Congregation Israel of Springfield annual dinner sets record for … –

Congregation Israel of Springfield held its 40th Annual Dinner at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, on April 28. Pictured (back row, from left) are, award winners Mel Ostrow, Ben Hoffer, Joseph J. Fleming, Bruce Francis, Rabbi Chaim Marcus, Howard Apsan, Adam Hanover (front row, from left) Daniella Hoffer, Rachel Kohn, Sara Youner, Jordana Hanover. (courtesy photo)
Congregation Israel of Springfield held its 40th Annual Dinner at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, on April 28. The event, attended by a record crowd of more than 225 persons, provided an opportunity to honor a number of noteworthy shul members and community leaders. As well, the kehilla was pleased to present a scholarship award to a graduating high school senior who excelled in her community service.
The program was hosted by master of ceremonies Aron Srulowitz; each awardee was presented with a gift, and then addressed the crowd. The dinner was preceded by an hour-long buffet reception at which the attendees had an opportunity to meet and greet the awardees.
The Rabbi Israel E. Turner Memorial Award went to Sara Youner and Howard Apsan. Howard is the University Director of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Risk Management for The City University of New York, the largest urban university system in the United States. In addition, he has been a member of the faculty at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs since 1986, and also teaches in Columbia's Sustainability Management program. Howard has served as the Beadle of Congregation Israel of Springfield and was the founding president of Mikvah Yisroel of Springfield. He also serves on the Springfield Environmental Commission and is a lieutenant in the police reserve.
Youner is an attorney in the Law Offices of Paula G. Kaplan in Springfield. The firm specializes in medical collections and related legal claims for a client base that includes hospitals, medical groups and individual practitioners. She is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey, and has represented clients in both federal and state courts.
A past member of the Congregation Israel Board of Trustees, Youner served as Chair of the Congregation Israel Nursery School, and was an active member of the Sisterhood. A lactation consultant and Emergency Medical Technician for the Springfield First Aid Squad, she is studying for a master's degree in oriental medicine at Pacific College.
Joseph J. Fleming, P.E, P.P. received the Community Business Leadership Award. Fleming, Executive Vice President/Land Group of Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor, is not only an award-winning civil engineer, but a visionary real estate development executive who has overseen dozens of highly prominent and acclaimed construction projects, from houses of worship and retail centers, to corporate office developments and residential housing. One of Fleming's special interests is contributing to the design and permitting of houses of worship throughout New Jersey. Chief among these projects was our own Mikvah Yisroel in Springfield, as well as multiple assignments for Touro College, the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Hillsborough, and the Archdiocese of Newark.
Fleming and his wife Mary Pat celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last December. Longtime residents of the Village of South Orange and parishioners at Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
Jordana Hanover was presented with the Joseph Tammam Scholarship Award by Joe's widow, Sondra Tammam. A senior at Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, Hanover has been involved in myriad activities, including managing the basketball team, participating in the annual school play and musical, serving on the green team, blood drive and art committee. Outside school she helps children and young adults with various medical and educational difficulties, a vocation she embraced after participating in GIVE, a summer program focusing on the special needs community. Since then, she has expanded her interest in helping disadvantaged adults and children, by working at Camp Kaylie and volunteering for the Friendship Circle and Torah Circle groups. This coming summer, she plans to work at Camp HASC.
From a young age, Hanover has also been active at Congregation Israel. For many years, she has supported a multitude of CIS-based activities, including helping her parents at the annual BBQ and Purim fest, and helping Sisterhood members pack and deliver traditional Purim gift packets, and in overseeing the annual boutique.
Jordana will truly miss Springfield and CIS when she attends Shaalvim for Women in Israel for her 'gap year'.
Dr. Bruce Francis, was the recipient of the Edward Konigsberg Memorial Award. Bruce grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, which was then home to a large number of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, as well as Poles, Germans and Puerto Ricans. Francis earned a full scholarship to nearby St. John's University, where he received a B.S. in biology, and entered a PhD program. After being advised to switch to medicine, he continued to broaden his horizons by moving to Italy for medical school. His alma mater, the University of Bologna, was established in 1069 and remains one of the most highly regarded schools in Europe, and is central to the city's vibrant Jewish community.
In 2000, Francis moved to New Jersey and joined the pharmaceutical industry, working initially at Johnson and Johnson, and for the last eight years at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, where he continues conducting clinical research.
Rachel Kohn, Ph.D. received the Aishet Chayil {Woman of Valor} Award. After receiving her doctorate from MIT, Kohn and her husband Shelly moved to Springfield, where they raised their sons, Justin and David. Both the shul and community soon learned that Rachel was an organizer, a doer, someone who could accomplish goals–and more important, she never said no.
Around the time Kohn was thinking of starting a women's learning group, Sisterhood President Sharon Fersel asked her to do just that–and Kohn was its driving force for the next 16 years. Kohn also initiated the Purim Mishloach Manot project, which has since grown into the Sisterhood's largest fund raiser; and she was one of the originators of the women's weekly Psalms study group, in which she continues to be a regular participant.
The Young Leadership Award went to Daniella and Ben Hoffer. With their vibrancy, warmth and dedication, Ben and Daniella Hoffer have made an indelible impact on CIS since their arrival in Springfield eight years ago. What is more, both individually and as a team they have contributed immeasurably to the growth of our community, by inspiring other young families to move here, and by enhancing the spiritual, educational and social opportunities all shul members now enjoy.
A native of Philadelphia, Daniella grew up in Edison, with her parents Alex and Debbi Diament, active members of Congregation Ahavas Achim. Ben was born in Bayonne, and moved to Springfield with his parents Emmy and David, and his brother Aaron, in 1989. As a direct result of the outpouring of warmth the Hoffers felt, they joined Congregation Israel of Springfield and quickly became a core family within the community.
Ben's dream was to help Springfield achieve its potential as a vibrant, growing Jewish community. In pursuit of this objective, he joined the membership committee of CIS and was subsequently elected to the Board of Trustees. He currently serves as chair of the committee and as Vice President of the shul. Over the years, Daniella and Ben have coordinated numerous programs for the mikvah, sisterhood, nursery school, and day camp.
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