Family and friends of Rabbi Avraham Schechter said the late community activist has a place in the hearts of a countless number of residents throughout his former Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood, and now the name of the longtime civic leader who died in 2006 has an even more permanent home in the area.
The section of 72nd Drive between 147th and 150th streets was officially renamed Rabbi Avraham Schechter Way during a Tuesday afternoon ceremony attended by dozens of Schechter’s family members and friends and Queens lawmakers. City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) hosted the event.
“He was larger than life,” Flatbush resident Tzvi Schechter said of his father, who moved to Kew Gardens Hills in 1961 and lived on 72nd Drive.
Community Board 8 members unanimously voted to change the name of the street in November 2006, about a month after Avraham Schechter died due to complications from intestinal cancer.
“It’s a tremendous tribute,” said Kew Gardens Hills resident Surry Schechter, Avraham Schechter’s widow. “I’m very, very proud. He put a tremendous effort into this neighborhood. We had a wonderful life together for 48 years.”
Schechter, born in Brooklyn in 1936, was a member of CB 8 for 26 years and the founder and chairman of the Jewish Action Committee and United Yeshiva. He was a member of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, the Queens General Assembly and the JFK Democratic Club. He also served as a clergy liaison to the 107th Police Precinct and was a member of the board of directors of the Queens Valley Homeowners Association.
“I was lucky to be inspired by him,” Gennaro said. “It’s certainly fitting to honor this great man. He touched so many lives.”
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) praised the civic leader she said worked tirelessly on behalf of residents throughout Queens.
“He was such an influential figure in Kew Gardens Hills,” Stavisky said. “He was a voice for people who felt underrepresented or ignored and needed an advocate.”
CB 8 member Marc Haken, who served on the board with Avraham Schechter for more than two decades, said the rabbi was always working to better the area, especially in hard times.
“When the city cut funds years ago to youth and seniors, he and I started the Queens Youth and Senior Funding Corp.,” Haken said. “He educated me on many things. He was very smart and very gentle.”
Tzvi Schechter said his father’s impact has been felt by many people throughout the city — something Avraham Schechter would have been proud of.
“He always said a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” Tzvi Schechter said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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