On Monday, January 14, former SAR Academy Principal Rabbi Yonah Fuld returned to SAR with his wife, Mary, and other family members to complete and welcome a sefer Torah to SAR Academy. This new Torah was anonymously donated to SAR in memory of alumnus Ari Fuld, HY”D (AC ’87). Academy students and faculty, former Principal Rabbi Joel Cohn, SAR founders Rabbi Yitz and Blu Greenberg, SAR High School Principal Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, Rabbi Avi Weiss and several alumni from the Class of ’87 participated.
After the final letters were written by the sofer, with assistance from selected attendees, SAR students, dressed in their Shabbat best, lined the length of the driveway, cheering, singing, dancing and waving the school’s signature “Bee4Torah” flags. As trumpets blared, students carrying the school’s current sifrei Torah escorted the new Torah under a tallit chuppah embroided with hundreds of names of SAR children.
In SAR style, all the students then gathered around the stairs and central open areas for a special assembly. “Today is very special. We are here to honor and to remember a hero who went to this school, Ari Fuld, z”l,” announced SAR Academy Principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss. “We are here together with his parents, Rabbi Yonah and Mary Fuld. Rabbi Fuld was my principal at SAR. He taught me and so many others what it means to love Medinat Yisrael, and live that dream with his family, just over 25 years ago, by making aliyah.”
Rabbi Krauss continued, “What an honor it is to be able to remember and at the same time, celebrate. That is a hard thing to do.” Krauss clarified to his students, “We are here for a sad reason and we are here for a happy occasion, because we know that Ari stood for loving people, loving Torah and loving Medinat Yisrael. He lived the values of the Torah, and I hope and believe that he would find it meaningful that there will be a Torah at SAR forever, with his name on it, and for us to always be connected to him and to strengthen our connection to Medinat Yisrael.” The students then viewed a video of Ari explaining his support of IDF soldiers and his work with the organization Standing Together.
Representing students, fifth grader Nina Bloom of New Rochelle remarked, “Rabbi Fuld taught my mom and all the students at SAR that SAR is like a big family. We don’t just learn together. We grow together, we laugh together, we are sad together and we celebrate together.” Bloom described that her mother, a year behind Ari, remembers him as being funny, friendly and kind. “It didn’t matter that she was a girl or a year younger than him. Like his father, Ari treated all of SAR like his family.”
Rabbi Fuld then thanked the crowd for this beautiful honor. “There couldn’t be a more fitting memory for our dear Ari than for a sefer Torah to come to SAR Academy; it is everything that he lived for.” Rabbi Fuld than compared this week’s parsha to three themes about Ari. First, he explained that when Pharaoh finally let the Jews leave Egypt, Moshe said that the children and the old people will leave, mentioning the children first. Moshe knew the future of the Jewish people were the children. “That is what our son Ari did. He taught little boys and girls. He taught as many people as he could a love for Am Yisrael, a love for Klal Yisrael and a love for Eretz Yisrael.”
The second theme Fuld relayed was “Ki Chag Hashem Lanu—we are going out to celebrate a chag. Pharaoh had to be shocked that the slaves left smiling, laughing, dancing, like a holiday. That is what we see every day at SAR: happiness, joy, smiles, singing, music and dancing. That is also what Ari did. He made people happy wherever he was.”
The third theme was about the plague of darkness. The real tragedy was brothers didn’t see each other. “That is not what SAR is all about; that is not what Klal Yisrael is all about. The worst thing that can happen is if we don’t see each other, if we don’t help each other. And that is what Ari did. He reached out to Klal Yisrael, especially soldiers, and gave them joy and happiness.”
Fuld concluded, “We have to be happy all of our lives and celebrate the chagim with song, with dances and with happiness. Chag Hashem Lanu. You beautiful children, from 2-year-old nursery up to eighth grade and into the high school are our future. We count on you. Am Yisrael counts on you. Eretz Yisrael counts on you. Medinat Yisrael counts on you. You are our love and you are our future.”
Following Fuld’s remarks, the Monday morning Torah portion was read. Once the Torah was dressed and put away, music and dancing erupted throughout the building. The students were then treated to a special snack of Torah-shaped cookies.
“I think that it was truly a display of Uvacharta B’chaim. Even though the reason for the dedication to Ari was so tragic, we must do something positive and move forward with life, and the Torah gives us those guidelines with which to do so,” explained White Plains resident Hudi Askowitz, a SAR classmate of Ari Fuld. “Ari was all about Torah and spreading the truth about Israel. He spent his life and, ultimately, gave his life defending Torat Am V’Eretz Yisrael.”
By Judy Berger