By Miri Azose Tilson
Sunday evening marked the Fifth Annual Derech Emunah Winter Garden Party, co-chaired by Shelly Russak and Fortun Azose, and it was spectacular as ever.
Guests were warmly greeted as they entered the beautiful and inviting home of Ike Almo, where they enjoyed a magnificent feast prepared by Larry Russak, Chef Extraordinaire and his talented team of volunteers. The golden glow of the beautiful tablecloths was enhanced by candlelight, the comforting aroma of home-cooked cuisine, and the friendly chatter of 118 guests - a record attendance.
With ample time to enjoy seconds, the program began promptly at 7 pm. The lovely and charismatic Lea Almo Lipman, daughter of Ike and Velma Z”L, welcomed the guests and noted the remarkable growth from 5 to 25 students (a whopping 500% increase) since the school's inception in 2012. Lea then introduced Head of School, Rabbi Michael Cohen who had coincidentally taught Lea when she was in high school nearly 20 years ago.
Rabbi Cohen highlighted and thanked his wife, Mrs. Devora Cohen for making their transition to Seattle a smooth one, and for her incredible efforts to support him and the school.
Rabbi Cohen then described the importance of jewelry to women, for its beauty and sentimental value. The Jewish women in the Torah willingly gave their prized mirrors to construct the basins for the Cohanim to wash their feet each morning. Why? Because Jewish women were and are --women of vision. They were willing to sacrifice their own beauty and cherished items for the sanctification of the Jewish priests.
The next speaker was a special guest, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshiva and Senior Lecturer at Ner Israel Rabbinical College. He echoed Rabbi Cohen’s sentiments regarding the significant role Jewish women play in molding family and community.
Rabbi Frand discussed the idea behind the Torah writing the term “Bait" Yisrael, which appears in the last sentence of Sefer Shemot. This is in contrast to the last sentence in Sefer Vayikra and in Sefer Bamidbar where the term “Bnei" Yisrael" is used.
Why did the Torah in Shemot use the word “Bait (House) Yisrael” rather than “Bnei (Nation) Yisrael?” The answer is specifically in Sefer Shemot where the entity of Klal Yisrael - the Jewish People as a nation is formed. And the key component of creating the Jewish Nation -- is the “Bayit (The Home).”
When a Jewish boy is sent off to Yeshiva, an observant Jew is created. However, when a Jewish girl is educated in Torah and Mitzvot, an entire Jewish “Bayit (Home)” is built, underscoring the pivotal role Jewish women play in the continued existence and growth of the Jewish people.
The final speaker for the evening was Dr. Elie Levy, father of student Beloria Levy and husband to Miriam Levy, active volunteers for Torah in Seattle and worldwide. Dr. Levy discussed the fascinating idea of buying the merit of another person’s Mitzvot. He explained that by making a donation to Derech Emunah and paying for the education of a young Jewish woman, the donor will benefit from the many Mitzvot this woman will accomplish in her lifetime.
Dr. Levy’s appeal concluded the program, and Michael Friend, Director of Development, thanked the hosts, volunteers, and supporters. The attendees then enjoyed Larry Russak's famous Glacier Bay Creamery parve ice cream for dessert (which, by the way, is available for purchase year-round. Click here).
The evening was a smashing success in every way. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere lively and the fundraising exceeded expectations.
We thank our list of over 40 volunteers who made this evening a smashing success. Click to see list.
Below: Rabbi Yissocher Frand delivering "Divrei Bracha" (words of blessing) at the Derech Emunah, Seattle Girls High School, Annual Winter Garden Party.