2017-09-27 / Home

‘Mourners’ solve murder/mystery to benefit Center for Impact and Innovation

BY JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff


Participants study clues to figure out “whodunit?” Participants study clues to figure out “whodunit?” There was a murder in the house of shiva. Actually, there were several murders. And some 150 people assembled to pay respects to the grieving widow and machatunim of Joel Fein witnessed these dramatic (some might say melodramatic) events while noshing on a light dinner and drinks at the Katz JCC Sept. 17.

The Evening of Murder & Mystery, a fundraiser benefitting Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey’s Center for Impact and Innovation, appropriately kicked off with a homicide. Lieutenant Sgt. Detective John DiCarlo, “acting” on a tip from the FBI, crashed the solemn gathering just in time to shoot a menacing, masked evildoer brandishing a gun.

Who was this masked man? Who was he hired to kill? For the next few hours, attendees were charged with sifting through clues, asking probing questions and staying ever alert – for anybody in the room could have been a killer. Suspects not only included grieving family members and the deceased’s friend/business partner, but also members of the Platt family, which would likely benefit from all the business drummed up by murders and were the sponsors of the first-of-its-kind fundraiser.


Showing off their prized DVD for solving the “Murder in the House of Shiva” are (from left) Sami Keim, Adina Boyd and Nicole Austin. Showing off their prized DVD for solving the “Murder in the House of Shiva” are (from left) Sami Keim, Adina Boyd and Nicole Austin. In the end, the homicide count would rise to four. As clues unfolded, those who were paying close attention – including a trio of 15-year-old super sleuths dubbed by DiCarlo “Charlie’s Angels” – figured out whodunit while having a blast in the process. Not surprisingly, there were Jewish mob ties involved and the motivation for murder involved family dynamics, greed and betrayal. Nobody was too surprised that the grieving widow Sarah was actually the evil mastermind.


The mourning family pose with Seth Scholl and Joel Kravitz. They include (from left) actors Clark Van Hekken, Sarah Dewey and Leslie Hawkins. The mourning family pose with Seth Scholl and Joel Kravitz. They include (from left) actors Clark Van Hekken, Sarah Dewey and Leslie Hawkins. “I love this kind of stuff,” admitted Sami Keim, 15, one of Charlie’s Angels, which took top prize for accurately unraveling the murder mystery.

While some other teams were close – including “the Menshes” “Platt” and “Eve’s New Friends,” Charlie’s Angels – composed of Keim, Adina Boyd and Nicole Austin – were spot on.

“We probably went up to everyone 17 times and asked questions that may have seemed odd but helped us a lot,” said Sami. “We also talked to the detective a lot to get his point of view and texted or called every single phone number (from the clues.)”

Nicole admitted she did not go into the evening as gung-ho about solving the murder as Sami, but was won over.

“We started becoming this team,” she said. “We got really into it.”

While others may not have been as CSI-minded as the Angels, all had fun for a good cause.

Event Chair Matt Podolnick noted that the event benefits Federation’s Center for Impact and Innovation, which funds a variety of high-impact programs in Gloucester, Burlington and Camden Counties. These include: The PJ Library, Gift of Israel, camp and school scholarships, special education initiatives and guest speakers, including a recent visit from Dr. Ron Wolfson, an expert on “Relational Judaism.”

“We have the privilege of working with Federation agencies, synagogues and schools,” said Podolnick. “Our responsibilities are to create, educate and convene through remarkable opportunities we provide to our community.”

Philanthropists Alan and Helene Blumenfeld also cosponsored the event. 

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