Chabad of the Valley Annual Banquet with Sol Teichmann “Securing the Future”

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The 2015 fundraiser by Chabad of the Valley was a sold out banquet presented under the banner, “Securing the Future.” Held on June 8th, the event was filled with meaningful speeches with music entertainment besides.

The evening was a celebration of 26 Chabad centers in the Valley, a vast area that runs from Studio City to Ventura, from Mulholland Drive to Porter Ranch. Two more Chabad Houses are going to be opened and a Pierce College Chabad House besides.

Rabbi Einbinder, Associate Director of Chabad of the Valley shared news and thoughts and acknowledged the donors. Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon, Executive Director of Chabad of the Valley gave a fitting introduction to the keynote speaker, Mr. Sol Teichman.

Teichman, businessman, philanthropist, holocaust survivor and mesmerizing public speaker, gave the keynote presentation. He spoke with characteristic passion about his life’s journey and revisited his life story that took him from poverty and despair to prosperity and charity. Teichman’s poignant speech included beautiful stories and two excerpts are presented here.

“As I stand here, it reminds me of the first such event I ever attended – almost 70 years ago. My younger brother, Steven Teichman, olov hasholom, and I had just arrived on the shores of this country as one of the first 200 war-orphans sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt to come to America. After spending some time in a group-home for displaced children in the Bronx, we were enrolled in New York’s Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. Shortly thereafter, we were asked to attend the yeshiva’s annual fund-raising dinner.

“We arrived at the banquet-hall and it took a little while to realize that we were meant to be the main attractions of the evening. You see, the ship that brought us to this country had docked at Pier 86 on a Saturday, and while all of the other passengers could not get off the boat fast enough, Steve and I stayed in the cabin and refused to disembark. Not on Shabbos! Apparently, the Banquet audience that night was curious to see who these Teichman kids were.

“At one point, the banquet organizers asked for one of us to get up and address the crowd. Being that I was older, I stood up at the podium and looked out at this big crowd, eagerly waiting to hear what I had to say. What should I say? What could I say? And I couldn’t speak the language. Suddenly, my mouth opened and I started to sing. I sang a Yiddish song from the “alter heim” – from the Chassidic home I grew up in. I sang softly, but I sang from my heart. When I finished that song, the crowd stood up and erupted in thunderous applause. There was not a dry eye in the house, and believe me, it was not because of my beautiful singing voice.

“What was it then? The only question on people’s minds that night was: “What’s left!?” “What remains of the faith and the Yiddishkeit of all those decimated communities that had been the center of Jewish life for centuries!?” “What’s left of the spirit and the morale of Am Yisroel?” And most of all, “What hope was there for the future of the Jewish People going forward?”

“And here was this boy from Munkacs, who had experienced it all firsthand: the extermination of those he loved and the destruction of the way of life he once knew. This boy, who after going through the ghettos, death camps and death marches – and yet, upon finally being granted his freedom, refuses to get off a boat on Shabbos – now stands before us and sings a Yiddish song of undying faith!

“It was more than just a song… It was a cry from the neshomoh – from the indestructible soul of a Jew – declaring: “Yes, we have suffered terribly! We have lost immeasurably! But we are not broken! We are not dead! We live on!”

Teichman concluded, “On behalf of my family members and all of the six million kedoshim who perished; and on behalf of those of my fellow survivors who have since passed on; I stand before you tonight, asking of you – pleading with you – to take the figurative torches from our hands and pass them on to your children, and see to it that they, in turn, pass it on to their children. Let us always remember that the only true revenge against our enemies of the past and the best defense against our enemies of the present, are more acts of goodness and kindness, more Torah and Mitzvos, more and more light.

“Help your Jewish brothers and sisters in need – wherever in the world they may be. It will bring added joy and blessings into your own lives. Provide one more Jewish child with a Torah education. Invite another guest to your Shabbos table. Write another generous check to charity. Help open a new Chabad center in another part of the Valley. This is how we do it. This is the Jewish way.

“What does the future hold?” you ask. I’m not a Navi. I don’t know any better than any of you what the future holds! But that’s just the point: My answer to that question is the same as your answer. My answer tonight is the same one I gave to that banquet audience back in 1946, except that I made it a lot shorter back then! My answer is “Ani Maamin” – the spirit of the Jewish People, the chain of our heritage – has not, cannot and shall not ever be broken!”