The corner of Somerset Gate and Grenville Avenue in Teaneck was transformed on Sunday morning, June 28, into a joyous venue, hosting a parade of almost 400 cars celebrating 26 years of Rabbi Steven and Karen Pruzansky’s leadership of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. The front lawn of the Pruzansky home was festooned with a giant sign expressing “Thank You” to the Pruzanskys who stood beneath a giant arch of blue and white balloons. Assembled were the Pruzansky family members including children, grandchildren, brother, nieces, nephews and in-laws.
The Sheer Simcha band provided the energetic musical background for the parade of cars, spreading joy and meaning through the lyrics of classic and popular Jewish tunes. The onlookers as well as drivers were “spirited up” by young Netanel Katz wearing an Israeli flag atop his full clown attire. One block down, in front of CBY, a large Nefesh B’Nefesh sign was positioned to wish the Pruzanskys an “Aliyah Tovah.”
The parade of vehicles commenced with three local police cars, three TVAC ambulances and a fire truck, and then the line of CBY well-wishers began passing by. Some drivers briefly exited their cars to dance, properly socially distanced, of course, with the rabbi and rebbetzin. Others were photographed in their cars with the Pruzanskys nearby. Rabbi Ari Zahtz and Rebbetzin Michal shared a spirited dance with the Pruzanskys, as did Rabbis Yuddin, Rothwachs and Baum. Young CBY staffers, organized by Rabbi Jonathan Schachter and Rivka and Yehoshua Szafranski, wearing T-shirts bearing the message “We will miss you Rabbi Pruzansky,” distributed water and Nefesh B’Nefesh cookies to the onlookers.
Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin wished the Pruzanskys much success, health and happiness upon their move to Israel on June 30, noting that he would be leaving the mayorship one day later, on July 1. The mayor thanked Deputy Mayor Mark Schwartz, Deputy Mayor Elie Katz and Joey Bodner for their help in organizing the day and their friendship throughout his term. He concluded that he was sure he would not miss being told what to do as mayor just as Rabbi Pruzansky would not miss being told what to do by his congregants.
Rabbi Pruzansky expressed his and Karen’s overwhelming feelings of gratitude for this warm and festive send-off. He said he looked upon his leadership of CBY as the “best job in America” and praised Teaneck as a model for Jewish communities throughout the world. He urged the community to always have an eye toward Zion as we learn from the pasuk in Yeshayahu 52:8: Ki ayin b’ayin yiru b’shuv Hashem tzion; ”For they shall see eye to eye the Lord returning to Zion.” He assured the crowd that they would be hearing more from him in the coming three weeks.
Neighbor Joey Bodner praised the Pruzanskys as the best neighbors one could hope for. Ethan Keiser, president of CBY, credited Rabbi Pruzansky as the individual who most shaped his life as he was growing up in Teaneck, and now that he resides here with his wife and children, Rabbi Pruzansky has continued to have a significant influence on him.
The chairpersons of the festive farewell event, Gabbai Rishon Chaim Kiss and Dr. Doron Katz, were assisted by a committee including Barbara Frolich, Gila Weinstein, Hadassah Goldberg and Sandra Lerer. Scheduled to end at noon, the line of cars continued way beyond the hour and the spirit remained alive throughout.
Rabbi Steven and Karen Pruzansky will be moving to the central Israeli city of Modi’in where they will be happily received by family and many former Teaneckers.
By Pearl Markovitz