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Food, fun, and fundraising for a good cause were the hallmarks of the JCC’s Annual Meeting and Gala. More than 200 community members gathered at the beautiful Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia, New York for the Sunday, June 4 event, to enjoy cocktails and a kosher meal catered by Essen New York Deli of Brooklyn.
“Phenomenal” was the word Marci Erlebacher, executive director of the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center, used to describe the ceremony. “Everyone had a great time. The feedback I’m getting is what a successful event we had.”
In its 160th year, The Annual Meeting and Gala is a community event that supports various JCC scholarships for the Early Childhood Development Program (ECDP), Summer Camp including support for children with special needs, the After School Program, and more. During the event, outgoing board members were recognized, new officers were sworn in, and three community members — Shai Jaffe, Steven Wladis, and outgoing board president Steven Sisskind — were honored for their service, dedication, and contributions to the JCC. This year a video highlighting the honorees’ reflections on receiving these awards was also shown during the ceremony.
Jaffe received the Kovod award, which signifies honor and importance, and is given to a community member who has taken an active and outstanding role in events and programs. Jaffe, a graduate of Syracuse Hebrew Day School, works with the Afterschool and Camp programs as well as the ECDP.
Wladis received the Kovod Gadol award, which means great honor, and is given to a community member who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment, energy, and loyalty to the JCC and greater community. Wladis is managing principal at OneDigital, the VP of finance for Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas (CBS-CS), is actively involved with The Wladis Hats & Gloves Foundation, and has served as a JCC board member for nearly 20 years. “It’s extremely humbling to receive the Kovod Gadol Award, but also very meaningful, given that my father is in the JCC’s Hall of Fame,” Wladis said.
Sisskind received the Hall of Fame award, which is given to an individual who has dedicated themselves to the Syracuse Jewish community and to the advancement of the JCC. Sisskind is the owner of Sisskind Funeral Service, LLC and has served as president of the JCC’s Board of Directors for the last decade. “This year’s gala was everything I could have hoped for and more,” Sisskind said. “The video was spectacular, the food was delicious, the room was full, but not crowded, and everyone was just so happy to be there!”
After serving as president for an unprecedented 10 years, Sisskind passed the gavel to Phil Rubenstein, president of Syracuse’s United Radio and VP of the JCC board. The Annual Meeting and Gala is the JCC’s biggest fundraiser, and Erlebacher was happy to report that the goal for this year’s event was met. “Without this event and without the generosity of our community we wouldn’t be able to give out as much in scholarships.” She added, “[The event] also means a lot to us because we’re honoring people who have been of service.”
It’s easy! Simply download the PDF below, fill it out, and drop it off at the JCC front desk! Then pick up your gift cards in time for the holidays! All gift cards available are listed below for your convenience!
2023 ORDER DEADLINE: Wednesday, December 7th.
Gift cards will be available for pick up December 18th.
The JCC is hosting a night of shopping! Take the opportunity to support women owned businesses and local vendors. This is the perfect place to purchase holiday gifts for loved ones. Wine will be available and the event is open to the community.
The annual JCC Gala has been a longstanding tradition that celebrates commitment to community. After a 2 year hiatus, the sense of community during the JCC’s 159th meeting felt stronger than ever. This year’s event was one of the highest grossing Annual Meeting/Gala in the history of the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center.
For years, the event has been an essential part of the JCC’s funding for scholarships. These scholarships have gone to children who for decades have flourished both socially and scholastically under the guidance of the Early Childhood Development Program, Camp Romano, and after school programs alike. These scholarships have also helped to mainstream children with special needs as part of our Yachad Program.
The funds for the event also benefit senior citizens. The JCC’s senior lunch program which is funded by the Onondaga County Adult and Long-Term Care Services, serves kosher meals at an inexpensive cost. This program has assisted in creating friendships and safe spaces for the elderly members of the JCC where bonds are made while bread is broken. The JCC has also funded fitness classes for those in need.
The celebration was held outdoors at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia in a well ventilated tent overlooking the Vineyards. Over 240 attendees enjoyed cocktails and a kosher meal catered by Essen New York Deli of Brooklyn. The attendees’ mouths may have been full, but they still managed to rave about the bagels and lox. The JCC granted 5 long overdue awards to recipients. These recipients were chosen 2 years ago before the pandemic and patiently waited for their moment of deserved appreciation.
The word Kovod is used to represent honor or importance. The Kovod award was presented posthumously to Judith Stander. The Kovod Gadol Award, the JCC’s high honor, was presented to Jeffrey Scheer and Abby Kasowitz Scheer. The Hall of Fame was established to recognize those who show an extraordinary level of commitment not only to the JCC but the community as a whole. The Hall of Fame Awards were presented to Steven and Sondra Goldberg and Barry and Debrah Shulman. The Leslie Award was created in memory of our valued and dear friend & member of the JCC & the greater community, Leslie London Neulander. This years’ Leslie award was presented to Davia Moss.
The speeches were graceful, the mood was light, and the event was refreshingly familiar. “One of the great tragedies of the pandemic is the disconnect that it created inside of communities.” said Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center, Marci Erlebacher. “I think that the return of the Gala was comforting for everyone. It was nice to be reminded of what makes this place so special. This gala more than any other felt more like a celebration of life and each other”
The Gala restored a feeling of community, and the funds provided will only make that community even stronger.
Join us Sunday, May 22 from 11 am to 2 pm at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia, the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center’s biggest and most important annual fundraiser is making its much anticipated return. The JCC’s 159th annual meeting and gala will feature an awards ceremony recognizing a wide range of outstanding service in support of the JCC and the community.
The gala’s “New York City Style Brunch” will be a dairy meal and will again be catered by Essen New York Deli of Brooklyn, following a welcoming cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres. After a brief business meeting, five awards will be presented. “We are delighted to recognize another superb group of honorees this year,” said Marci Erlebacher, JCC executive director. “The amazing service and support that these individuals have given to the JCC and to the local Jewish community is truly remarkable.”
The gala’s proceeds provide significant funding for scholarships for the JCC’s early childhood, after school, summer camp and senior programs. Thanks to last year’s gala, the JCC granted over $40,000 in scholarship requests, served over 6,000 meals to seniors and offered fitness classes at a discount to those in need.
Affordable corporate and individual sponsorships are available, as well as program booklet advertiser spots, with an April 29th deadline. For tickets, event sponsorships, advertising or to place a congratulatory message in the program for any of this year’s honorees, contact Erin Hart at 315-445-2360, ext. 112, or [email protected].
Tickets for the event start at $150. There will be three different levels. $150 (Friend), $175 (Patron), $200 (Supporter). Those that opt to become a table host will have an ad included in the ad book. The deadline to register is May 9th.
The Kovod Award,
which signifies honor and importance, will be presented posthumously to Judith Stander.
In addition to the Federation and the JCC, Judith Stander worked for Syracuse University’s Center for Business Information Technologies. She supported the Jewish community through her work on the annual Yom Hashoah commemoration, Yom HaAtzmaut celebration and Jewish Music and Cultural Festival. She served as vice president and secretary of the board of Temple Concord and vice chair and member of the board of education. She volunteered as a vocational counselor and sang with the Knesseth Shalom Singers. Additionally, she was a member of the Cortland County Youth Commission, Cortland Chamber of Commerce board, Village of Manlius Zoning Board of Appeals and WCNY TelAuc volunteer coordinator. Judith passed away on November 4, 2020.
The Kovod Gadol Award,
is the JCC’s highest honor, which in Hebrew translates to great honor. This award will be presented to Jeffrey Scheer and Abby Kasowitz Scheer.
Abby Kasowitz Scheer grew up in Central New York. She received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and master’s degrees in library science and instructional design, development and evaluation from Syracuse University. Abby has been a librarian at Syracuse University for over twenty years. She served as board President of the Syracuse Hebrew Day School. She is currently on the board of the Epstein School of Jewish Studies and served on the board of the JCC. Abby was a board member and president of Syracuse University’s chapter of Beta Phi Mu (International Library and Information Studies Honor Society) and is an active member of the American Library Association. She coordinates a support group for children with inflammatory bowel disease and their parents through Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Jeffrey Scheer, originally from Buffalo, is a partner at Bond, Schoeneck and King. He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester and graduated with his juris doctorate from SUNY Buffalo School of Law. Jeffrey served on, and later chaired, the Board of Directors of Hillel at Syracuse University. Since then, Jeffrey has served on the boards of Syracuse Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of CNY, Menorah Park, Jewish Community Foundation of CNY, Public Broadcasting Council of CNY – WCNY, Camp Ramah in New England and the Green Family Foundation. At the Jewish Community Foundation, Jeffrey works with the young adults in the Teen Funders Program. In 2016, Jeffrey received the Not-For-Profit Award from the CNY Business Journal for his work with WCNY.
will be presented this year to two couples who have given so much to the community: Steven and Sondra Goldberg and Barry and Debrah Shulman.
Steven and Sondra Goldberg have a rich history as friends and advocates of the Jewish Community Center. “We believe the JCC promotes a culture of equality and trust. The JCC is near and dear to our hearts because of the strong Jewish foundation it has fostered both inside and outside our home” said Sondra.
Steven is a past Vice President of the JCC Board of Directors and an active leader of the yearly JCC Super Bowl Fundraiser. He is a former board member of The Make-A-Wish Foundation and the National Home Furnishing Association. He is a City of Hope Spirit of Life Award recipient and Greater New York Home Furnishing Association (GNYHFA) Jerry Gans Memorial Award recipient. Both Steven and Sondra served as Honorary Chairs of the Vera House “New Beginnings” Gala. Sondra was a former Vera House Foundation Board of Trustee member, serving as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. She initiated the Foundation of Hope Campaign, raising endowments from 1.5 million to 3 million for agency programming and support services. Sondra received the distinction of being presented the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from The Association of Fundraising Professionals of CNY for her philanthropic and unwavering commitment in the community. Formerly of the Syracuse Hebrew Day School Board of Directors, she presently affiliates with Temple Adath Sisterhood, National Council of Jewish Women and is a proud Lion of Judah.
Steven is Executive Vice Chairman of the locally based furniture company Raymour & Flanigan. Sondra is the owner and sole proprietor of Home Styling Solutions. Her passion for enhancing special features within one’s living environment has given her the privilege of fulfilling young children’s dreams through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The couple are Major Gift contributors to the Jewish Federation of CNY’s Annual Campaign.
They raised their daughters, Dana, Rebecca and Kara in Fayetteville. All three are proud graduates of the Syracuse Hebrew Day School. Their expanded family includes two wonderful sons-in-law and grandchildren Sophia, Devon, Charlie and Noa.
Debbie Shulman is a former chapter president, state program chair, and national board member of Women’s American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). She was appointed by four NY Governors to the Board of Visitors of Hutchings Psychiatric Center. As a school psychologist and alcohol and drug abuse prevention education counselor, she originated several programs, garnering state and national recognition. The best known program, The Drug Quiz Show, taught 10 to 14-year-olds about substance abuse, bullying, conflict resolution, gambling, and grief. She received the U.S. Department of Human Services’ highest honor, the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Community Health Promotions. Debbie was named a Daily Points of Light honoree in the national volunteer recognition program created by President George W. Bush.
They are the proud parents and grandparents of Marc-David z”l, Jenifer, and Zac Shulman, Jennifer Shulman, and Allison, Larry, Cecilia and Evan Schwartz.
This year’s Leslie Award,
will be presented to Davia Moss, JCC board member. “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.
Davia Moss graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in psychology. She worked as an EMT while attending Crouse College of Nursing and went on to become a Pediatric ICU/Emergency Department nurse for five years before ultimately completing her nurse practitioner master’s degree. She is now the adolescent nurse practitioner at Upstate University Hospital and an adjunct faculty member for both St. John Fisher College and Le Moyne College. Davia is a JCC Board Member. She is co-chair of the ECDP parent committee, serving on the JCC executive committee and gala committee. She and her family are members of Temple Adath Yeshurun. Davia and her husband Patrick live in Syracuse with their children, Eliana, Cason and Asher.