Over the past several months, I had the privilege of curating an exhibit for the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah dinner honoring Rabbi Avi and Toby Weiss which was held Sunday evening. The exhibit featured several aspects of their lives from the personal to the public, giving attendees a look into parts of the couple they may not have seen before.
When people entered the main ballroom where cocktails were served, they were greeted by two banners. The one on the left featured several family photos illustrating the many ways in which Rav Avi and Toby’s children and grandchildren follow in their footsteps through study, social justice, and so much more. The banner to the right highlighted a few of the many rallies and protests Rav Avi organized through the years. This was accompanied by a mannequin dressed in Rav Avi’s prison uniform from one of his many arrests.
Behind the family banner was a world map with color coded pins showing all the places Rav Avi held rallies, offered assistance following terrorist attacks, and comforted people following natural disasters. Near this was the uniform he wore to protest the convent at Auschwitz and his bullet proof vest (below left).
The next section people came to told the story of Rav Avi and Toby’s careful attention to the needs of others. This wall was covered with photographs and personal letters from people who the family had touched over the years. Over the course of the evening, attendees were encouraged to add their own stories to the wall. In the photo to the right above, one gentleman writes his thank you letter to the couple.
Near the back of the room, people encountered a small living room setting with a few of Rav Avi’s favorite things: Yankees and Knicks items, a guitar, Carlebach music, family photos, and memorabilia such as his basketball jersey, Toby’s cheerleading patch, and a sweatshirt from the camp where they met.
In the adjoining room, a wall made of faux cinder blocks told the story of all the organizations Rav Avi founded or guided. Included were the logos, mission statements, and photographs from YCT, Yeshivat Maharat, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, International Rabbinic Fellowship, and Amcha.
I hope that the exhibition gave attendees a fuller appreciation of the Weiss Family and all they do to make a real and lasting impression on individuals they encounter, the community, and the larger world.