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JCC Annual Meeting & Gala to be held June 4

Photo of Mediterranean food ingredients promoting the Wladis Companies 2017 JCC Annual Meeting and Gala.

The Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse is gearing up to celebrate its biggest and most important annual fundraiser. The JCC of Syracuse’s 154th Annual Meeting & Gala will be held on Sunday, June 4 from 11 am to 2 pm at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia. The event will feature an awards ceremony recognizing a wide range of outstanding service in support of the JCC and the community.

The theme of this year’s gala is flavors of the Mediterranean. It will kick off with a cocktail hour which will give way to an elegant brunch. Following a brief business meeting the awards will be presented. In addition, the JCC will announce a major naming gift for its summer camps.

“We are thrilled to honor such a superb slate of award recipients again this year,” said JCC of Syracuse Executive Director Marci Erlebacher. “Through their selfless giving to both the JCC and the local community, they have achieved so much while inspiring and touching so many along the way.

“I am also extremely excited that we’ll be announcing the generous naming gift that we recently received for our summer camps,” added Erlebacher. “This is going to be big. It will give our camps a huge boost and further advance our efforts in creating a wonderful summer camp experience for hundreds of children each year.”

As in previous years, the gala’s proceeds will provide significant funding for scholarships to individuals in the JCC’s early childhood, after school, summer camp and senior programs. Thanks to last year’s many generous gala supporters, the JCC was able to grant over $40,000 in scholarship requests, serve over 6,000 meals to seniors and offer fitness classes at a discount to those in need.

Six awards will be presented during this year’s gala. The honorees represent a wide range of dedication and support. All will receive a personalized plaque or statue as a token of their honor.

2017 Kovod Award recipient Amy Sumida.This year’s Kovod Award, which signifies honor and importance, will be presented to JCC of Syracuse board member Amy Sumida. She has been on the JCC board for five years, having served on the Gala committee in 2012 and then as committee co-chair from 2013–2016. Sumida also currently chairs the Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School Staff Appreciation Luncheon, manages the Jamesville-DeWitt Little League Snack Shack, and has been a Junior League of Syracuse member since 2000, serving in various capacities for the organization including the sustainer vice president from 2013–2015. Her past service includes volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Person to Person Citizen Advocacy and serving as the Everson Museum’s Teddy Bear Tea co-chair and Festival of Trees co-chair.

2017 Kovod Gadol Award recipients Ellen and Howard  Weinstein.The Kovod Gadol Award, the JCC’s highest honor which in Hebrew translates to great honor, will be presented to Howard and Ellen Weinstein. The Weinstein’s have been involved with the JCC of Syracuse since arriving in Central New York in 1978. Howard M. Weinstein, MD, was a JCC board member in the late 1990s and then rejoined the board in 2012 as a vice president and executive committee member. Ellen S. Weinstein, Esq., is a former JCC of Syracuse board member. Howard is a practicing physician at Upstate University Hospital’s Community Campus and also the hospital’s division chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; president of the Upstate Medical University’s medical staff; a clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University; and director of the residency training and medical student programs at the Community Campus. He is currently president of the Syracuse Community Hebrew School and on the board of Advocates, Inc. Howard also served as president and co-president of Temple Adath Yeshurun. Ellen Weinstein worked in early childhood and elementary education before becoming an attorney. She is currently the chief clerk of the Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court. Previously she was a partner at the local law firm Pinsky & Skandalis, P.C. Ellen is currently vice president of the NYS Association of Chief Clerks of Surrogate’s Courts, a former president of the Onondaga County Bar Association and former vice president of the Onondaga County Bar Foundation board. She also currently serves as vice president and Allocation Committee co-chair for the Jewish Federation of CNY, and is on the boards of Advocates, Inc., Menorah Park, Menorah Park Foundation, Syracuse Jewish Family Service and Syracuse Hebrew Day School.

This year’s Hall of Fame Award will be given to Linda Alexander, Robert and Diane Miron and posthumously to Phil Holstein. The award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have dedicated themselves to the Syracuse Jewish community and to the advancement of the JCC.

2017 Hall of Fame Award recipient Linda Alexander.Linda Alexander is president/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Central New York and current and founding executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of CNY. The JCC Board of Directors decided in late April to honor Linda as a Hall of Fame recipient this year, not only because of her many accomplishments in the Jewish community, but also because she is retiring from her current local Jewish community positions and moving out of the area to be closer to family. Alexander is a leadership pioneer for local women, having served as president of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas and the Federation’s chairwoman of its Annual Campaign. She also received the Community Endowment Excellence Award, given by United Jewish Communities. Among the honors given to her by local community organizations in recognition of her leadership and efforts to make a difference are The Post-Standard Achievement Award; Temple Adath Yeshurun Citizen of the Year in 2006; the Esther and Joseph Roth Award for Outstanding Jewish Community Leadership in 1996, the Na’amat Woman of the Year Award and the Onondaga County Medical Society Alliance’s Community Service Award.

2017 Hall of Fame Award recipients Diane and Robert Miron.Robert and Diane Miron are long-time Central New York residents and supporters of both the JCC of Syracuse and the local Jewish community. The Miron’s children attended the JCC’s Jerome and Phyllis Charney Early Childhood Development Program (when it was called the JCC Nursery School). Robert “Bob” Miron was on the Nursery School’s board before joining the JCC of Syracuse board and serving as board president. After enjoying a successful 50-year career in broadcasting, and spending 44 of those years in the cable industry, Bob retired in 2010. He currently is a Crouse Hospital board member, executive committee member and chairs the quality committee; chairman of Discovery Communications, Inc.; and Syracuse University board member and life trustee. Bob is a former board member and board vice president of Temple Adath Yeshurun, and has been active in the Jewish Federation of CNY. Diane Miron retired from the Fayetteville-Manlius School District, where she taught for over 20 years. She currently is a board member with the Onondaga Historical Association, a Syracuse University Library advisory board member, and has been active with her alma mater, Kean University in New Jersey, where she will soon receive an honorary doctorate degree. Bob and Diane have been very generous in their philanthropic giving. A small chapel at Temple Adath was named after the Mirons and the couple’s significant gift to Crouse Hospital resulted in the 2013 naming of the cardiac care center to the Diane and Bob Miron Cardiac Care Center at Crouse Hospital. Last September the Mirons were honored during the Crouse Health Foundation’s 40th annual Tribute Evening for their community leadership and extraordinary commitment to Crouse and the Central New York community.

2017 Hall of Fame Award recipient Phil Holstein.Phil Holstein, who passed away last fall after battling pancreatic cancer, was an incredibly selfless individual. A former Jewish Federation of Central New York board president, he was a true philanthropist, community and business leader, and outdoorsman. Holstein had the incredible gift of being able to bring together diverse parts of the community and approach sensitive issues with kindness and fairness.

“In addition to caring about every aspect of the Jewish Community, Phil cared about the whole community,” says his wife Alyse Holstein. He was a compassionate peacemaker, always wanting everyone to be included and feel engaged.”

Phil Holstein’s love for the outdoors and philanthropic ways definitely rubbed off on his and Alyse’s children, Erin and Greg. By the age of 13 Phil became a 46er by completing the Adirondack 46 High Peaks. This is one of the greatest challenges in the Adirondack Park. Shortly before he passed, Erin told her father that she would be hiking all 46 mountains in an effort to raise $46,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. So far, she’s raised nearly half of this amount.

“My dad had an immense influence on my life,” said Erin Holstein. “He was my hero, my adventure buddy. He showed me how to be an exemplary citizen. He always spoke up about injustice in the community and the rights of all people regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status.”

Greg Holstein’s introduction to philanthropy came from his dad and indirectly from earlier generations. “My dad’s philanthropy was learned from his parents and grandparents,” said Greg. “I’d like to follow in his footsteps. He taught [my sister and I] how to serve in leadership positions and on nonprofit boards, and how to make a positive and meaningful difference in the community.”

It’s easy to see how Phil was positively influenced by his parents, Alex and Charlotte “Chuckie” Holstein. Both have had a profound impact on the local community by generously giving of their time and talents for many years, for which they were recognized by receiving the JCC’s Hall of Fame Award in 2014.

“Phil had very strong Jewish roots and just loved bringing people together,” said Chuckie Holstein. “He was a very honorable and ethical person. He had tremendous integrity and was an extremely positive person. He always looked on the bright side and knew that there were two sides to every story.”

2017 'The Leslie' Award recipient Todd Pinsky.This year’s Leslie Award, the second to be given since being introduced last year, will be presented to attorney Todd J. Pinsky, president and managing partner of the law firm Pinsky & Skandalis, P.C., which was founded by his grandfather, Norman Pinsky, in 1935. “The Leslie” recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and to the local community—the qualities which the award’s namesake, Leslie London Neulander, personified throughout her many selfless volunteer pursuits.

Pinsky, a proud member of the Jewish community, dedicates his time to several local Jewish organizations which serve children and seniors and help strengthen our community’s strong culture and traditions. He is a board member with the Jewish Federation of CNY, where he is on the community relations committee in addition to serving as the security liaison between the Federation and the JCC of Syracuse. Pinsky is also on the boards of Menorah Park, Syracuse Jewish Cemeteries Association and Temple Concord. He and his wife Sarah were active members of the Federation’s Young Leaders program when it was reintroduced in 2012. Pinsky was a member of the Leadership Greater Syracuse class of 2013 and was also named one of Syracuse’s 40 Under Forty by the Central New York Business Journal that year.

Invitations for the JCC’s Annual Meeting & Gala were recently mailed out. There are still a variety of affordable corporate and individual sponsorships, as well as program booklet advertiser spots, available for those wishing to support the event. To purchase tickets, and for information on event sponsorships, advertising or to place a congratulatory message in the program booklet for any of this year’s honorees, contact Erin Hart at 315-445-2360, ext. 112, or

The JCC of Syracuse, located on Thompson Rd. in DeWitt, was established in 1861 and is the second oldest JCC in North America. It offers a range of quality programs and services for all ages, including infant/toddler care, preschool, before and after school care and vacation camps for school-age children, summer day camps, teen programs, a sports and fitness center, outdoor heated pool and swimming lessons during the summer, adult programming, and services for seniors including a senior kosher meal program.