Comptroller William Thompson Highlights Jewish Heritage
Scores of people recently gathered at City Chambers for a spiritually rich evening—sponsored by NYC Comptroller William C. Thompson as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty—celebrating Jewish Heritage and honoring the contributions of leaders in the world of education, theatre, journalism and publishing.
Comptroller Thompson described the evening as taking place to “celebrate the wonderful diversity, and the rich and tremendous vitality of the Jewish Community of New York.”
Gayle Horwitz, Deputy Comptroller/Chief of Staff, underscored the significance of celebrating Jewish Heritage during the Chanukah season as the holiday, with the special lighting of the Menorah, presents a “time to reflect on our inner flame…A time to divest ourselves of everything…And each of the honorees has taken time to reflect on these very questions.”
In presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Gerald Schoenfeld, Chairman of the Board of Schubert organization, Inc. the Comptroller described Schoenfeld as “throughout his career bringing vision, dedication and expertise to the world of New York theatre and world of New York City.” Comptroller further praised him as a “man for all seasons.”
Schoenfeld, in receiving the award, paid tribute to those who selflessly stand for worthy missions, such as Thompson’s efforts to counter selling of counterfeit products: “It’s not often that someone who is in the public sector takes a position with respect to causes that are not popular.”
Jerry Greenwald, General Manager and Managing Editor of the Jewish Press—earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from City College and worked with the Israeli Air Force on F-15 fighter ground support in the late 1970s. He plays an active role in Jewish Community activities.
Introducing the next honoree, Dr. Charlotte K. Frank, Sr. VP, McGraw-Hill and Regent Emeritus, Thompson recalled how while he was a member and President of NYC Board of Education, “No one fought harder for New York city school children. And if you wanted to find out how things were going to affect more than 1 million children in public schools Charlotte was the person to go to.”
Dr. Frank described the theme of Tikun Olam, that Jews are here to mend the world and that no matter where she was, in public schools, or in the private sector, the people around her all wanted to make a difference.
Honoree Dr. Bernard Lander, President of Touro College, was praised by the Comptroller as “working to improve higher education in New York City and around the world.” Opening the first campus in 1971, there are now international campuses—in Moscow, Israel and Berlin, as well as in underprivileged areas.
Dr. Lander served as the first Commissioner of Human Rights for the city of New York and as consultant to three presidents. He continued Dr. Frank’s message of Tikun Olam: “we share the belief that the world is committed to help all that need help,” in contrast to previous societies, even educated societies, such as Athens during Plato’s time, where the poor were excluded.
David Mandel, Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services— an organization which has been serving the Jewish Community and Metropolitan area of NY since 1969, providing services to children and adults with mental illness or disabilities and to families in crisis—was presented by Comptroller Thompson with an award “in recognition of his outstanding commitment to providing much needed service to the community.”
The evening was further enhanced with a rich a cappella performance of the Yeshiva of Flatbush Choir, under the direction of the talented Daniel Henkin, who has played an active role in pioneering the Jewish a cappella movement.
Noting how Halacha (Jewish law) accommodates differing perspectives and views, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the NY Board of Rabbis, summed up the evening by underscoring mutual respect and celebration of each other’s differences and accomplishments.#