On Monday, December 2, the sixth Annual Jew in the City All Star event will be held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The awards show and premiere party is known as the greatest night each year in Orthodox Jewish professional success.
This year’s event will celebrate the achievements of 10 exceptional observant Jews: Karen Barrow, senior editor at The New York Times; AJ Edelman, the first Orthodox Jewish male olympian; Joseph Essas, chief technology officer at OpenTable; David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel; Bat-el Gatterer, the first Orthodox Jewish female olympian; Dov Kramer, executive producer of WFAN sports radio; Shulem Lemmer, the first Hasidic Jew to sign with a major record label; Stephanie Pollack, the secretary of transportation for Massachusetts; Sam Rascoff, the former director of the NYPD Intelligence Analysis Unit; and Jerry Wittenstein, a NASA physicist who developed three of the six trajectories for Apollo 11. Additionally, four-time Emmy nominated actress, Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., will receive the Keter Shem Tov Award.
“This all grew by accident,” said Allison Josephs, Jew In the City’s founder and director. “A lot of people have a misconception about Orthodox Jews––they think that Orthodox women are not allowed to work and Orthodox men can only be rabbis.”
In 2012, Josephs created a video that highlighted the accomplishments of Jews in all fields of work, including those of Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman.
“I wanted to make a video to break down the stereotype––Jews can be U.S. Senators, novelists, YouTube Stars,” she said. “In 2012, on a whim, we made a launch party in a few weeks on no budget, which was attended by 200 people and reporters from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the New York Post. This event was such a success that we decided to do this every year. We would open nominations to the public and honor successful Jews.”
Since its inception in 2012, the event has grown tremendously, and Josephs expects more than 700 people to attend this year.
This year’s nominations were opened to the public last fall. The criteria for nomination was that the candidate is an Orthodox Jew who has achieved a universally recognized level of success. A panel of judges was selected to review the nominees; they looked for diversity of professions, range of hashkafot and a mix of genders.
“We are looking to recognize the best of what we have,” Josephs said. She recalled hearing people’s praise of the event, and what a kiddush Hashem it was to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of fellow Jews. “I never felt prouder to be Jewish and to be frum.”
Jew in the City is reshaping the way the world views Orthodox Jews and Judaism. The team believes that Orthodox Jews can be approachable, educated and open-minded, and that Orthodox Judaism links the Jewish people to a beautiful heritage that is just as relevant today as it ever was.
Funds raised at the Jew in the City event are used to benefit Project Makom, which is a life-saving initiative to help former and questioning charedi Jews find their place in Orthodoxy. Project Makom believes that while there are numerous valid paths within Orthodox Judaism, not all observant Jews are born into a community which fits them. Some charedi Jews who want to transition to a more open observant community face hurdles that prevent them from doing so. Some of these people leave religious life altogether. Project Makom gives these individuals another option by providing guidance for those looking to find their place within observant Judaism
Tickets are currently on sale for this event. Those who purchase tickets, which include access to an after party, will be treated to music, open bar and small bites courtesy of Josh Massin, executive chef of NoBo Wine and Grill, in collaboration with Genadeen Caterers.
Visit www.jewinthecity.com/events for more info.
By Judy Berger