Beri Weber, Yossi Lebowitz, and 25 Tantzers Celebrate with Boro Park Bar Mitzvah Boy
By Yehudit Garmaise
What touched Mrs. Tzivia Blank the most about the bar mitzvah celebration Tantzers helped to make for her son Moishe, who has a rare diagnosis, was how the guest interacted with the bar mitzvah boy.
“Yes, this is a child who breathes on a ventilator and sits in a wheelchair, but he is a person, and this was his simcha, and all the guests looked at Moishe, who knows what is going on, as a person with dignity,” said Mrs. Blank with gratitude. “That was the most beautiful part because they were not celebrating with him like he doesn’t know what is going on.
“Moishe is not able to walk or talk, but he communicates with his eyes, smiles, and his facial expressions. No one looked at him like he is not ‘there,’ and all that.
“Our guests all wanted to be there, and they know that Moishe comprehends everything.
“That was the most beautiful part of it. The love in the air was tremendous.”
When Tzivia and Aryeh Blank were first planning a bar mitzvah celebration for Moishe, they thought they would make a small party with family, friends, and some music.
Little did they know that they would end up making a simcha at which 200 guests, including 25 Tantzers’ volunteers, would be dancing for an hour and a half straight with their son, as none other than Beri Weber and Yossi Lebowitz sang their hearts out at Sisu v’Simchu Hall on 18th Avenue on Monday night.
The Blanks’ good friend Reb Sholi Rosenblum, who partners with the Tantzer’s founder Zelig Freidman, said he wanted to help make Moshe’s simcha extra special.
Rosenblum’s brother, Alexander Zisha Rosenblum originally founded Tantzers with Freidman.
After Alexander Zisha, however, was seriously injured in a terrible car accident, Sholi stepped in and partnered with Friedman to carry out the Tantzers’ holy work.
As additional zchusim for the speedy and complete recovery of his brother, who remains in a coma after the crash that occurred while he was traveling home after dancing with the Tantzers at an event in Monsey, Sholi also founded additional chessed initiatives like Tenchiuch and Lehasigneg.
Referring to Rosenblum as “Reb Sholi,” and calling him a tzaddik, Mr. Blank recounted how the Tantzers added immeasurable joy to the simcha of his son’s bar mitzvah party last Monday.
Without the ability to speak, Moishe could not make brachos on the Torah layning, so instead, Mr. Blank positioned his son at the aron kodesh, so that he could do poseicha.
Instead of handshakes for each zayde, uncle, and cousin who received aliyos, Moishe smiled his “yasher koach” to communicate with each relative who was honored.
After davening, many Boro Park community members helped out by bringing herring, hot kugel, and many other treats to make a beautiful kiddush attended by up to 70 friends.
Dozens of volunteer singers over the years, such as Matt Levin, however, have come over to the Blanks’ home to sing for Moishe, whose eyes light up and who smiles when he hears Yiddishe music.
In fact, Moishe’s favorite toy is a karaoke machine that comes complete with flashing lights and a disco ball, which inspired Friedman to replicate that experience at the simcha.
“Friedman brought three different major disco lights, blinking lights, and everything was, ‘Wow!’” Mr. Blank recalled, noting that Sruli Glassman also brought many fun balloons.
While Freidman said that he cannot recall ever seeing such a high level of simcha and inspiration at an event, the person who most appreciated the Tantzers’ efforts was Moishe.
“When he is stimulated, he really flourishes,” said Mrs. Blank, who shared her husband’s sentiment that her son serves as a chizzuk to others, rather than be a source of rachamanis.
Among the guests who were thrilled to celebrate with Moishe were his many friends from Camp Migdal and elsewhere, and 20 seminary girls who, over the years, have volunteered b’simcha to help the Blank family and befriend Moishe.
“Everyone wanted to share in the simcha,” said Mrs. Blank, who explained that she and her husband see their son as a normal boy.
“Just like somebody might need glasses, Moishe has different physical problems than everybody else,” said Mrs. Blank, who said she, her husband, and all of their guests are still “on a high” from Moishe’s bar mitzvah.
Although the bar mitzvah was amazing, the Blanks wanted to reiterate that they never will give up on their children.
They even take comfort that Moshe’s diagnosis is rare because the lack of research on the condition gives them more hope for the future.
“We want to encourage anyone facing challenges to stay hopeful, and we also want to m’chazzik anyone who wants to can get involved in chesed of any kind.
“Anyone can do anything that he or she wants to do.”