UJFT convenes Biennial Meeting: Miles Leon installed as president

by | Jun 7, 2013 | Featured

Miles Leon and Jay Klebanoff.

Miles Leon and Jay Klebanoff.

On Monday, June 3, 2013, Alvin Wall called to order a meeting of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater (UJFT) for the last time as its president.

That evening on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus, the UJFT’s biennial meeting saw the installation of a new president, acknowledged outgoing committee chairs for their service, honored new, renewing, continuing and “retiring” board members and bestowed community awards. Approximately 130 members of the community attended.

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz of Congregation Beth El began the evening with a d’var torah which was full of humor and insight—a combination that proved to be a theme for the evening.

Wall delivered remarks in which he reviewed the past two years. He told the crowd “I’ve been honored to get to work with a lot of people and to see first-hand how passionate they are about what they do. It’s that passion that makes our community extraordinary. It’s what makes us more than the sum of our parts.”

Ron Kramer praised Wall’s tenure as president and presented him with an award in recognition of his service, all while teasing him about his golf game—another theme of the evening.

Arnold Leon installed his son, Miles Leon, as the UJFT president with an introduction that remembered an older generation of leaders in this community. The younger Leon accepted the presidency and several hugs from his father. He will serve in that role until 2015.

As his first act as president, Leon addressed the community, stating “We have a lot of things other communities just don’t have.” He joked that his predecessor told him he needed to articulate a vision for the future and flashed the crowd a thick manuscript labeled “Our Vision,” closing with a promise to tackle the hard work ahead together with his board and the rest of the community.

Leon then took the time to recognize the service of Alicia London Friedman, outgoing chair of the Holocaust Commission, Laura Geringer Gross, outgoing chair of the Women’s Campaign, Jay Klebanoff, the 2010–2012 General Campaign chair and Miriam Seeherman, the outgoing chair of the Community Relations Council.

Lonny Sarfan, chair of the UJFT nominating committee, presented the committee’s recommendations for new and continuing board members. Of the slate of new members, Sarfan stated “Tonight we present a slate of officers well-suited to lead our community forward into the future.”

Harry Graber, executive vice president of the UJFT, presented a state-of-the-community briefing in which, in addition to teasing Wall about his golf game, remarked, “I don’t know of any Federation executive in the country who continues to perform his duties in partnership with as many remarkable lay leaders as I do.”

Some of those leaders were honored that night with awards from the Federation for their service. Bobby Copeland presented the Joseph H. “Buddy” Strelitz Community Service Award to Kurt Rosenbach, speaking extemporaneously and from the heart about Rosenbach’s long and storied involvement in the Jewish community. Copeland assured Rosenbach—and the crowd—that Buddy Strelitz would have been delighted with the choice of Rosenbach for the award, noting the parrallels between the two men, and suggesting that “Buddy is smiling down on us now.” Rosenbach accepted the award before a standing ovation.

Joyce Strelitz presented the Leonard R. Strelitz Young Leadership Award to Marc Abrams, who serves as the UJFT Young Leadership Campaign chair, and Jason Hoffman, who is completing a stint as chair of the UJFT Young Adult Division Cabinet.

On behalf of the community, Annie Sandler thanked Karen Lombart for the work she’s done in the pages of the Jewish News through her “Face-to-Face” column (see page 26 for the latest installment), presenting her with an award of recognition, and assuring her “just because you receive this award tonight, doesn’t mean you have to stop writing ‘Face-to-Face.’ If you continue writing, we will continue reading.”

The evening ended with the Jewish News’ own Terri Denison receiving the Jewish Communal Professional Award from Graber to another standing ovation from the crowd.

View more photos from the event here

by Tracie Guy Decker
photographs by Laine Mednick Rutherford