2018-06-06 / Voice at the Shore

Dedicated leaders, Israel, and LIFE & LEGACY take center stage at Federation Annual Meeting

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER,
Voice shore editor


Almog Elijis of the Israeli Consulate in New York City was keynote speaker at the Jewish Federation’s Annual Meeting on May 24. Almog Elijis of the Israeli Consulate in New York City was keynote speaker at the Jewish Federation’s Annual Meeting on May 24. The generosity and dedication of Jewish Federation donors and leaders was celebrated at the organization’s Annual Meeting on May 24 at the JCC in Margate, which included a cocktail reception, an awards presentation, and a keynote speech by Almog Elijis of the Israeli Consulate in New York City.

The evening’s award winners included:

Jeff Kripitz, LIFE & LEGACY chair, who received the Harry Cassman Award;

Long-time dedicated volunteers Judith and Dr. Leonard Galler, who received the Weinstein Award;

Annual Campaign chairs Isadore May and Sondra Dublinsky, who received the Campaign Achievement Award;

Stephanie and Dan Koch, who received the Young Leadership Award;

JFS Village by the Shore director Tina Serota, who received the Jack I. Fox Leadership Award; and


Tina Serota, pictured with Kirk Wisemayer, received the Jack I. Fox Leadership Award for her leadership of the JFS Village by the Shore program, which works cooperatively with the JCC and other local organizations to help seniors “age in place with dignity and security.” Tina Serota, pictured with Kirk Wisemayer, received the Jack I. Fox Leadership Award for her leadership of the JFS Village by the Shore program, which works cooperatively with the JCC and other local organizations to help seniors “age in place with dignity and security.” Seashore Gardens Living Center, which received the One Jewish Community Award.

Israel also took center stage at the meeting, with a keynote speech by Almog Elijis of the Israeli Consulate, who spoke about the 70-year-old nation’s miraculous achievements, the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and recent media reports of violence in Gaza. Elijis was brought in to speak for the event by the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is part of Federation.

The roughly 100 Annual Meeting attendees received a heart-felt welcome and thank you from Jewish Federation Executive Director Kirk Wisemayer. “You are our lifeblood, our leaders, our donors… nothing happens in this community without you,” he said.


Seashore Gardens Living Center board president Adrienne Beinfest accepted the One Jewish Community Award on behalf of her organization from Jewish Federation president David Lieberman. The award recognized Seashore Gardens for providing compassionate care to Jewish seniors and for partnering with many other local Jewish organizations. Seashore Gardens Living Center board president Adrienne Beinfest accepted the One Jewish Community Award on behalf of her organization from Jewish Federation president David Lieberman. The award recognized Seashore Gardens for providing compassionate care to Jewish seniors and for partnering with many other local Jewish organizations. Federation president David Lieberman’s report highlighted the success of the most recent Annual Campaign. Notably, this year’s campaign succeeded in attracting new donors and increased donations through a new program called the “Impact Zone,” which created a fund used for micro-grants to local, national and international organizations.

A total of $17,000 from 62 donors was collected and distributed through the Impact Zone program, which was the brainchild of 2017 Annual Campaign Co-chairs Isadore May and Sondra Dublinsky. May and Dublinsky, who received the Campaign Achievement Award for their efforts, will also chair the 2018 Annual Campaign, which has been dubbed the “Life of the Community” campaign.


Dr. Leonard Galler and Judith Galler received the Weinstein award from Jewish Federation executive director Kirk Wisemayer for their decades of service to the local Jewish community. Dr. Leonard Galler and Judith Galler received the Weinstein award from Jewish Federation executive director Kirk Wisemayer for their decades of service to the local Jewish community. Lieberman lauded Federation efforts to engage more Jewish Young adults through “NextGen AC,” a revitalized and rebranded version of the local Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Division. To attract more young families to the area, he added, “we need a Hebrew Day School,” noting that he hoped to see one established here once again, although “it may not happen in my time,” he said.

Another successful Federation initiative highlighted throughout the evening by Lieberman and others was the LIFE & LEGACY program. Created and partially funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the LIFE & LEGACY program ensures the continued vibrance of Jewish life locally by encouraging donors to make legacy gifts to the local organizations they most cherish. “I believe this will be the greatest fundraising initiative ever,” noted Lieberman, who also praised the program for helping to create a spirit of cooperation among local Jewish organizations.

Already, LIFE & LEGACY has brought in an additional $450,000 to the Foundation, reported Jewish Community Foundation Chair Robert Lang. Through LIFE & LEGACY, he noted, everyone can “leave a permanent legacy that will enrich the lives of all who will live here tomorrow, or generations from now,” by “leaving a portion…of our individual or family assets, as a bequest in our wills, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies.”

Jewish Community Foundation also enjoyed “a bumper year” in 2017 due to the bull market and strong volunteer leadership, noted Lang. “A great debt of gratitude is owed to all who serve on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation,” he stressed.

Keynote speaker Almog Elijis, Spokesperson and Consul for Media Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York City, described the U.S. Embassy’s recent move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv as “a joyous day.” Guatemala and Paraguay also just opened embassies in Jerusalem, said Elijis, who has served in various diplomatic roles for Israel since 2016, and whose youth and energy clearly captivated the crowd.

The violence in Gaza on the day of the embassy opening was encouraged by Hamas, noted Elijis, who said that Palestinians had been engaging in peaceful protests at the fence for several weeks prior to the embassy opening.

“Hamas tried to get attention from the international media” by encouraging the violent protests seen that day, with protesters hurling rocks and trying to burn and fire bomb the fence in an effort to breach it.

“If the fence breaches, everyone goes in and kills [Israelis],” just as Hamas has done in the past after entering Israel through secret underground tunnels, she stressed. That's why the IDF forces were compelled to do what needed to be done to guard the fence on the day of the embassy opening.

"The loss of life was a tragedy for both sides," stressed Elijis.

She also noted that Israel regularly made use of social media--in Arabic--to communicate with Palestinians, and tried to prevent potential problems on the day of the embassy opening by telling people not go to the fence on that day.

Israel is committed to “peace with all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians,” she stressed.

Elijis thanked attendees for all they did to support Israel. She described Israel’s 70th birthday as “the celebration of a miracle,” praising the brave, proud “Jewish giants” who “rose up during the darkest period of our people” to create the Jewish state.

“Israel went from a charity cause to a country that brings hope and resources to other countries in need,” added Elijis, showing the world that “vibrant democracy breeds success.”

Elijis’s sentiments were echoed by Judith Galler, who co-chairs the local Jewish Federation’s Israel Center and Israel@70 Celebration Committee. “That we have a strong Israel is really a miracle—a miracle we take for granted because most of us don’t remember when there was no Israel.”

Galler and her husband, Dr. Leonard Galler, received the Weinstein Award for their decades of service to the local Jewish community. Judith, a Lion of Judah since 1990, has served as Jewish Federation’s president and campaign chair and has led numerous committees and initiatives. Leonard is a longtime member of the Maimonides Society, a Jewish Federation group for physicians, and serves as its current chair.

The Harry Cassman Award, named for the founder of the local Jewish Federation, was given to long-time Federation volunteer Jeff Kripitz, who currently chairs the LIFE & LEGACY program. Kripitz has also served as Jewish Federation president and campaign chair, as well as chair of the allocations and finance committee and in leadership roles with Congregation Beth Israel and the JCC in Margate.

“We in this room have benefitted greatly by Harry Cassman and other leaders like him,” noted Kripitz in accepting the award. “Now it’s our turn to look at ourselves and decide what legacy we want to leave to the next generation,” he added, encouraging attendees to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY program by making a legacy gift. “We all want the future to be vibrant and prosperous for our children and grandchildren.” 

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