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JCC throws biggest and most successful Annual Meeting & Gala

Photo of guests seated for brunch during the JCC's 2017 Annual Meeting & Gala.

The most people in attendance. The most donors. The most amount of money raised. And the feeling you get following a successful event? Priceless. Those were the takeaways from the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center’s 154th Annual Meeting & Gala held on Sunday, June 4, at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia. Over 230 supporters came out to celebrate the JCC of Syracuse and help honor its award recipients for all that they’ve done for the JCC and the community.

“The wonderful show of support that our gala received this year was truly phenomenal,” said JCC of Syracuse Executive Director Marci Erlebacher. “It was so touching to celebrate another fantastic lineup of honorees and their selfless accomplishments. After all that the JCC has been through at the start of this year, we are humbled by outpouring of generosity from our sponsors, donors and guests for this year’s event.”

The Wladis Companies were recognized as this year's JCC gala naming sponsor. Accepting the special recognition was Steve Wladis (center) pictured with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
The Wladis Companies were recognized as this year's JCC gala naming sponsor. Accepting the special recognition was Steve Wladis (center) pictured with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

This year’s gala theme, “Flavors of the Mediterranean,” was artfully executed in the Va’ad supervised brunch catered by the JCC’s Chef Donna Carullo. Following a brief JCC board of director’s business meeting, it was time to put the spotlight on those being recognized.

A total of six awards were to be presented this year, although five were ultimately handed out. Robert and Diane Miron, one of this year’s Hall of Fame Award recipients, were unable to attend the gala because of Robert’s recent illness. Fortunately, he’s doing well now and making a good recovery. Stay tuned for a future date to honor the Mirons, who are long-time supporters of both the JCC and the local Jewish community, and present them with their award.

Pictured from left is Lynne Romano, JCC of Syracuse Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Joe Romano. The Romanos were recognized during the gala for their generous contribution recently which resulted in the renaming of the JCC summer camp to the JCC Camp Joe and Lynne Romano.
Pictured from left is Lynne Romano, JCC of Syracuse Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Joe Romano. The Romanos were recognized during the gala for their generous contribution recently which resulted in the renaming of the JCC summer camp to the JCC Camp Joe and Lynne Romano.

Before the awards were given, two special JCC donors were acknowledged for their particularly kind generosity recently. The Wladis Companies, represented by Steve Wladis, was recognized as this year’s gala naming sponsor. The Wladis Companies have been solid supporters of the JCC’s Annual Meeting & Gala for many years. Next, Joe and Lynne Romano were presented with a special plaque recognizing their significant JCC contribution, which resulted in the renaming of the JCC’s summer camp to the JCC Camp Joe and Lynne Romano. The Romanos, founders of the Romano Auto Group, have been very generous with their support for the JCC and throughout the local community.

Pictured is Kovod Award recipient Amy Sumida (center) flanked by JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
Pictured is Kovod Award recipient Amy Sumida (center) flanked by JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

The first award given, the Kovod Award, which signifies honor and importance, was presented to Amy Sumida. A JCC board member for the past five years, Sumida has served on the gala committee in 2012 and then as committee co-chair from 2013–2016. She has also been active in many local organizations such as the Junior League of Syracuse, Meals on Wheels and Person to Person Citizen Advocacy. Sumida and her husband Aaron reside in Jamesville with their children Amanda, Andrea and AJ.

Pictured from left, Ellen and Howard Weinstein address the gala's attendees upon accepting the JCC's Kovod Gadol Award.
Pictured from left, Ellen and Howard Weinstein address the gala's attendees upon accepting the JCC's Kovod Gadol Award.

Next up was the Kovod Gadol Award presented to Howard and Ellen Weinstein. This is the JCC’s highest honor which in Hebrew translates to great honor. The Weinstein’s have been involved with the JCC of Syracuse for nearly four decades. Howard M. Weinstein, MD, was a JCC board member in the late 1990s and then rejoined the board in 2012 as a vice president and executive committee member. Ellen S. Weinstein, Esq., is a former JCC of Syracuse board member. Howard is a practicing physician at Upstate University Hospital’s Community Campus and also the hospital’s division chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; as well as president of the Upstate Medical University’s medical staff. Ellen currently is the chief clerk of the Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court and vice president of the NYS Association of Chief Clerks of Surrogate’s Courts. Howard currently serves as president of the Syracuse Community Hebrew School and is on the board of Advocates, Inc. Ellen is currently vice president and Allocation Committee co-chair for the Jewish Federation of CNY, and is on the boards of Advocates, Inc., Menorah Park, Menorah Park Foundation, Syracuse Jewish Family Service and Syracuse Hebrew Day School. The Weinsteins have four children: Jessica and Gregg Rosh, Josh and Caroline Weinstein, Danielle, and Lisa; and seven grandchildren: Jamie, Sydney, Carly, Max, Ava, Tessa, and Evan. Jessica is a past JCC Kovod Gadol Award recipient.

The Hall of Fame Awards were then presented to Linda Alexander and posthumously to Phil Holstein. This award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have dedicated themselves to the Syracuse Jewish community and to the advancement of the JCC.

Pictured from left is Hall of Fame Award honoree Linda Alexander, JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
Pictured from left is Hall of Fame Award honoree Linda Alexander, JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

Linda Alexander is president/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Central New York and current and founding executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of CNY. She recently announced that she’ll be retiring in the fall and moving out of the area to be closer to family. Alexander is a leadership pioneer for local women, having served as president of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas and the Federation’s chairwoman of its Annual Campaign. She also received the Community Endowment Excellence Award, given by United Jewish Communities. Alexander and her husband Steven have three children and five grandchildren, who all live on the West Coast.

One of this year's Hall of Fame Award honorees, Phil Holstein, was recognized posthumously for being an incredibly selfless individual and true philanthropist. Accepting the award on Phil's behalf was his family. Pictured, starting second from left, is Phil's wife Alyse and children Erin and Greg Pictured, flanked by JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
One of this year's Hall of Fame Award honorees, Phil Holstein, was recognized posthumously for being an incredibly selfless individual and true philanthropist. Accepting the award on Phil's behalf was his family. Pictured, starting second from left, is Phil's wife Alyse and children Erin and Greg Pictured, flanked by JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

Phil Holstein, who passed away last fall, was an incredibly selfless individual. A former Jewish Federation of Central New York board president, he was a true philanthropist, community and business leader, and outdoorsman. Holstein is survived by his wife, Alyse, and children Erin and Greg.

Holstein had the incredible gift of being able to bring together diverse parts of the community and approach sensitive issues with kindness and fairness. “In addition to caring about every aspect of the Jewish Community, Phil cared about the whole community,” said Alyse Holstein. He was a compassionate peacemaker, always wanting everyone to be included and feel engaged.”

Alex and Charlotte “Chuckie” Holstein had a tremendous influence on their son, Phil. Both Alex and Chuckie have been a positive force in Central New York. They have generously given of their time and talents for many years, for which they were recognized by receiving the JCC’s Hall of Fame Award in 2014.

“Phil had very strong Jewish roots and just loved bringing people together,” said Chuckie Holstein. “He was a very honorable and ethical person. He had tremendous integrity and was an extremely positive person. He always looked on the bright side and knew that there were two sides to every story.”

'The Leslie' Award, which is named after Leslie London Neulander and recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and to the local community, was presented to Todd Pinsky (pictured second from right) this year. Also pictured, from left, is JCC Board President Steven Sisskind, Todd's wife Sarah and JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher.
"The Leslie" Award, which is named after Leslie London Neulander and recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and to the local community, was presented to Todd Pinsky (pictured second from right) this year. Also pictured, from left, is JCC Board President Steven Sisskind, Todd's wife Sarah and JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher.

This year’s Leslie Award, the second to be given since being introduced last year, was presented to attorney Todd J. Pinsky, president and managing partner of the law firm Pinsky & Skandalis, P.C., which was founded by his grandfather, Norman Pinsky, in 1935. “The Leslie” recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and to the local community—the qualities which the award’s namesake, Leslie London Neulander, personified throughout her many selfless volunteer pursuits.

Pinsky dedicates his time to several local Jewish organizations which serve children and seniors and help strengthen our community’s strong culture and traditions. He is a board member with the Jewish Federation of CNY, where he is on the community relations committee in addition to serving as the security liaison between the Federation and the JCC of Syracuse. Pinsky is also on the boards of Menorah Park, Syracuse Jewish Cemeteries Association and Temple Concord. He and his wife Sarah reside in Manlius with their two young children, Charlotte and Nathan.

The JCC of Syracuse’s Annual Meeting & Gala is the center’s largest and most important annual fundraiser. This year’s event proceeds, as in the past, will provide significant funding for scholarships to individuals in the JCC’s early childhood, after school, summer camp and senior programs.

For information about supporting the JCC of Syracuse, contact Erin Hart at 315-445-2040, ext. 112, or ehart@jccsyr.org.

The JCC of Syracuse, located on Thompson Rd. in DeWitt, was established in 1861 and is the second oldest JCC in North America. It offers a range of quality programs and services for all ages, including infant/toddler care, pre-school, before and after school care and vacation camps for school-age children, summer day camps, teen social and fitness programs, a sports and fitness center, outdoor heated pool and swimming lessons during the summer, adult programming, and services for seniors including a senior kosher meal program.

 

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