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Friday, February 21, 2020

The Rozehzadeh family understands the privilege of religious freedom. Dr. Joe Rozehzadeh escaped from Iran at the young age of 12, along with his older brother Rabin, and has never taken for granted the opportunities he has been given. Today, Joe, a dentist, and his wife Lori, are grateful for their life in West Orange where together with their children they make sure to incorporate kindness and generosity into their lives.

The idea of helping people was a fundamental value passed down to Joe who continues to spread this message to his own family and to his community. The Rozehzadehs have contributed to their community in many ways, most notably with the establishment of the Zichron Dovid Bikur Cholim, created in memory of Joe’s late father, Dovid Ben Yosef HaKohen, who passed away in 2002.

Zichron Dovid provides resources, aid, housing and comfort to cholim (sick people) and their families in the West Orange area. The Rozehzadehs are blessed with family and friends who have devoted time and money to this initiative and have certainly been instrumental in creating and sustaining this organization. Since its inception, the bikur cholim has expanded tremendously and provides immeasurable help for those who need it.

Rabbi Michoel Parnes has been a rebbe and a role model for Joe since his arrival in America in 1988. Originally learning together at JEC, Rabbi Parnes is now a rebbe at Heichal Hatorah where he invited Joe to observe the inspirational learning happening each day. Upon witnessing the young men intensely learning Torah, Joe, always searching for ways to memorialize his dear father, immediately decided to dedicate a new beis midrash.

“Everything about this represents who my father was and what he believed in,” said Joe. “My father would have delighted in the chance to see young men learning Torah in an open environment where they are free to pursue their Judaism and spiritual growth.”

Rabbi Parnes has been closely connected to the Rozehzadehs for many years and has witnessed the remarkable work they do for others. “The Rozehzadehs dive into giving generously and endlessly for others,” he said. “They are a paradigm of what a Jewish family represents, taking tzedakah and gemilus chesed to a whole new level.”

Helping provide for others and offering care has been an essential part of Joe’s life. These ideals were as paramount to his upbringing as learning to walk and talk. “My father embodied this philosophy, and my mission is to make sure I, and my family, continue the tradition.”

The room has been renovated to provide a beautiful new learning space for the Heichal beis midrash, a post-Israel yeshiva and college program at Heichal HaTorah. Heichal HaTorah high school was founded seven years ago to provide a classic yeshiva education with unsurpassed general studies. Today Heichal has 150 high school talmidim and graduates returning from years of study in Israel.

Beginning this past Elul, Rav Stechler, Heichal’s rosh yeshiva, founded a post-Israel learning program for returning students looking for a small yeshiva environment where talmidim could continue to grow in learning and foster close relationships with their rebbeim. Heichal has partnered with FDU and Lander College for Men to allow these yeshiva students to receive a college degree without ever leaving the Heichal campus. “The boys have expressed a deep appreciation for the space and the learning opportunity they have been offered,” said Joe. With 20 Heichal talmidim in the new yeshiva and college program learning in the Rozehzadeh Beis Medrash from very early in the morning until late into the night, he hopes the space will elevate his father’s neshama and become a key learning center for the Teaneck community at large.

Lori, who has dedicated herself to the project from its onset, making sure every detail was perfect, feels grateful for the chance to help others. “Heichal HaTorah did more for my husband than we did for them,” said Lori, who believes the continuous learning in her father-in-law’s memory is a dream come true for Joe.

The dedication took place on the second day of Chanukah, an ideal time for a chanukas habayis celebration. The morning began with tefillah followed by a live broadcast of JM in the AM with the famous Nachum Segal, a longtime friend of Joe’s who wanted to be a part of this monumental occasion and share it with his daily listeners. Nachum interviewed members of the Rozehzadeh family, Heichal talmidim, Rav Stechler and Rav Moshe Dan Kestenbaum, author of Olam HaMidos and mashgiach of the new program at Heichal.

The dedication included the installation of two mezuzahs hand-picked by Joe and Lori who also provided a beautiful plaque in memory of Davood Rozehzadeh Hakohen as well as a portrait depicting Birkas Kohanim at the Kotel to adorn the new space. The mezuzahs were affixed by both rebbeim of the new beis midrash program, Rav Yitzchak Reichman and Rav Moshe Genack. After celebratory dancing, the students were treated to a decadent breakfast with words of Torah from Rav Parnes, Rav Stechler and Joe, who once again expressed his gratitude to Hashem for enabling him and Lori to make this happen.

“When I was a young boy in Iran I could never have imagined something like this would be possible,” Joe expressed. As the yahrtzeit approaches, Joe hopes this beis midrash will give his father’s neshama an aliyah in shamayim and become a true center of learning for the community.

By Andrea Nissel