July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NJ Natives Honored at OHEL Gala

On Sunday, November 22, more than 1,300 friends and supporters of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services, the largest gathering in OHEL’s history, packed the grand ballroom of New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel. OHEL’s theme of the evening was Building Our Future Together.

The program inspired all—from OHEL’s latest groundbreaking film “Journey to New Beginnings,” to a number of story-telling videos and moving live speeches.

Introduced by his son Reuven Hellman, OHEL co-president and community advocate Moishe Hellman was guest of honor, and OHEL paid tribute to the 40 years of self-sacrificing and visionary leadership of Mr. Hellman and his wife Rozi. Through the years, Mr. Hellman has literally taken the call, thousands of calls, of those in need, and as personified by a friend in a worthy video tribute, Mr. Hellman “takes OHEL with him wherever he goes.”

Recognized during the evening were Team OHEL Everyday Heroes Bruce Prince from Englewood, New Jersey, as well as Tamar Sicklick and The Levi Family—both of whom also have a northern New Jersey connection!

Bruce Prince and his family have a relationship with OHEL going back almost a decade when their son, Zev, did his chesed project with OHEL, raising money for children to give them Chanukah presents as a bar mitzvah project. Bruce has participated in the NYC Marathon for the last 5 years, raising over a $100,000 over the years for OHEL’s children—and running under the name “David’s Run” for the last four years, in memory of Bruce’s brother, David S. Prince.

Collectively, these Team OHEL Everyday Heroes have raised 10s of thousands of dollars for OHEL’s children by participating in OHEL’s innovative first-time-in-Jewish-world events such as the oXc Extreme Challenge or OHEL’s Over the Edge, or biking and running as part of Team OHEL in numerous New York Road Runners-sponsored races. They together demonstrate that anyone of any ability—can be a part of the dynamic and expanding Team OHEL!

Through the Memorial Tribute, OHEL recognized the rich legacy of Max Wasser a”h, a former president of OHEL, and his wife Rose a”h, who together were the early pioneers and who literally placed OHEL on the community map. In a moving tribute to her father, Henny Rudansky spoke of an OHEL Bais Ezra Shabbaton in her home, shortly before her father’s passing, where a resident thanked Mr. Wasser for everything he had done for him, and she felt “it was as if Hashem was saying ‘Mission accomplished, Mr. Wasser.’”

Special guest speakers included Senator Chuck Schumer and OHEL Camp Kaylie Founder Harvey Kaylie. Mr. Kaylie spoke movingly about his own personal challenge of disability and stigma—and that while he now uses a wheelchair, he is still the same person he always was, and towers with even greater conviction to the mission of Camp Kaylie. Embracing this cause of inclusion and that every child of any and every ability deserves the Kaylie experience, Mr. Kaylie has made a direct appeal to the community to match his $500,000 grant. Visit www.ohelfamily.org to make your online gift meet the match.

World-famous cantor Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Helfgot also gave a live performance in honor of Moishe Hellman. Throughout the evening, illuminating and stirring videos showcased OHEL’s breadth of services, as well as the invaluable contribution of the evening’s honorees.

The featured video, “Journey to New beginnings,” was a unique first. While since 1969 OHEL has provided loving foster homes to over 2,500 foster children, this was the first time that former foster children had gone on camera to candidly share their life experiences, their challenges and triumphs—and where they are today, thanks to OHEL.

Rabbi Yaakov and Leah Lehrfield received the Community Leadership Award. Rabbi Yaakov is the much-loved rabbi of the Young Israel of Staten Island, and he and his wife are renowned for their devotion and attention to each community member in need. OHEL has partnered with the Lehrfields on many an occasion, often under the most trying of circumstances.

OHEL paid tribute to a young couple from Flatbush, Duvi and Rikki Janklowicz, through the OHEL Foster Parent tribute. Quiet and unassuming, with four young children of their own, they serve as incredible role models of foster parenting to the wider community, and the constant need of OHEL to recruit more foster parents given the increasing need for loving foster homes for the most vulnerable in our community.

As clearly evident throughout the evening, the thriving and growing Jewish community of today is a far cry from 1969 when OHEL was founded. Through the new Jaffa Family Campus, opening in the fall of 2016 in Flatbush on Avenue M and East 14th, OHEL will be able to not only meet these diverse needs, but further strengthen the community through the expansion of diverse services, which will all be integrated under one roof.

OHEL extends profound thanks to everyone who attended the Gala, made a gift in support of OHEL’s important work and contributed to the evening’s success, and to those individuals who continue to provide support in Building Our Future Together.

OHEL thanks many public officials who were also in attendance and shared words of support for OHEL including NYS Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblymembers David Weprin, Phillip Goldfeder, Steven Cymbrowitz, Michael Simanowitz, and Victor Pichardo as well as NYC Councilmembers David G. Greenfield, Helen Rosenthal, Andrew Cohen, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Levine.

Video presentations shown at the Gala, as well as videos of the event, can be viewed at http://www.ohelfamily.org/galavideos. To support OHEL’s important work transforming the lives of children and families, please visit www.ohelfamily.org/donate or call 718-972 9338. Every gift—of any size—makes a difference.

Since 1969, OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services has served as a dependable haven of individual and family support, helping people of all ages effectively manage disability, surmount everyday challenges, heal from trauma, and manage with strength and dignity during times of crisis.

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