda & Mark Bunim
We moved to Great Neck in May 1980 from Manhattan. A few weeks after we moved in, on a Friday afternoon, a man whom we had never seen showed up at our front-door with a bottle of wine and a challah to welcome us and wish us a good Shabbos. It was Rabbi Wolf. We wound up talking for about one hour and he told us all about the Shul and the Hebrew Academy. At the time we had one son who was 2 years old. As they say, the rest is history. It's been a great 41 years.

By Dov Sassoon
I feel very fortunate to have grown up attending GNS, and now get to watch my children attend the shul as well, and benefiting from all the amazing programming I was able to benefit from myself.  Our shul has been an incredible place for the community to come together, and we should be proud of the last 70 years, and even more excited for the next 70 years. 
By David and Diane Rein
We are grateful to have been members of Great Neck Synagogue for the past 23 years. We are happy that our three children grew up here and celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs, as well as a Shabbat morning bris, all in the Goldwyn Sanctuary. We have made the best of friends here who are like family to us, and who we have shared hundreds of Shabbat and Yom Tov meals together, as well as happy and sad occasions. We look forward to being at the next celebration in another 70 years when we will be in our 120's! 

By Joey and Donna Hecht
GNS is our home away from home. We have 
celebrated 2 bar mitzvahs at the shul -Adam and Joshua. Rabbi Polakoff was at both my Children’s weddings. He officiated at  the Bris of my youngest son, Josh and at the Bris of Josh’s son Meir Simcha which was the first bris held at GNS during Covid. We have created very close life long friends over the past 25 years from the many people we met at our Shul.     

By Jayne and Joe Rosenthal 
The first time we came to GNS we knew it was home. What struck us immediately was how warm the community was. Rabbi Polakoff included us and made us feel super welcome.  We have made many friends and have spent lots of shabbatot enjoying all that GNS has to offer.
By Rabbi Esor W. Ben-Sorek
On this occasion of the shul's 70th anniversary I wish it more success, more happy members, more years of devoted service by our Rabbis and Cantor, and more devout praying and fewer private conversations. But I guess that is all a part of being an Orthodox shul. As for many more joyous years--- ken yirbu with my love.
By Pam & Baruch Toledano
When the destination was GNS Shabbat Youth Program and Bowls of Rabbi Moskowitz’s steaming, hot cholent; dressing three children in their “Shabbat Finest” was never a problem!  Their minds were memorized by Rabbi Moskowitz and his Shabbat Teachings; and their pangs of hunger satiated by a steaming, hot bowl of Rabbi Moskowitz’s “secret-recipe” Cholent. I smile today, recalling the license plate of Rabbi Moskowitz’s car, “Cholent.”  
The rewards of those days are priceless: 1. Love for Torah and Jewish Pride 2. Special friendships started in Youth and lasting until today and 3.) a loving bond with GNS which made the Shul our second home. We are so blessed. We are so grateful. 

By Rhonda & Jack Lipsky
When I was growing up, my father told me that during your life, you will meet one or two people who will have a profound effect on you and even change you. Rabbi Wolf was one of those people. Rabbi Wolf was a Rabbi’s Rabbi and a true inspiration! It has been a tremendous privilege to call him my friend, mentor and Rabbi.

By Sydelle & Rob Knepper
When we moved to the Village of Kensington at the end of 1989, we wanted to join a synagogue that was urbane, multi-faceted and participated in community outreach. Coming from the City, we were not sure what a suburban synagogue would be like, and we were concerned that GNS was very large and our family with two young children, Stephanie, age 7 and James, age 2, might be somewhat invisible in such a crowd. We, though, were warmly welcomed by the Outreach Committee that made special efforts to host our family since we knew almost no one in Great Neck. The decisive moment for us, came, though, when Rabbi Polakoff made an appeal from the bimah at Shabbat for resettlement funds for the Campaign for Ethiopian Jewry and he mentioned our support of this effort. It was a signal that we were part of the GNS family and that has made all the difference.

By Zehava & Mike Atlas
I have the fondest memories of walking to Shul with my father A”H every Shabbos, rain or shine.  As a young child I remember the kind faces of Rabbi and Elaine Wolf who always greeted me with a smile from ear to ear. 
In my youth I enjoyed Rabbi Moskowitz’s Cholent kiddush, divrei torah and many onegs at Rabbi Jensen’s house. Perhaps these warm memories are what propelled me to become a part of the GNS Youth leadership team, so I can help create those same memories for the next generation of children in our synagogue. 
Happy 70th Anniversary GNS!

By Vivian & Nik Kron and Family
When we moved into our house in 2000, we went Shul shopping. Our first and last stop was the Great Neck Synagogue. We were so warmly welcomed by the gabayim and congregation that we instantly felt at home and knew we had found our new chevra.

When Rabbi Polakoff and Ellen moved in across the street, we were reminded that 'chazanus doesn't travel’ and we would still need to come to Shul! GNS and Rabbi Polakoff, you have helped us welcome our four children into the Great Neck community. Together we have celebrated brises, a Bat Mitzvah and next year, BH, a third Bar Mitzvah. You have also been with us through the sad times, especially when Vivian’s father, Sal Mahlab z”l, passed away. With each simcha celebrated and loss shared, we have come to realize how special this community is. We look forward to celebrating many more simchas with our Great Neck Synagogue family and pray that our Shul continues to go from strength to strength in the coming years.

By Leah Reichlin
I have been involved in Great Neck Synagogue’s youth program from the time I was in preschool groups. It is a very welcoming program which made me enjoy coming to shul every Shabbat. I assumed the responsibility of being a youth leader in 8th grade and since then I have been able to take part in helping the next generation of children enjoy their time in shul.

By Irene Goren Burg (Daughter of Shelly Goren)
Great Neck Synagogue – very much a part of my history. My father, Shelley Goren was one of the founders of the Great Neck Synagogue. I remember walking with my Dad to the synagogue which had its start in a room above the Squire movie house in town. Then the Shul moved to a private house right near our home. I went to Hebrew School there. Much later, when the Shul had a permanent building, we even had a short-cut gate from our home to the Shul. The Shul was literally an extension of our home. I had no excuses for being late to services. Even though we moved away from Great Neck, and 10 years later we made Aliya to Israel where we have been living for 40 years, the Great Neck Synagogue is part of who I am today. 

By Mark Friedman
My wife, Meryl and I joined the Great Neck Synagogue nearly 30 years ago, when our oldest child, Jared, was beginning school at NSHA. As many of the NSHA families also attended GNS, we developed some very close relationships and ultimately found a home for our family in the shul.

My fondest memory was sitting in Shul on the Shabbos morning of my son’s Bar Mitzvah. I nervously awaited Jared’s reading of the parsha. Jared read beautifully, and I am proud to say that to this day he is devoted to reading the Torah and davening for multiple shuls in LA every Shabbos.

The synagogue has been a source of spiritual and social connection to myself and my family these past many years, and I look forward to many more opportunities to make lasting memories.
By Dr. Paul E. Brody
This 13th of Adar, (traditionally Ta’anis Esther, Erev Purim), will mark the 18th- Chai Yarzheit of our dear Rabbi Dr. Ephraim R. Wolf, HaRav Ephraim Reuven ben Nachum Chaim zt״l,  הרב אפרים ראובן בן נחום חיים זצ״ל. The modern Orthodox community in Great Neck was shaped by him. When Rabbi Wolf became the spiritual leader of the Great Neck Synagogue in 1956, the strong denominations on the peninsula were Reform and Conservative and Orthodoxy was perceived to be out of touch with modern society. As Rabbi Polakoff said "Through his force of personality, Rabbi Wolf was able to give a legitimacy to Orthodoxy that Great Neck might otherwise not have had. May Rabbi Wolf's Neshama have an Aliyah on his upcoming 18th Yarzheit and may his memory, together with his wife Rebbitzen Elaine Wolf zt"l memory, be a blessing for us, his children Rabbi Shimon and Hennie Wolf, Dr. Dahvid and Leah Wolf of Meitar, Israel, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, ken yirbu.
By Brenda and Dr. Ed Parver 
We moved into Strathmore on March 29, 1979 and Rabbi Wolf showed up at our doorstep just when the moving truck left.  He came to welcome us and brought Challah for Shabbos.  That was the beginning of our relationship with the Great Neck Synagogue. 
During this era of GNS we remember fondly Chazan Schulman.

We were very fortunate to live close to the shul so we often hosted scholars and guest speakers.  It was a privilege and an honor, and we got so much out of it. The summer seed programs brought many Kollel students to Great Neck and for many years we hosted the Rabbis and their families.
Our children have moved away.  The environment in which they grew up here at the GNS  has enabled them all to flourish in the communities. We celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Great Neck Synagogue and wish the Synagogue much hatzlacha in the years going forward.
By Tami Kramer
Our family loves to come to Great Neck Synagogue. I am grateful for the community and the spiritual guidance from our rabbis and Chazzan. The youth department has created an environment that my children love and makes them look forward to shul.  My favorite seat at GNS is in the Beit Midrash where the large open windows provide brightness and a view of the blue sky and green trees.
By Norman Fisher
The Great Neck Synagogue is our collective mikdash me’at, our little sanctuary. This Shul is where we encounter HaShem, but is also an extension of my home where our bonds to one another are formed and strengthened.
Every Shabbat as president I could see the hundreds of congregants sitting in shul and going all the way back into the social hall. I visited the other minyanim in our Shul which were equally vibrant. I would visit the youth groups and observed their mikdash me’at as they sang, davened or played. As shabbat services ended we reassembled in the Mender auditorium for kiddush. It was a beautiful gift to see families and friends reconnect and spend an hour with one another in enjoyment.
I yearn for a Shabbat in which we took so much for granted. It is my hope and prayer that we soon retreat from this pandemic so that our synagogue community can return to its vibrancy that I experienced during the years of my presidency.
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