In the Spirit of Achievement

On The Go

By Masha Leon

Published May 06, 2010, issue of May 14, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

“Tonight I, a 100% Galitzianer, will introduce Cindy and David Stone, both Litvaks,” said Charlie Rose at the April 26 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s ninth annual Me’Dor Le’Dor (generation to generation) Heritage Dinner, held at the Center for Jewish History.  A YIVO board member, Rose cited “Yiddishkeit and memory of the Lithuanian [Litvak] Jewish community” as the imperative that energized the evening’s honorees — the Stones, Betty Trock Hendler, Leon Wagner and Harry Wagner.  Following greetings by YIVO executive director and Jonathan Brent, event chair and Holocaust survivor Fanya Gottesfeld Heller declared: “[This evening]… is about parents and grandparents who came to this country to make new lives… .We began again. We could not allow ourselves to be defeated by the depth of our tragic losses…. Each day, I try to give back to the Jewish community and to tell our story to the world…. It is very important that our younger generations understand that they have become the keepers of Yiddishkeit and must help carry the torch of our heritage to he future.

Honored: Sylvia Smoller
Karen Leon
Honored: Sylvia Smoller

Business Mogul and Social Activist Russell Simmons Honored by Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services at Spring Benefit

  In introducing Russell Simmons, an honoree at the April 11 Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services benefit, held at Guastavino’s, Marc Schneier, founding rabbi of The Hampton Synagogue, in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and co-founder with Simmons of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (of which he is also president), joshed that “we call him the Reverend [Al] Sharpton of the Jews.”  Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and creator of the Phat Farm fashion line, noted modestly: “We try to create harmony and [galvanize the] efforts of the Jewish community to support everyone of every religion… [and] fight antisemitism.”  A Blessing by Rabbi Shmuel Felzenberg, the Jewish chaplain of the United States military Academy at West Point, and greetings by Paul Levine, JBFCS’s executive vice president and CEO, preceded the award presentations to the JBFCS board of trustees’ chairman,John Herrmann, and JBFCS’s vice president, David Everett.  Everett, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.), was twice awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, and the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal for service in Afghanistan. Apropos the $7 million grant that JBFCS received from UJA-Federation of New York, Levine stated, “No other organization has received such a  [large] and unrestricted grant… to be used to serve [its] 175 programs.”   Named by Crain’s New York Business as “one of New York City’s twenty-five largest non-profit organizations according to budget size,” with its $180 million annual budget, JBFCS boasts 2,2000 professionals — social workers, licensed psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical support personnel. It established and continues to operate two of the largest residential treatment facilities for adolescents in New York on its Westchester campus. Each provides a home and “cultivates a family” for nearly 300 youth at risk who come to JBFCS after multiple foster home placements, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and behavioral challenges.   In his address, Levine noted, “In the light of the current fiscal sate… we did not give up on any New Yorker, neither did we close any services in 2009.” It was noted that JBFCS was the recipient of a $1 million gift from artist/authorMaurice Sendak — famed for “Where the Wild Things Are”  — in memory of his life partner, Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist, artist and scholar who was on the staff at JBFCS for many years.

NBC Host Hoda Kotb and Cosmetics Maven Adrien Arpel Among Honorees at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Spirit of Achievement Luncheon

  “Inside every older woman is a younger woman wondering, ‘What the hell happened!?’” said Sylvia Smoller, an honoree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University National Women’s Division Spirit of Achievement Luncheon, held April 27 at The Pierre. Smoller, head of Einstein’s division of epidemiology, revealed: “We escaped from Warsaw to Vilno… [came here] via a [Japanese] Sugihara visa.  I have always been an outsider and a refugee until I came to Einstein, where I found a real home.”  Honoree Hoda Kotb, a co-host on NBC’s “Today,” stated: “The way you live your days is how you live your life.  If you don’t like Monday — then change it! If you survive breast cancer, you can’t scare me.” She added, “I’m divorced!”  Al Roker, her NBC colleague, piped up: “One was a vicious lump; the other [her husband] was a disease.” Clothing designer Dennis Basso told the 700 women in the room, “I have danced with 400 of you at bar mitzvahs and weddings.”  Also honored were cosmetics magnate Adrien Arpel, Lincoln Center director of fashion Stephanie Winston Wolkoff and fashion designer Naeem Khan, who dressed first lady Michelle Obama for the state dinner.   Arpel, an icon in the cosmetics industry for more than 30 years, is the founder of one of the most recognized cosmetic and skin care lines in the world. She joshed about her daughter, who trolls for Albert Einstein medicine graduates to introduce to Arpel’s granddaughter. 

  Wolkoff, who was mentored by Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, when the former worked there, informed: I’m a black belt in karate, a lacrosse player who entered the Olympics. I’m at risk [for breast cancer] and have had tumors removed.”  The mother of three disclosed, “My 8-year-old son suffers from multiple fatal food allergies.”   Khan, whose fans include Eva Longoria Parker and Beyoncé Knowles, was born in India, where his father and grandfather ran embroidery factories and produced luxurious clothing worn by the Indian royal families.   In his introduction of Smoller, Dr. Allen Spiegel, dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, described her as “an epidemiologist who broke the mold, [whose] career of scientific research has had a dramatic effect on lowering breast cancer in this country” — a reference to the study of 160,000 menopausal women in the now historic hormone replacement therapy trials.  Smoller joshed, “Our next phase will focus on aging — a subject very dear to my heart.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.