Former Vice President Joe Biden Honored at Jewish Museum Gala

Vice President Joe Biden seated with Ron Rubin, co-chair of the gala committee and a presenting sponsor.

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) honored Vice President Joe Biden at the museum’s annual Only in America Gala, held at The Bellevue Philadelphia on April 24. [Read more…]

Party With a Purpose: Cancer Research

Keatings with Nydia Han sitting at banquet table..

Dan and Sarah Keating with Nydia Han.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) was once again the beneficiary of the annual Party with a Purpose fundraiser, with over 450 guests attending the event this fall. Dan and Sarah Keating received the Humanitarian Award for their dedication to cancer research. Dr. Stephen Rubin, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, was awarded the Scientific Achievement Award. Nydia Han, a newscaster with TV station 6abc, served as emcee. Beverly Goldberg, co-chair of the gala, announced that funds raised this year would go toward the research and treatment of ovarian cancer. [Read more…]

Michael Steinhardt: Keynote Speaker at Barrack Hebrew Academy

unnamedHow do we ensure the continuation of the Jewish people? This is the question that consumes Michael Steinhardt. Mr. Steinhardt is this year’s keynote speaker at the Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy’s gala.

Michael Steinhardt’s connection to Philadelphia began with his education at Penn, where he earned a degree from Wharton. After making his fortune on Wall Street, Mr. Steinhardt decided to focus full time on his passion for the Jewish world. He created the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. Among many other initiatives, he was one of the founders of Birthright.

Mr. Steinhardt sees a bifurcation in the American Jewish community today. “Virtually 100% of Orthodox students attend day school,” he said. “Among the non-Orthodox Jews, attendance is between 5% to 10%.” He would love to see more non-Orthodox Jewish students getting a really excellent education in day schools. It is his fervent hope that the future generations of Jews will care about Judaism and Israel, and will be able to express this in fluent Hebrew!

“The Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy is a shining light,” Mr. Steinhardt told me. “It is an example for all the other Jewish schools to emulate.”

March 9, 2016
Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue | 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

  • 5:30 p.m. Cocktails & Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. Program
  • 8:15 p.m. Dessert

Purchase gala tickets.

FIDF Gala to Feature Former Israeli Head of Intelligence

500px-AmosYadlin— by Ryan Greiss

More than 800 leaders from the Jewish community will gather on Monday, Oct. 26 for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Chapter Annual Gala at the Crystal Tea Room to support the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The evening, which has become one of the local Jewish community’s largest events, will feature a keynote speech by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin, a 40-year IDF veteran and Israel’s former Chief of Defense Intelligence. Yadlin, who is now director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, will address the new wave of terror that is crashing down on Israel, where stabbing and shooting attacks are being reported hourly.

Also speaking will be wounded IDF veteran and Paralympic medalist Noam Gershony.  Six years before winning the gold medal for wheelchair tennis at the 2012 London Paralympics, Gershony’s Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter crashed in Lebanon, killing his co-pilot and severely wounding the future champion.

“After my injury I wondered, why did I survive? I used to be able to fly an Apache and now I can barely walk up four steps. That’s when I decided never to let myself become depressed — no matter what the situation,” said Gershony. “Now I know that I’m a very lucky guy: I fell 6,000 feet to what should have been my death, and I rose again.”

Co-chairing the gala and the dinner are Dr. Zeff Lazinger and Shelly and Jerry Abramson. Presiding as the evening’s master of ceremonies will be Rabbi Gregory Marx.

“It is especially important in these times that communities in the U.S. and around the world show support for Israel,” said FIDF donor Marcy Gringlas. “That support for Israel includes recognizing and honoring the brave women and men who protect Israel. It is our privilege to attend and to contribute to this event.”

Other distinguished guests will include active-duty IDF Lone Soldiers from the Philadelphia area 1st Lt. Eric and Cpl. Matthew, and FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Executive Director Tzvia Wexler.

“Were it not for the Israel Defense Forces, we would not have the State of Israel,” said Wexler. “While they look after Israel, it is our job to look after them.”

The evening will begin with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m. and the program at 7:45 p.m. The funds raised at this event will go toward FIDF well-being and educational programs for IDF soldiers.

Philadelphia FIDF Gala to Honor Holocaust Survivors

Left to right: Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, executive director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern N.J. region, Tzvia Wexler, and Ambassador Ron Prosor in last year’s national FIDF gala, New York.

Local Holocaust survivors and their families will be honored at this year’s Annual Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) Gala.

The gala will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, November 18, 2013 at Vie, 600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased at the gala’s website. Holocaust survivors who wish to take part may contact FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern N.J. executive director, Tzvia Wexler.

The theme of this year’s Gala is “From Holocaust to Independence,” and it will celebrate Israel’s 65 years of existence by saluting the survivors and remembering the struggles they overcame to build new lives, providing a future for the next generation.  

Former chief of the IDF general staff, Lt. General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, will deliver an exclusive Keynote address.

More after the jump.
The FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the men and women of the IDF. Today, FIDF has more than 120,000 supporters, and 17 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama.

Prior to being appointed as the IDF’s chief of staff in 2007, Lt. General Ashkenazi has had an illustrious military career, that included:

  • Commander of Golani Brigade,
  • commander of liaison unit to Lebanon,
  • operations officer of Northern Command,
  • head of Israeli Northern Command, and
  • director general of Israeli Ministry of Defense.

In 2008, he was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on behalf of the President of the U.S. for enhancing U.S.-Israel relations.  

$27 Million Raised at FIDF National Gala Dinner

— by Jen Glantz

$27 million was raised Tuesday night at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner where over 1,400 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country gathered at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to demonstrate their love and support for the soldiers of Israel. FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark was the chair of the Gala, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

A special delegation from the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region participated in the Gala event. Among the delegation members was the Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler.

More after the jump.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National President, Julian Josephson; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; Israeli-American luxury fashion designer, Elie Tahari; President of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine and his wife, Mindy; American real estate tycoon and media proprietor, Mort Zuckerman; and American sex therapist, media personality, and author, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Left to right: Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler, Ambassador Ron Prosor

One of the evening’s outstanding guests was Cpt. Ziv Shilon, a 25-year-old commander of the Givati Brigade, who just a couple of months ago was badly injured in a Hamas attack near the Gaza security fence, when an explosive device went off. Cpt. Shilon was also joined at the Gala by more than 30 soldiers and officers from various IDF units as well as soldiers from the United States Armed Forces, including Maj. Justin Constantine, a wounded U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Notable among the donations were $5 million pledged by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; $1 million pledged by the Genesis Philanthropy Group; $130,000 pledged by Elie Tahari; $100,000 pledged by Mort Zuckerman; $1.08 million pledged by FIDF National Board Member, Harry Gross; and $1.3 million pledged by National Board Member and Young Leadership Chairman Tony Felzen on behalf of FIDF NY Young Leadership. The Major League Baseball and the Yankee Foundation purchased dinner sponsorships.

The evening culminated with the heartfelt words shared by bereaved mother, Nelly Barak, who tragically lost her son, Hanan Barak Z”L, who was a tank commander, in 2006. Hanan and another soldier were killed when a group of terrorists fired an RPG at his tank and then abducted his soldier, Gilad Shalit, that was released last October after five years of captivity by Hamas in Gaza.

The funds raised during the evening will provide services like academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, financial support for soldiers in-need and Lone Soldiers from around the world, weeks of rest and recreation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities. The evening was an opportunity to pay tribute to the State of Israel and to send a message of love and support to the brave men and women in uniform.

FELS Recognizes Twelve Honorees at Gala

Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) recently recognized the dedication of 12 honorees at its 100th birthday celebration at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The 2011 gala honorees were: Sandra Axelrod, Ellen Kolodner, David Pudlin, Scott Barsky, Robert Clair, Mary Bert Gutman, Rita Lifson, Kay Lokoff, Ronald Perilstein, Gail Rosenberg, Charlotte Rosenthal and Joyce Straus, who was honored posthumously. The 12 honorees, have been an integral part of FELS’ growth and development. Each received well-deserved praise at the “Love Our Kids” Gala on June 6, 2011.

FELS has provided quality child care and early education services to residents of the Philadelphia region for 100 years. Since its inception, FELS has expanded to eight centers and three public school sites and now serves more than 1,000 students yearly. The local centers are: the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in Ambler; the Mary Bert Gutman Early Learning Center in Melrose Park; Kol Ami Nursery School in Elkins Park; Kehillah Early Learning Center in Wallingford; K’tonton School for Young Children in Broomall; and Buerger Early Learning Center, Samuel Paley Early Learning Center and Lassin Early Learning Center, all located in Philadelphia.

More after the jump.
The Gift of Giving

Each of the 12 honorees were recognized for the time and financial resources they have devoted so that the children and family served by FELS could have better opportunities, economic self-sufficiency and an understanding of what it means to be Jewish. These esteemed individuals, and their commitment to FELS, are detailed below:

Sandra Axelrod, Elkins Park, has been actively involved with FELS for 20 years, serving as board chair, vice president and gala chair. She is also a past gala honoree. Axelrod established the Mom Mom’s Kitchen Fund in memory of her mother, Sophie Solomon.

Ellen Kolodner, Rydal, has spent many years on the FELS board, serving as board chair, first vice president and vice president. She has also served on the Executive, New Business, PR & Marketing, Child Advocacy and Annual Meeting Committees. In total, she has supported FELS for 22 years.

David Pudlin, Bryn Mawr, a 34-year veteran of FELS, became involved with Federation Day Care Services  in 1977 and has worked with the organization ever since. He has been vice president and gala honorary co-chair. Pudlin has served on the Executive, Budget and Finance, Development, Nominating, Personnel Practices, Gala and Ad Book Committees.

Scott Barsky, Dresher, has played a significant role in FELS’ success. With 25 years of dedication to the  nonprofit, he has been board chair, treasurer, gala chair and gala honoree. Barsky has also served on the Executive, Budget and Finance (chair) and Operations Committees. His board presidency was marked by active involvement with the Federation, which enabled him to sustain and strengthen the agency/Federation relationship.

Robert Clair, Longport, NJ, has contributed 33 years to FELS and many hours of volunteer work. He has served as gala chair and has been a gala honoree. He was instrumental in raising funds for the Northern Hebrew Say nursery (renamed Lassin Early Learning Center). Clair later established the Robert and Hope Clair Children’s Environment Fund and helped fund a computer program at the Lassin Center. He is always eager to give the FELS children the best. He said that half his honor belongs to his wife, Hope, who has always been a partner and supporter.

Mary Bert Gutman, Lafayette Hill, is an icon in the FELS community. Her 58 years of dedication and enthusiasm for lending a hand to children has made an impact on everyone at FELS. She has been board chair and a gala honoree. Gutman has served on the Executive, New Business, Programs and Services, Marketing & Public Relations and Development Committees. She is a visionary thinker who has had a profound effect on the agency. “We morphed, we merged, we matured, and now we are reaching 100,” Gutman said. “It has been an incredible journey and I am proud to have participated.”

Rita Lifson, Rydal, an active FELS volunteer for 34 years, has served on the Annual Meeting and Program & Planning Special Events Committees. She also has been the board liaison to the Friends of Samuel Paley Auxiliary. Lifson established the Burton and Rita Lifson Staff Development Fund in memory of her husband.

Kay Lokoff, Philadelphia, became involved with FELS 23 years ago. She and her husband, Fred, founded the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in 1987 to honor their daughter Terri’s memory and her passion for young children and the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, which works to improve the quality of care for all children and child-care teachers. Kay Lokoff has served on the Development Committee and as chair of the Annual Meeting Committee.

Ronald Perilstein, Narberth, an active board member for 15 years, has been board chair, first vice president, gala chair and recording secretary. Perilstein has served on the Executive, Leadership, Operations, Nominating, Human Resources, Gala, and Strategic Planning Committees. He has helped the board to identify and focus on priorities and to take reasonable risks for fulfilling FELS’ mission.

Gail Rosenberg, Elkins Park, a past vice president, gala chair and gala honoree, prides herself on her long-term commitment to FELS. She has devoted more than 38 years to the organization. An early childhood educator, Rosenberg understood the importance of making a long term commitment to FELS. She is credited with identifying and recruiting family and friends for the board whose contributions have been invaluable.

Charlotte Rosenthal, Rydal, has devoted the past 28 years to FELS. She has served as past gala chair and gala honoree. She also has chaired the Annual Meeting, Marketing & PR, Development, Program and Service Committees.

Joyce Straus (deceased), formerly of Rydal, left her positive mark on FELS’ history and contributed to its legacy. She devoted 46 years to the organization that she held close to her heart. Straus was board chair, vice president, treasurer and gala honoree. She served on the Executive, Development, Program & Services, Gala and Ad Book Committees. With her passing, FELS lost a dear friend and advocate.

“These amazing individuals have all given so generously to FELS. They understand that quality child care makes good economic sense and creates the kind of future citizens we all want in our communities,” stressed FELS President and CEO Maddy Malis.

A Night to Remember

More than 300 guests attended FELS’ 100th birthday gala, where the organization paid tribute to its past and celebrated its future through retrospective photos and heart-warming presentations. The event and accompanying tribute book raised $286,000 which will be used to support its commitment to provide “The Best of Everything, From the Beginning” to FELS kids.

About FELS

The history of FELS goes back to 1911 with three nurseries known as the Downtown Hebrew Day Nursery, the Strawberry Mansion Day Nursery and the Northern Hebrew Day Nursery, all located within a 15-mile radius of Center City and all committed to serve working parents.  The nursery leaders were immigrant women familiar with the languages and customs of the families who enrolled their children in these centers. Although the volunteer staff was largely untrained, this did not dilute their dedication and enthusiasm for nurturing the infants, toddlers and preschoolers who were entrusted to their care.  Since its inception, FELS has expanded to eight centers and three public school sites and now serves more than 1,000 students yearly. The local centers are: the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in Ambler; the Mary Bert Gutman Early Learning Center in Melrose Park; Kol Ami Nursery School in Elkins Park; Kehillah Early Learning Center in Wallingford; K’tonton School for Young Children in Broomall; and Buerger Early Learning Center, Samuel Paley Early Learning Center and Lassin Early Learning Center, all located in Philadelphia.