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Orthodox Jewish “All-Stars” Awards Gala to Honor 10, Including Teaneck Resident Josh Meier

Jew in the City, an organization dedicated to re-branding perceptions of orthodox Jews and Judaism through digital media, will hold its third annual “Orthodox Jewish All-Stars” awards gala December 2nd at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC. Each year, Jew in the City recognizes ten exceptional people who have reached the pinnacle of their fields while maintaining a religiously observant lifestyle.

One of this year’s honorees, Josh Meier, hails from Teaneck, joining 2012 All-Star Rochelle Shoretz of Teaneck, founder and executive director of Sharsheret (a national organization supporting Jewish women facing breast cancer), and the first orthodox Jewish female law clerk of the US Supreme Court under Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who used to make sure Shoretz would leave early to get home in time for shabbat.

“In the three years we’ve been naming Orthodox Jewish All-Stars, we’ve honored 30 people from around the world, with two from Teaneck, and several others from Bergen short-listed,” said Allison Josephs, founder and director of Jew in the City. “My kids attend Bergen County schools, so I know how extraordinary this community is.” Sarah Abenaim, a writer at this paper who was inspired by Josephs after meeting her at a speaking engagement, adds: “Even living in a town largely populated with orthodox Jewish professionals, it’s important to demonstrate to others how many ‘all stars’ exist around the globe, how many people don’t have to pick God or a career, but can pick both,” she said.

One such ‘all-star’ who exemplifies this balance is honoree Meier, whose achievements include developing techniques to slow down the aging of stem cells, then applying these techniques to cancer cells, causing them to acquire aging symptoms and stop growing, a potential new clinically-applicable treatment for cancer. Named one of CNN’s “Eight Whiz Kids who are the Future of Medicine,” Josh Meier is a senior at Bergen County Academy and is also currently studying at Harvard University.

Meier grew up in Teaneck and switched from yeshiva day school after 7th grade to Bergen County Academy despite concerns from his family and community to better accommodate his academic needs and interests, continuing with Judaic studies daily with a tutor. Meier describes the demanding regimen: “It was hard, living both of those lives at once. But I really got a lot out of it. That’s why I was so excited to be chosen by JITC. Their mission is really great.” Conscious being a representative of the Jewish community in secular environments, he believes that the experience has pushed him to live to a higher standard. “Modern orthodoxy is about living a Jewish lifestyle while still incorporating ourselves in the greater world. My goal is to give back to the world. I think that extends from my Jewish identity.”

In addition to Meier, Forbes magazine-ranked hedge fund manager and philanthropist Henry Swieca, BCBGeneration creative director Joyce Azria, and four-time Emmy-winning producer at The Today Show Yael Federbush, are among this year’s All-Stars, as are 2014 Israel Prize winner in medicine Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin; table tennis phenom and 2016 Olympic hopeful Estee Ackerman, and Montreal councilwoman Mindy Pollak, the first Hasidic woman ever to be elected to public office.

“When we created this award in 2012, we focused on shattering people’s misconceptions about orthodox Jews and what they could accomplish professionally,” said Josephs. “Last year, when Chanukah historically intersected with Thanksgiving, we celebrated the religious freedoms that exist in the world today, which allow people of all faiths to excel in a variety of career paths. This year, our message is our most crucial one yet: With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across the globe, we are celebrating 10 individuals who proudly observe Jewish traditions as they’ve soared to the tops of their fields.”

Many of this year’s and previous year’s All-Stars are expected to attend the red carpet awards gala. Attendees will enjoy music, wine, and a dairy Chanukah-themed dinner including latke and donut bars. The event will be emceed by Hasidic comic, Mendy Pellin, a 2012 Orthodox Jewish All-Star who the New York Times called “Stephen Colbert with a beard and a black hat.” Past All-Stars have included former Senator Joe Lieberman, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann. Josephs was named one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 in 2013 and one of NJOP’s Top Ten Jewish Influencers in 2012.

Tickets are available to the public. For more information about the Orthodox Jewish All Stars Awards party on December 2 or to purchase tickets, visit http://JewintheCity.com/ojallstars

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