2024 JCC’s Annual Meeting & Gala Information

By Erin Hart

The Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse is excited as they prepare to hold their 161st Annual Meeting and Gala sponsored by the Wladis Family. With a new venue, this year’s celebration promises to bring a fresh look for this annual event. The JCC’s largest fundraiser of the year will be held on Sunday, June 2, 2024, 11am – 2pm at Palladian Hall at the Treasury.

Rich history and sophistication are the undertones for this year’s Annual Meeting & Gala. The new venue for this year, Palladian Hall, is located in the historical Onondaga County Savings Bank which is part of the National Register of Historical Places. The space has been renovated to host large events while still keeping its historical charm. 

“We were concerned this past January when we heard that Owera Vineyards would no longer be holding events,” says JCC Executive Director, Marci Erlebacher. “We heard about a new venue opening in Downtown Syracuse, once we saw the inside of Palladian Hall we fell in love. The beautiful venue will bring an exciting new look to our annual event as we honor another outstanding group of honorees.”

This year’s festivities will begin at 11am with a cocktail hour in the upper mezzanine. At 12pm, guests will be ushered to the main event floor for a delicious deli brunch served by none other than Essen New York Deli. Upon the conclusion of brunch, the meeting and awards portion of the afternoon will begin. The JCC will once again feature a video presentation for all honorees being recognized this year.  

The JCC will present four separate awards at this year’s event. Honorees represent a wide range of dedication and support to the JCC and greater Jewish community in Syracuse.

The Kovod Award, which signifies honor and importance, will be presented to JCC board member and Syracuse native, Kathleen Davis. Kathleen attended Nazareth College in Rochester where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Communications. Kathleen married her husband, I. Stephen Davis in 2006. Since then, she has devoted her time to working within the family business, G&L Davis Meat Company. Kathleen has been a member of the JCC board of directors since 2017 and has served on the Annual Meeting & Gala committee since joining the board. She also serves as a trustee for the Vera House Foundation as well as the Junior League of Syracuse.

Portrait of Kathleen Davis

Chaim & Esa Jaffe

The Kovod Gadol Award, which in Hebrew translates to great honor, will be presented to Cantor Esa & Chaim Jaffe. This husband-and-wife team have been longtime and active supporters of the greater Jewish community in Syracuse. Chaim and Esa met in college at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts where they both received their bachelor’s degrees. Esa went on to receive her master’s degree in Jewish Communal Services from Brandeis University and Voice Performance from Syracuse University. She has held many educational roles within the greater Jewish community. She is the current Director of Education at Temple Adath Yeshurun where she has worked for almost 30 years. 

Since receiving his bachelor’s degree, Chaim went on to receive his master’s degree from Buffalo Law School. He spent the last 25 years as a commercial litigator with Scolaro, Fetter, Grizanti & McGough, P.C. This past January, Chaim was appointed Law Clerk to the Honorable Mitchell J. Katz; Federal Magistrate Judge for the US District Court. Chaim served as President of Temple Adath Yeshurun for 15 years. He has also served as Legal Counsel for the JCC for over 20 years. Chaim and Esa have been married for 30 years and have raised four beautiful children: Ari, Shai, Ilana and Jonah. They look forward to the marriage of their eldest son, Ari to Shaina Kaplan in 2025!

Ellen and Howard Weinstein – two individuals who have made their mark through service to the entire Jewish Community – will be inducted into the JCC Hall of Fame this year. 

Ellen and Howard and have been actively involved with the Jewish Community in Syracuse since they moved here in 1978. Howard attended the New York University School of Medicine where he received his medical degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2023, he retired from Upstate Medical Center after working for over 40 years. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the JCC where he also served as Vice President for 11 years. Howard has served as President and Co-President for the Board at Temple Adath Yeshurun and President of the Board for the Syracuse Hebrew Day School. In addition to the local Jewish organizations, Howard also served on numerous committees and councils within the medical community throughout his lifelong career as an OB/GYN.

Prior to moving to Syracuse, Ellen attended the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York where she received her master’s degree in early childhood and Elementary Education with a specialization in reading. She later graduated from the Syracuse University College of Law with her Juris Doctor in 1990. She was a Partner with Pinsky & Skandalis from 1991-2009. In 2009, she was appointed Chief Clerk of the Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court, where she later retired in 2019. She has been a dedicated supporter of many different organizations within the Jewish community in Syracuse, including serving as a member of the board for the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse, Temple Adath Yeshurun and Syracuse Hebrew Day School. She is a past president of the Jewish Federation of CNY and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Jewish Federations of North America

Leah Goldberg

This year’s Leslie Award, the sixth to be given since being introduced in 2016, will be presented to Leah Goldberg. “The Leslie” recognizes a younger up-and-coming professional within the local Jewish community for their outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and the local community, qualities which the award’s namesake, Leslie London Neulander, personified through her many volunteer pursuits.

Leah Goldberg was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She grew up in the halls of the Omaha JCC and was active in USY, BBYO and Camp Herzl. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in communications and history. She moved to Syracuse in 2013 after marrying her husband, Seth Goldberg. She is actively involved with many Jewish organizations in Syracuse, including serving on two Rabbinical search committees, the SHDS Development Committee and is the current co-chair of the ECDP parent committee. She also currently sits on the Jewish Federation of CNY Board and is a member of the National Leadership Cabinet. 

Reservations for the 2024 JCC’s Annual Meeting & Gala can be made below, or by filling out the RSVP card linked here.


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