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JCC's sold out 2018 Gala a big-time celebration

Photo of guests seated for brunch during the JCC's 2018 Annual Meeting & Gala.

The Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse does things in a big way. Whether it’s childcare, cutting-edge fitness facilities, summer camp or programs for seniors, the JCC is constantly striving for excellence. So it’s no surprise that this year’s 155th Annual Meeting & Gala, presented by naming sponsor The Wladis Companies, was one of the center’s biggest and most successful to date.

The sold-out event, held on Sunday, June 3, at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia, drew over 260 people. Supporters came together to celebrate the JCC and honor a large slate of award recipients, all while enjoying an authentic New York-style deli brunch catered by Essen New York Deli from Brooklyn.

Standing from left, JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher presents a special recognition award to Cheryl and Irv Schotz as JCC Board President Steven Sisskind looks on. Seated and looking on, from left, is JCC Board Member Phil Rubenstein and Major Philip Rougeux with the New York State Police. The Schotz's started the Michele Schotz Foundation, a reading and tutoring support program for local children which will be used by the JCC, in memory of their daughter.
Standing from left, JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher presents a special recognition award to Cheryl and Irv Schotz as JCC Board President Steven Sisskind looks on. Seated and looking on, from left, is JCC Board Member Phil Rubenstein and Major Philip Rougeux with the New York State Police. The Schotz's started the Michele Schotz Foundation, a reading and tutoring support program for local children which will be used by the JCC, in memory of their daughter.

“We are so fortunate to have such wonderful support from our community, which has allowed us to make this year’s celebration one of the biggest yet,” said JCC of Syracuse Executive Director Marci Erlebacher. “The fantastic lineup of honorees this year is even more meaningful as we also recognized the law enforcement agencies that assisted us through last year’s bomb threats. We are so appreciative of wonderful support from this year’s sponsors, guests and donors.”

The JCC's Executive Director Marci Erlebacher (left) and Board President Steven Sisskind (far right) are pictured with Kovod Award recipient Donna Lipton.
The JCC’s Executive Director Marci Erlebacher (left) and Board President Steven Sisskind (far right) are pictured with Kovod Award recipient Donna Lipton.

Following a brief business meeting where the JCC board of directors installed its new and returning board members, as well as its officers, it was on to the awards portion.

But first, before the full slate of Gala awards were presented, a special recognition award was given to Irv and Cheryl Schotz for starting the Michele Schotz Foundation in memory of their loving daughter. The foundation is giving the JCC funds to start a reading and tutoring program in Michele Schotz’s name to help children in the JCC’s After School Program excel from “caterpillar to butterfly” in literacy.

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

The JCC Gala awards program followed and the Kovod Award, which signifies honor and importance, was presented to Donna Lipton and Lynne Della Pelle Pascale.

Lipton recently retired after 15 years of volunteering at the JCC as a senior exercise class instructor. Pascale, a JCC of Syracuse board member since 2013, has served as gala committee chairperson. She also is the owner of Farmer Street Pantry, a local specialty food business.

It was a special moment when law enforcement was recognized with the Kovod Gadol Award during the JCC Gala. Pictured from left is Trooper Brian DeRochie, New York State Police; Investigator Benjamin Scalise, New York State Police; Major Philip Rougeux, New York State Police; Onondaga County Undersheriff Jason Cassalia; Michael DuBois, FBI; Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway; Janelle Miller, FBI; Captain Chase Bilodeau, Town of DeWitt Police; Jewish Federation of Central New York Security Liaison Susan Case DeMari; Chief John Anton, Town of DeWitt Police; JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher; and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
It was a special moment when law enforcement was recognized with the Kovod Gadol Award during the JCC Gala. Pictured from left is Trooper Brian DeRochie, New York State Police; Investigator Benjamin Scalise, New York State Police; Major Philip Rougeux, New York State Police; Onondaga County Undersheriff Jason Cassalia; Michael DuBois, FBI; Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway; Janelle Miller, FBI; Captain Chase Bilodeau, Town of DeWitt Police; Jewish Federation of Central New York Security Liaison Susan Case DeMari; Chief John Anton, Town of DeWitt Police; JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher; and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

Next up was the Kovod Gadol Award, the JCC’s highest honor which in Hebrew translates to great honor. This year’s awards were presented to those instrumental in keeping the JCC safe during and after last year’s bomb threats. The recipients were Susan Case DeMari, Jewish Federation of Central New York security liaison; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); New York State Police; Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office; Town of DeWitt Police Department; and Centro.

Standing from right after receiving the Kovod Gadol Award is Centro's CEO Rick Lee and Centro Board Chairman Brian Schultz. Also pictured standing, from left, is JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.
Standing from right after receiving the Kovod Gadol Award is Centro's CEO Rick Lee and Centro Board Chairman Brian Schultz. Also pictured standing, from left, is JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and JCC Board President Steven Sisskind.

DeMari is a senior attorney adjudicator/attorney advisor with the Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. As the volunteer security liaison with the Jewish Federation of Central New York, DeMari is the designated community contact for federal, state, county, local and university law enforcement agencies in CNY on behalf of the Jewish community. The law enforcement agencies noted above each played an important role in responding to and investigating last year’s threats. And Centro provided busing for JCC staff and children to its offsite evacuation area during the incidents.

Pictured standing, from right, is Nomi Bergman introducing last year's Hall of Fame Award recipients Bob and Diane Miron as JCC Board President Steven Sisskind and Executive Director Marci Erlebacher look on. The Miron's were unable to attend last year's gala to receive their award as Bob Miron was ill.
Pictured standing, from right, is Nomi Bergman introducing last year’s Hall of Fame Award recipients Bob and Diane Miron as JCC Board President Steven Sisskind and Executive Director Marci Erlebacher look on. The Miron’s were unable to attend last year’s gala to receive their award as Bob Miron was ill.

“It was truly fitting to recognize all who ‘had our back’ during such a trying time last year,” said Erlebacher. “We got through it and now our programs are on the upswing and doing very well.”

Next was the Hall of Fame Award, which recognizes and celebrates individuals who have dedicated themselves to the Syracuse Jewish community and to the advancement of the JCC. The first award, which was unable to be given last year, was presented to Bob and Diane Miron. The Mirons couldn’t attend last year’s Gala because of Bob Miron’s illness. He’s since made a great recovery and the Miron’s looked great as they graciously accepted their award.

Pictured is Hall of Fame inductee Shelly Kruth (center) flanked by his grandchildren Samantha Wheeler and Bryce Wheeler, along with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Neil Bronstein.
Pictured is Hall of Fame inductee Shelly Kruth (center) flanked by his grandchildren Samantha Wheeler and Bryce Wheeler, along with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Neil Bronstein.

This year’s Hall of Fame Awards were then presented to Sheldon “Shelly” Kruth and Marilyn Pinsky. Kruth is a managing partner with the public accounting firm D’Arcangelo and Co. As a child, he attended the JCC summer camp and participated in other JCC programs. His connection to the JCC continued as an adult serving on the JCC’s board, where he served as board president from 1981-1982, co-chaired the fund-raising committee for the Holocaust Library, and co-chaired the committee for the Fitness Center addition. After serving 13 years as commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth, Pinsky retired from a 36-year career in county government. She is an active member of Friends of the Central Library (FOCL), Jewish Community Foundation of Central New York and National Council of Jewish Women.

Pictured is Hall of Fame inductee Marilyn Pinsky with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Board President Steven Sisskind.
Pictured is Hall of Fame inductee Marilyn Pinsky with JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher and Board President Steven Sisskind.

Finally, this year’s Leslie Award, the third to be given since being introduced in 2016, was presented to Carolyn Weinberg, coordinator of PJ Library® in CNY, a JCC of Syracuse program. “The Leslie” recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and the local community—the qualities which the award’s namesake, Leslie London Neulander, personified through her many volunteer pursuits. Weinberg has been an active and proud member of the Syracuse Jewish community. A Syracuse native, she also serves as recording secretary for Temple Adath Yeshurun’s executive board and she is active in children, family and young adult programs throughout the community.

The Leslie Award, named after Leslie London Neulander, was presented to Carolyn Weinberg (center) this year. Also pictured, from left, is JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher, Weinberg's daughter Isabella and Weinberg's husband Andy.
"The Leslie" Award, named after Leslie London Neulander, was presented to Carolyn Weinberg (center) this year. Also pictured, from left, is JCC Executive Director Marci Erlebacher, Weinberg's daughter Isabella and Weinberg's husband Andy.

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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