The Sefer Torah was written in honor of Ronald O. “Ari” Perelman on the occasion of his 60th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Mr. Perelman, a world renowned Baal Tzedaka and the billionaire owner of cosmetics giant Revlon made his first visit ever to the camp.
Shortly before 3:00pm, Perelman arrived via helicopter to Sullivan County Airport in Swan Lake, NY which also happens to be the former campgrounds of CGI.
Perelman was greeted @ the airport by Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov his longtime friend and Executive Director of Camp Gan Israel. From the airport Perelman along with Shemtov traveled via Perelman’s waiting Land Rover to Gan Yisroel.
Arriving @ Gan Yisroel, Mr. Perelman was greeted by the 500 k”ah campers, masmidim, yeshivas kayitz and staff members were lined both sides of the blacktop from the entrance of camp until the Shul. Everyone was wearing the brand new camp t-shirts. A visibly moved and beaming Perelman walked through with Rabbi Shemtov, waving to the campers along the way, while everyone sang “Haveinu Sholom Aleichem”.
A giant sign reading “THE REBBE’S “CAMP GAN ISRAEL” WELCOMES MR. RONALD PERELMAN” hung down from the main building. Perelman was overheard saying “it’s the biggest sign I’ve ever seen”.
At the entrance to the main building Mr. Perelman was given his own t-shirt which he then proceeded to put on over his shirt. After he donned the camp shirt everyone gave him a round of applause.
After a couple of minutes, the campers were all seated on benches on the front lawn and the Siyum Sefer Torah began with Sofer Moshe Klein assisting various members of the CGI staff as well as some of the distinguished guest including Cantor Joseph Malavony, Rabbi Benjy Stock & Rabbi Leima Minkowicz and of course Mr. Perelman in filling in the final letters of the Sefer Torah.
During the ceremony Rabbi Shemtov spoke for a few minutes about the great Simcha as well as Mr. Perelman’s philanthropy to the Rebbe, Bais Rivkah etc. Rabbi Shemtov recounted how the Rebbe once told Mr. Perelman that he is his “partner”.
Mr. Perelman was honored with Hagba and then the procession along with live music from Eli Lipsker and lebedik singing and dancing made its way into the Shul for the Atuh Huraysuhs and the joyous Hakofos.
Following the Hakofos, Mr. Perelman got onto the stage and delivered a few words of thanks. Mr. Perelman thanked everyone “not only for the great welcome” but for “the best birthday I’ve ever had” and went on to say that “now that I know the way” to camp “I will see you more often”. His remarks were greeted by loud cheering.
As Mr. Perelman left the Shul, all assembled joined in singing “Kee BeSimcha…”
Just before Mr. Perelman went into his car he stopped into the lobby where rabbi Shemtov showed him the pictures of the Rebbe when the Rebbe came to camp.
During his visit Mr. Perelman was also given a tour of camp by Rabbis Avrohom Shemtov & camp director Rabbi Yossie Futerfas.
B”H it was a wonderful, happy and historic day in camp and a day that will surely be remembered for a longtime to come.
Special thanks to all those who made this historic day possible especially Rabbi Benjy Stock.