Photo Credit: COJO Flatbush

What a day it was for a COJO Flatbush Summer Garden Party! The weather was magnificent – the late spring, early summer sun painting the soft blue sky a glorious tint of gold – and the venue picturesque: the ultra-elegant Club House reception hall of Brooklyn’s historic Dyker Beach Golf Course.


Guests take a stroll on the stunning grounds.


The beautifully prepared tables are ready.

Billed as a celebration of “The 65+ Young at Heart in Our Community,” the event, presented by COJO Flatbush in partnership with the Boro Park Y, gave more than 200 seniors a memorable way to mark the start of summer. The jam-packed program featured informative and inspirational lectures, an audience-participation game show, a superb “Fiddler on the Roof” presentation by an outstanding ensemble of performers brought together specifically for this event by Eve Sicular of Metropolitan Klezmer, and a delectable full-course lunch catered by Events By Dovi. All the while, Singer Shloime Zalmen Perl and musician Shulem Scher provided melodious intervals between the activities and the speakers.

Stopping by to greet the attendees were New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and New York City Council Members Kalman Yeger and Farah Louis, each of whom noted the liveliness of the crowd and praised COJO for its service to the community.

The afternoon kicked off with a lively interactive test-your-knowledge challenge led by game show host and filmmaker Boruch Perlowitz, followed by a presentation on preventive foot care by Dr. David Simon, DPM, podiatric surgery specialist at Mount Sinai Brooklyn. Lunch was served shortly before the renowned lecturer and author Rabbi YY Rubinstein spoke in his witty and insightful style, delivered with his charming Scottish brogue, on the practical application of emunah (faith) in everyday life. A little later the audience listened as the popular motivational speaker and educator Jackie Bitton drew on her life experiences to stress the importance of accepting G-d’s plan for our lives.


Attendees relax and enjoy the show.


COJO Flatbush Social Services Director Shulamis Shapiro addresses the packed hall.


Boruch Perlowitz tests the audience’s knowledge.

If the interactive game show and the uplifting talks got audience members thinking, the “Fiddler on the Roof” production got them singing and dancing, and in some cases shedding a tear or two. Music moves the soul, and anyone who doubts that old truism should have seen the effects the old “Fiddler” favorites – “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “To Life (L’Chaim),” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and more – had on virtually everyone in the reception hall, young in years as well as young at heart. Cheeks turned rosy, slow gaits regained a long-lost step or two, and smiles were contagious as the familiar notes floated across the room.

It was at this point that Boro Park Y Executive Director Ellie Kastel, enthralled by the performance and the exuberant audience reaction, wondered out loud, “How will we ever top this next time?”

The Garden Party was just one of the many services, programs, and special events COJO Flatbush provides for seniors. “We were so happy to be able to have an event like this,” said Social Services Director Shulamis Shapiro. “The location was beautiful, the program top notch, the food delightful – and most importantly, the response from our seniors was gratifying beyond words. They really enjoyed the afternoon; the only ‘complaint’ was that the four hours went by too quickly.”

Podiatric surgery specialist Dr. David Simon speaks on preventive foot care.


Rabbi YY Rubinstein delivers an inspirational talk.


The marvelous “Fiddler on the Roof” ensemble has the audience singing and dancing.

Added COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz, “Bringing seniors out of their homes to socialize is an essential aspect of what we do at COJO. The companionship we provide and the activities we arrange are real lifelines, enabling seniors to feel vital and active.”

Welz and Shapiro credited the Boro Park Y and Executive Director Kastel for what they characterized as “their enthusiastic partnership” in helping make the event such a big success. “We’re so grateful for their commitment and dedication to everything we do together,” said Shapiro.

The scrumptious deserts taste as good as they look.


L-R: COJO Flatbush Board Member Louis Krawiecz, New York City Councilwoman Farah Louis, COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz, New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, City Councilman Kalman Yeger, Boro Park Y Executive Director Ellie Kastel, COJO Flatbush Social Services Director Shulamis Shapiro.

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Jason Maoz served as Senior Editor of The Jewish Press from 2001-2018. Presently he is Communications Coordinator at COJO Flatbush.