April 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Jew in the City Celebrates All Stars 2018

Last Sunday night, November 5, Jew in the City (JITC) held its fifth annual All Star evening at midtown Manhattan’s Convene, drawing guests from near and far to celebrate this year’s lineup. Upon arrival, guests mingled with honorees over sushi by Eden Wok and fine wine compliments of Royal Wine. The VIP pre-party also featured beef jerky tasting by Candy & Cattle as well as whiskey tasting by Nahmias et Fils. Azamra DJ set the mood for an upbeat evening to follow.

Disney director and former All Star Saul Blinkoff successfully engaged the crowd of more than 500 people as they settled into their seats for the awards reception. With snack bags containing popcorn by Popinsanity and Nuts by Star Snacks, guests were well prepared for an Emmy-like production that proved to be both entertaining and inspiring.

This year’s All Stars event benefited Project Makom, a division of JITC that helps former and questioning Charedi Jews find their place in Orthodoxy. “My heart is warm from seeing Jews from all walks of life coming together to celebrate a kiddush Hashem,” said founder/director of JITC Allison Josephs, as she greeted the audience. Many Jewish people grow up feeling Orthodoxy is a burden; instead of adding a sweetness to their lives, the Torah somehow became bitter to them, noted Josephs. Having encountered countless individuals who feel this way, JITC was inspired to start Project Makom. “Tonight and every day our organization works hard to make it known that a Torah-observant life is meant to be a full life and a sweet life,” explained Josephs. Project Makom ensures that these Jews have a chance to hold onto Torah observance in a way that works for them. “Who better to show the fullness and the sweetness that the Torah can bring to our lives than our esteemed All Stars,” she added.

2018 All Stars included David Mazouz, teen star of Fox’s hit show “Gotham”; The Honorable Ruchie Freier, the first Hasidic New York civil court judge; Neil Schloss, Ford Motor Company’s vice president and treasurer; Frayda Ginsburg, Burberry’s director of legal, Americas; Businessman Ahmed Zayat, owner and breeder of American Pharoah; Samuel Rascoff, former director of the NYPD’s intelligence analysis unit; Chaim Lebovitz, CEO of BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, the first biotech company to produce a treatment that has been clinically shown to reverse the symptoms of ALS; and David Adler, author of the international best-selling Cam Jansen children’s book series. While their successes are diverse, one outstanding similarity is their commitment to Hashem and the Torah. Each of the eight awardees proclaimed that they would not be where they are today without their dedication to Judaism.

During the program, the audience got a look into the lives and careers of the All Stars through a JITC-produced video presentation, followed by brief words of inspiration from each All Star as they accepted their awards. Each All Star shared some personal stories that they believe contributed to their success.

Esteemed author David Adler commented that the famed Cam Jansen always ate cream cheese sandwiches and solved mysteries by Thursdays, because eating kosher and observing the Sabbath was a priority even for his fictitious storybook character. “I have always tried to infuse my books with as many Jewish values as I can,” Adler said. Adler dedicated this award to his late father who had been so proud of him and his success as an author.

Chaim Lebovits, president/CEO of Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, explained the work he does as Tikun Olam. “It is a wonderful form of charity, helping save lives.” He is proud to be an inspiration to other Jews and demonstrate that you don’t have to compromise your religious beliefs to do something important for the world. He hopes his work with ALS will be a “game changer for the world and also a big kiddush Hashem.”

Ahmed Zayat, Teaneck resident and owner/breeder of American Pharoah, paid tribute to his late father whom he called his mentor, his friend and his rock. Zayat described himself as “a glass half full kind of guy.” His parents gave him the strength to be what he is today and he believes Jewish people, no matter where they are living, are one people who need to take care of each other. Zayat has remained true to the traditions passed down by his parents and believes those values are the basis for all that he has accomplished.

The Honorable Ruchie Freier believes that one can have it all. Deciding to pursue a law degree at age 30 and with six children was not an easy challenge, yet she was determined not to compromise on her standards. “I wanted to still bake challah every Shabbos,” she professed. “I wanted to do everything I had been doing before.” Above all she urged guests to stay true to their faith. “Whatever your standards are, stick with them. Don’t feel for one second that you have to compromise any of your religious beliefs to be successful in the secular professional world. Speak to your values and that will give you the strength to succeed,” she declared.

The evening culminated with an after-party featuring small plates by NoBo Wine & Grill in partnership with Executive Caterers, and dessert by Baked by the Dozen. Guests enjoyed an intense Chopped competition led by Aussie Gourmet Naomi Nachman in conjunction with Kosher.com.

The prevailing message of the night emphasized that Orthodoxy and Torah observance only helps to further the success of those who dedicate themselves to this lifestyle. These exceptional All Stars truly acknowledge Hashem and His involvement in their respective accomplishments. To learn more about Jew in the City and Project Makom, please visit www.JewintheCity.com.

By Andrea Nissel

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles