For the week ending 19 November 2016 / 18 Heshvan 5777

Chaim Lichtenstein

by Rabbi Shlomo Simon
Library Library Library

Age: 52
BS NYU Stern School of Business; Accounting Major
Riverdale, New York

President and CEO of Andrew Lichtenstein, Inc. Commercial Real Estate Investments Sales and Mortgage Financing

Biblical names adorn many cities and towns throughout the United States. This is due, no doubt, to the early influence of the Pilgrims and other religious groups who were predominant in settling early America. Chaim grew up in one — Jericho, New York, a NYC suburb in Nassau County on Long Island.

Chaim’s father, Gedalia, whom we wrote about in a recent @Ohr article in Ohrnet Magazine, was a successful businessman. Born and raised in Brooklyn with its run-down and crowded city streets, Gedalia moved the family to the green, suburban, tree-lined suburbs of Jericho, Long Island after Chaim was born.

Chaim was an athletic youth and while at Jericho High School was a varsity baseball and soccer player. He went to college at NYU where he was a student delegate, a member of the Water Polo Club and a competitive swimmer — making it to the New York State championships. Encouraged by his father, he even earned a tryout with a professional baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. He graduated from NYU in 1986.

Chaim also co-founded the Real Estate Investment Society at NYU. Among other accomplishments, he organized a symposium with two of New York’s billionaire real estate landlords: Seymour Durst and Larry Silverstein (who later bought the World Trade Center). Chaim was very motivated and eager to start his real estate career. While he was a senior in college, although he had no starting capital, he bought, flipped and sold an apartment building in Brooklyn. Chaim went on to buy and sell 25 apartment buildings in New York City, after which he made enough money to buy and hold his own real estate investment portfolio.

His career was launched and success followed success, however, something was missing.

At about this time, his father, Gedalia, ob’m, an ardent Zionist, had made aliyah. Always a truth seeker, he had found his way to Ohr Somayach. Not wanting to keep the secret of his spiritual enlightenment to himself, he shared it with Chaim, and strongly suggested that his son take a break and look into Yiddishkeit for himself.

Convinced that money and material success wasn’t everything, Chaim dropped his deal-making and decided to try Yeshiva for a few weeks. He came to Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem, and those few weeks turned into months. He studied with Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz, Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb, Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair and other Rabbis in the Yeshiva. Realizing that “It’s not good for man to be alone” he started his search for his ezer knegdo,and found her in Tatiana, from Santiago, Chile, a student at a seminary for Spanish speakers in Jerusalem. Tatiana’s sister Devorah had also become a ba’alat teshuva. Chaim and Tatiana got married in Jerusalem (this writer was their mesader kiddushin) and lived there for a while. They eventually returned to New York, and to the real estate business, and now live in a beautiful house on the Palisades, overlooking the Hudson River in Riverdale, New York — a vibrant Jewish Community. They have four children, who are all excelling in Jewish Day Schools in New York. Chaim has regular sedarim and chavrutot (Torah study sessions and study partners). He finished Shas a few years ago and is now doing chazara (review). Their dream is to eventually return to Eretz Yisrael.

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