For the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School’s class of 1994, the 25-year reunion on March 2, was a bittersweet gathering of fellow graduates, to celebrate friendship and also remember Daniella Vogel, who died one week before the event. Daniella had truly believed that she would attend the reunion and, although she was not there in person, her friends reunited to honor her memory.
As more than 50 graduates and their spouses entered the Scott Satran Arena, they experienced a mix of emotions. “Seeing so many of my classmates for the first time in 25 years reminded me how special friendships are. Even though many of us were not in touch we picked up where we left off like nothing ever changed,” said Jennifer Gluck Gardyn, one of the reunion committee chairs and current HAFTR parent. “Everyone really pulled together to make this event an amazing evening that was truly memorable.”
Former HAFTR High Principal Rabbi Zvi Bajnon warmly greeted his former students to the reunion. There was a buffet dinner and sushi station provided by Genadeen Caterers and Oma’s Sushi, graduates enjoyed playing games and making new keepsakes at the HAFTR photo booth. Graduates were asked to fill out a special memory book for Daniella’s family.
“If we want to honor Daniella’s memory, here are just a few lessons that I have learned from her that I humbly share with you: First, tzedaka starts at home — in our own communities,” Greenberg said. “There are many places right here in the Five Towns that can use our help. Like iShine, JCC’s Kadima and Achiezer. Second, no matter who we are, how similar or different, where we came from, or where we’re going, be kind to one another and always offer a lending hand, even to those we may not think need it. And lastly, the obvious: Life can be too damn short and it throws us curveballs. Hug our children and let’s always remember as hard as it is, that even a bad day is still a day that Hashem (God) gave us on this Earth. As our dear teacher Mrs. Becker, of blessed memory, used to say: Gather ye rosebuds while ye may … Carpe diem, Seize the day … Onward and Upward!”
There was a video presentation made by the class of 1994 during their senior year of high school. Ari Zoldan had recorded the senior class, asking where each graduate thought he/she would be in 20 years. As guests were leaving, they were again asked where they thought they would be in another 25 years.