BINA High School celebrated its 10-year anniversary honoring Amy Brooke on Dec. 9 and 10. Many alumni returned to Norfolk to be a part of the celebration, travelling from New York, New Jersey, and Maryland—several with young families—to catch up with their old community and to give current students some words of wisdom.
Although more than 250 people attended, the Friday night dinner maintained a warm and cozy Shabbos atmosphere with First Class Caterers of New York providing a culinary treat. Rabbi Sender Haber, Tehilla Mostofsky, president, and Aviva Harpaz, head of school, all spoke about BINA and how fortunate the community feels to have such a fine institution in Tidewater. Ellya Suissa, a BINA senior from Virginia Beach, spoke about how BINA has helped to shape her life, how important it is to do chesed in the community, and how BINA creates opportunities for students to make helping others part of their lives.
Saturday night’s Melave Malka had a festive flair as Amy Brooke was honored for her dedication and commitment to make the dream of a Jewish girls’ high school in Tidewater a reality. The Melave Malka reception, decked out in purple, teal, black, and white geometrics had stations of New York style food with a dessert table where one choice was more tempting than the next.
With Jeff Brooke emceeing the evening for his wife, the focus was on Amy Brooke’s accomplishments. Rabbi Haber began by speaking about Brooke’s tenacity in ensuring that BINA High School would be a viable option for local girls. Through her tireless efforts, she actualized the vision of BINA by raising money, purchasing supplies and furniture, hiring staff, and procuring space at Ohef Sholom Temple to rent. Leah Schwartz, longtime friend of Brooke’s and the first president of BINA, spoke about the many hours they spent bringing the many details of opening a school into fruition. Schwartz, who traveled from New York to attend the event, was filled with tears of pride for her dear friend and the progress of BINA High School in 10 short years.
Chana Brooke spoke both as a daughter and as an alumna. Amy Brooke then spoke about the importance of starting a high school for Tidewater’s Jewish young women who chose to continue their Judaic education. She spoke of her mother, Ann Zukerman (of blessed memory), who stood beside her and became a cheerleader for BINA, and a major supporter through all her years. She also spoke with pride about the conception of BINA and all those that helped to make it happen.
A tribute journal was downloaded onto thumb drives and given to guests. The ads honoring Amy Brooke all had a similar theme—She has an incredible drive and has shown that it is possible to move mountains with the proper drive and dedication.
The weekend was chaired by Amy Lefcoe, along with a hard working committee.