2023 UJFT Biennial Meeting honored past and present leadership and volunteers

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Featured

John Strelitz with winners of the Joseph H. Strelitz Community Service Award.

The Marty Einhorn Pavilion on the Sandler Family Campus was the setting for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2023 Biennial Meeting on Wednesday, June 14. After a 30-minute reception, the meeting began at 7 pm.

Nearly 150 members of Jewish Tidewater turned out to recognize outgoing and incoming leadership and to help honor those receiving awards.

Laura Geringer Gross, outgoing president, delivered a comprehensive speech noting all the community had accomplished over the past two years, while extending appreciation to both UJFT’s board of directors and the Federation’s staff.  She also noted how close the Community Campaign was to reaching $5 million in gifts. “The strength of our campaign is due to the generosity of our community members and allows us to fund the initiatives you hear about tonight, the needs of our local institutions and agencies, programming that builds community, and especially, to help vulnerable Jews and Jewish communities throughout the world,” she said.

David Leon, newly installed president, immediately picked up on that theme, and with a smile, offered “to take all complaints now” in exchange for the less than $50,000 needed to achieve the $5 million mark.

John Strelitz presented the Joseph H. Strelitz Community Service Awards to volunteers from area congregations and agencies.

The award, Strelitz said, is “named for Joseph “Buddy” Strelitz, my dad, whose devotion to his people touched so many lives on so many levels.  We continue to feel Buddy’s presence in the work he accomplished here.  This award, in his memory, honors those in the community who share his convictions and strive to emulate his standards.  Buddy always taught that leadership and responsibility is ongoing.”

Recipients included:

• Tehilla Mostofsky: Bina School for Girls, a consistent leader for the school.

• Jeff Brooke: B’nai Israel Congregation, president for six years.

• Vergie McCall: Beth Sholom Village, long-time volunteer.

• Jim Hibberd: Congregation Beth Chaverim, cantor for the congregation for more than 20 years.

• Herm Shelanski: Congregation Beth El, tremendous work as the security chair and leader for the temple.

• Bernie Mayer: Jewish Family Service, volunteer for 23 years.

• Alan Shapiro and Bruce Finkelstein: Kempsville Conservative Synagogue (KBH)- going above and beyond, including their own certifications and training to provide excellent security for the synagogue.

• Margaret Sawyer: Ohef Sholom Temple, exemplary service as board member, sisterhood co-president, and volunteer.

• Melissa and Aaron Kass: Strelitz International Academy, leadership by example serving the school as a board member and devoted parent volunteers.

• Jody Wagner: Tidewater Jewish Foundation, past president and chair of strategic planning process.

• Jason Lovitz: Temple Emanuel, past president, leading the temple through the pandemic, a rabbi search, period without a rabbi and organizing lay leaders to lead services until Rabbi Ari’s arrival.

• Mark Solberg: Temple Israel, a mensch who gets things done.  Whether it’s ensuring shul security or leading zoom minyan, he leads when called upon.

• Rabbi Gershon Litt: Toras Chaim, above and beyond to sustain school, now co-president.

In addition to her remarks, Betty Ann Levin, executive vice president/CEO UJFT/Simon Family JCC, presented the Harry Graber Jewish Communal Professional Award to Randy Parish, CFO of Tidewater Jewish Foundation. The award is presented at each biennial meeting in recognition of those professionally engaged in Jewish communal service who, through their dedication, exemplify the highest ideals of Judaism.

“A native of Norfolk, Randy has been an invaluable member of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation team for the past 14 years,” said Levin. “With over 25 years of experience in healthcare, non-profit financial management, and municipal government, Randy brings a wealth of expertise to his role as Chief Financial Officer of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. Friendships and relationships made with peers in the Jewish community during his middle and high school years, have been enhanced through his long tenure of working for the Foundation.”

As promised, the meeting concluded just before 8 pm.

-Terri Denison