Here's what's happening around the neighborhood with our Congregants and their families!

Congratulations to Stuart M. Debowsky, AIA, NCARB, a registered architect and owner of the Debowsky Design Group, who has been honored with the Family First award presented by Gentlemen's Journal, a fraternal organization which promotes concepts of “Family First, Business Second,” “Honor Above Profit” and “Be Your Brother’s Keeper.” Their annual awards gala was held August 17, 2019 at the UM Newman Alumni Center. DDG is a Miami-based architecture and interiors firm committed to design excellence, sensitivity to budget and sustainable building practices.

Emily Cohen, daughter of Michelle & Stephen Cohen, was featured in the August 5, 2019 edition of the Pinecrest Tribune's "Positive People in Pinecrest." An incoming Miami Palmetto Senior High School junior, Emily has made an impact through her work for the Miami Diaper Bank, where she collects new disposable diapers to be donated to low-income, struggling families with babies. “Diapers are not funded by the government. They are taxed and they are expensive. I collect them and they are distributed through the Diaper Bank to those in need,” she says. Emily hosted her first diaper drive in December 2018, and ran the collection drive through Key Club, where she is now serving as Assistant Treasurer. At Palmetto, she’s a Vice President for the class of 2021, and is VP of the English Honors Society. Emily is very involved with Temple Beth Am's Youth Group, BAFTY, where she is Communications VP.

Circuit Court Judge Scott M. Bernstein (far right) has been named 2019 recipient of the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence, honoring his service to and leadership within Florida's judicial branch. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady presented the award during a ceremony August 5, 2019 in Naples, Florida at the Conference of Circuit Court Judges of Florida. Scott was first elected to the bench in 1998, and now serves as administrative judge in the Family Division of Miami-Dade's Eleventh Judicial Circuit. He earned his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. A dozen of his colleagues signed a letter recommending Judge Bernstein for the award. "He has an amazing knowledge of the law," his fellow judges wrote.  "Whenever we have questions on a new or novel issue, or if we just need advice on how best to handle a difficult situation, Scott is the Judge we call."

The Miami Herald's Business Monday section on August 5, 2019 edition asked developers about Miami-Dade’s housing affordability crisis. Among the essays published was one by David Deutch, a partner and co-founder of Pinnacle Housing Group, which develops both affordable and luxury housing in Miami. Among the points in his essay, David writes that immediate actions that will make a difference in solving the current crisis include: Public sector assessment of policies and procedures affecting housing development; Expedited permitting and streamlined approval of projects; Freeing up more public land for affordable and workforce housing; Diligence in promoting and incentivizing communities that mix both incomes and uses within the same development; and The new House Bill 7103 by the Florida Legislature presents an opportunity to craft realistic goals along with meaningful incentives. Read article

Congratulations to the following attorneys, who were listed in the Top 100 Miami Area Lawyers and ranked in the 2019 edition of Florida Super Lawyers, as published on June 16, 2019: Brett M. Amron, Bast Amron; Michael S. Olin, Buckner + Miles; Jack R. Reiter, GrayRobinson; and Harley S. Tropin, Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Super Lawyers magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries.

Calling all medical professionals: Don’t miss your chance to visit Israel with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation! A Medical Mission to Israel has been scheduled for October 28–November 3, 2019. Chaired by Larry Spiegelman, M.D., the trip offers healthcare professionals a unique opportunity to see the Israeli medical and biotech sectors up close. Mission highlights include a visit to an IDF medical training base, a ride-along with Israel’s first responders and a high-level security briefing. Larry is an obstetrician-gynecologist affiliated with Baptist Health South Florida.

On May 31, 2019, Temple Beth Am celebrated a special Kabbalat Shabbat Service honoring all of our graduating high school seniors. Highlight of the service was presentation of the Gary Eisenberg Shem Tov Award to Ben Robbins, son of Molli & Jonathan Robbins. Honorable mentions were presented to Julia Damsky, daughter of Laura Weinfeld and Paul Damsky, and Andy Shodell, son of Ellen Schwartzbard & Matt Shodell. During the Graduating Seniors Shabbat, reflections from the March of the Living 2019 trip were shared by Leo Ratzan, son of Mycki & Stuart Ratzan. Congratulations to all of our high school seniors!

Susan Racher was one of the "Bold" speakers at The Women's Fund Miami Luncheon "Power of the Purse" on May 23, 2019 at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Susan, Vice President and CFO of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, is President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Miami Dade County, which provides education, support and advocacy for individuals living with mental health challenges and their families.

Yasher koach to Joshua Kaye, 2018–19 recipient of The Harry Gunther Service Award, presented at the Temple Beth Am Congregational Annual Meeting on May 19, 2019. The award recognizes a deserving Beth Am member who has worked for the benefit of the Temple community in a way which would be considered "above and beyond." Read more

YERS presented its annual Confirmation Shabbat on May 17, 2019, honoring the 18 members of the Confirmation Class of 5779/2018–19. During the service, special awards were presented to those Confirmands who excelled during the past year. Congratulations to the following 10th graders who were recognized: Erwin Lesser Award to Jordan Schmidt, son of Dianne & Ed Schmidt, and Robbie Mazer, son of Jodi & Jason Mazer; Mark Light Award to Maia Snyder, daughter of Marti & Roger Snyder; and Jeremiah Award to Camila Djurinsky Zapolski, daughter of Sandra & Fabian Djurinsky Zapolski. Watch the Confirmation Shabbat

Temple Beth Am is so proud of the high school seniors nominated for the Miami Herald's 2019 Silver Knight Awards and who were honored at a ceremony May 16, 2019. Among this year’s nominees within the 15 categories were: Joseph Kravetz (Miami Palmetto Senior High), grandson of Merle Kravetz, who was recognized with an Honorable Mention in Speech; Aliya Hollub (Ransom Everglades); daughter of Amy & Harry Hollub, Arts; Rachel Seymour-Newton (Coral Reef Senior High), daughter of Jaime & Rupert Seymour-Newton, Journalism; Matthew Solomon (Miami Palmetto Senior High), son of Staci & Steven Solomon and grandson of Lorraine & Bobby Schatzman, Mathematics; and Milena van der Reis (Miami Palmetto Senior High), daughter of Elise & Danny van der Reis, Athletics.

The Silver Knight recognizes outstanding students who have not only maintained good grades but also have unselfishly applied their special knowledge and talents to contribute significant community service. The program was instituted in 1959 by John S. Knight, past publisher of the Miami Herald, founder and editor emeritus of Knight-Ridder Newspapers and 1968 Pulitzer Prize winner. The program is open to seniors with a minimum unweighted 3.2 GPA in public, private and parochial schools in Miami-Dade and Broward.

Mazel tov to Ilene Kossman, who was installed as President of Women’s Philanthropy of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation at its Annual Meeting and Installation on May 15, 2019. Some 100 women gathered at the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center to recognize Board members for their dedication and service. Ilene previously served on the Executive Board as Campaign Chairman for Women's Philanthropy, an inspiring group of women who provide leadership and are united by a passion for the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and to the common goals of providing for the welfare of the Jewish people.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Miami and Broward presented its 2019 Judge Learned Hand Award on May 14, 2019, honoring Miami attorney Mark F. Raymond. Among those serving as Dinner Co-Chairs were: Scott L. Baena, Edward Blumberg, Edith G. Osman, Aaron S. Podhurst (2015 recipient) and Richard A. Pollack. Established in 1964, the award recognizes legal professionals for excellence and contributions to the legal community. Recipients embody much of what the Judge represented: the rights of the individual and the importance of democratic values in an orderly society. Judge Hand (pictured above right), who was Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1951–1961, has been quoted more often by scholars and the Supreme Court than any other lower-court judge.

The Miami Herald has launched its Influencers Series to discuss state issues before the 2020 election cycle. Now in its second year, the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and the Bradenton Herald are promoting a discussion about the important issues facing the state of Florida, and has assembled a panel of 50 influential Floridians from a variety of industries and perspectives who will offer their views through the end of the year. Among the "Influencers" is Dr. Julio Frenk, President of the University of Miami.

Congratulations to Jonathan I. Kislak, who on April 5, 2019 was honored with the annual Dr. Lenore Kipper Talmud Torah Award, recognizing a congregant who has contributed significantly to the Temple by engaging thoughtfully in our adult education programs. Read more

John C. Sumberg was one of the six honorees who were recognized on March 23, 2019 at the 2019 MCCJ Humanitarian Dinner & Silver Medallion Awards presentation at the Intercontinental Miami. John, Chairman of the Bilzin Sumberg law firm, where he leads the business and strategic operations, was honored in appreciation of those who have helped to build a more welcoming, inclusive, just and cooperative society. MCCJ was founded in 1935 as the Miami branch of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Since 2011, it has been known only as MCCJ.

Yasher koach to Edward Beiner, founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear, who was selected as the winner of Vision Expo's 2nd Annual OPTImum Retail Award. His award was announced during a Boutique Buyer Panel on March 23, 2019, at Vision Expo East in New York City. Ed was one of five finalists. To determine the finalists, a committee of the industry’s top leaders deliberated and voted on which stories they feel are most deserving of the award. Click here to read more about the finalists

Lani Kahn Drody, President of Lowell International Realty, served as Host Committee Chair of Baptist Health South Florida's "The Grand Gala" on March 16, 2019, raising more than $6.5 million to benefit the organization’s activities in South Florida. The Gala, which is Baptist Health's leading fundraising event, was attended by more than 2,000 guests at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The Temple Beth Am Day School Annual Auction on March 14, 2019 was a great success, featuring a host of silent and live auction items, including original art pieces created by the students of both the Early Childhood Center and Elementary School. A special shout-out to our dynamic Auction Co-Chairs Jenny Efron-Duffy and Lauren Schwartz, and to the other amazing chairs who helped ensure that the auction was a magnificent celebration.

Andrew H. Wolf, an independent insurance consultant with 35 years experience, was honored at Philanthropy Miami's 22nd annual "Donor Next Door" Luncheon on March 13, 2019. Andy, a member of Temple Beth Am's Board of Directors, is Chair of Federation's South Dade Branch and previously served as Chair of the Professional Advisors Council of The Foundation of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Each year, Temple Beth Am is proud to recognize an outstanding family of volunteers. Yasher koach to the Moskowitz Family — Jessica, Adam, Serafina, Michael and Samantha — who were honored on March 10, 2019 as recipients of the Committee of 100’s 2019 “Family of the Year” Award, for their continued participation in our Temple community and their ongoing commitment to congregational leadership. Read article

Dorothy & Aaron Podhurst were honored at the PAMM Art of the Party presented by Valentino on March 9, 2019. The event is the Pérez Art Museum Miami's largest fundraiser event of the year. The Podhursts have been helping to shape the cultural landscape in Miami for more than three decades. As Chairman of PAMM for the majority of that time, Aaron currently Chairs the Executive Committee. Together, they were among the visionary founders and leaders whose generosity and unwavering commitment helped PAMM grow from its inception as the Center for the Fine Arts into a world-class cultural destination.

Leslie Miller Saiontz moderated United Way of Miami-Dade’s 18th annual Women United Breakfast on February 22, 2019 at the Watsco Center at the University of Miami. The breakfast featured keynote speaker Indra Nooyi, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. Elizabeth Leight, Psy.D., was among the Table Hosts. Leslie is founder of Achieve Miami, a foundation that launches, scales, and develops programs that narrow the achievement gap.

Oliver Friedland, son of Julie & David Friedland, was a contestant in the 79th annual Miami Herald Spelling Bee competition on February 19, 2019. This year, 166 spellers from elementary and middle schools in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties gathered at the University of Miami’s Donna Shalala Student Center to test their skills. Students began with a written test — 30 words to spell and 10 vocabulary questions. All of the spellers then went on stage to spell a word. Oliver is a 5th grader at Pinecrest Elementary School, where he qualified for the Herald competition after becoming School Spelling Champion earlier in the year.

Mazel tov to Jordan Schmidt (left), winner of the 2019 Anselm Rothschild Memorial Song Competition at NFTY's (North American Federation of Temple Youth) 2019 National Convention in Dallas February 15–18, 2019. Jordan, a 10th grader at Gulliver Preparatory School and son of Dianne & Ed Schmidt, co-wrote "Lo alecha ha m'lacha ligmor" with co-winner Jacob Fishman (right) from Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa. Their song is an interpretation of a text from Pirke Avot 2:21: "You are not expected to complete the task but neither are you free to desist from it." Jordan also was one of the NFTY-STR song leaders at the Dallas convention, attended by some 1,000 teen leaders, college students, Jewish educators and alumni. He is a member of our 2019 Confirmation Class. Watch video

Darin Schatzman, CPA, MBA, PRP, a Senior Benefits Consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., has been chosen as Chair-Elect of the University of Florida Hillel’s Board of Directors. He will be installed as Chair in July 2020. Darin has remained an active UF alum since earning his Bachelor's in Accounting in 1988. UF Hillel is listed among America’s top 50 innovative Jewish organizations, and has been acknowledged for shifting its programming model, focusing on training future leaders to positively impact the world through a Jewish lens. The Gainesville Hillel serves the largest population of Jewish students in the country.

Huracán, a filmed-in-Miami psychological thriller about an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter with Multiple Personality Disorder, was selected as an entry in the 2019 Miami Film Festival and had its premiere on March 8, 2019 at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami. The film marked the debut of director Cassius Corrigan (Steven Fine), son of Victoria Corrigan Fine & the Hon. Alan Fine, who are among the executive producers of Huracán. Cassius, who also stars in, and wrote and produced the film, is a graduate of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, where he completed with honors the Directing Intensive program instructed by Oscar-nominated director Michael Toshiyuki Uno. Tickets here

Adam M. Moskowitz served as Topics Coordinator for a National Town Hall Meeting Addressing Addiction, Anxiety & Depression in the Legal Profession February 28–March 1, 2019. The conference, presented by the Bolch Judicial Institute of Duke Law School, University of Miami and Dade County Bar Association, was held at the UM Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables. This event brought together top medical experts, judges and legal practitioners from around the country to discuss and highlight these life-threatening issues, to examine the recommendations of the American Bar Association's National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, and to identify the most promising best practices for the bench and bar. Adam, founding partner of The Moskowitz Law Firm, is in his 26th year on the faculty at the University of Miami School of Law teaching Class Action Litigation.

On February 12, 2019, more than 1,000 people came together at the Hilton Hotel Downtown for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's The Main Event 2019, an annual celebration of Miami’s Jewish community and its commitment to helping Jewish people in need in Miami, in Israel and around the world. Sandy & Jay Halpern (far left) and Susan & Ray Malca wee among those serving as Vice Chairs of The Main Event, which honoed Ambassador Nikki Haley with the 2019 Friend of Israel Humanitarian Award.

Jack H. Levine, broker and president of Levine Realty, Inc., was honored on February 1, 2019 by the Miami Association of Realtors at the Industry Leaders & Awards luncheon with its 2018 Advocate of the Year award. Jack was 2011 Chairman of the Board and presently serves as treasurer of the Miami Association of Realtors, representing over 46,000 Realtors in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. He was recognized as Realtor of the Year in 2006 and 2010 by Miami Realtors, and was the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Leadership Award and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to Laura Haim, a math teacher at Pinecrest Elementary School and daughter of Evelyn & Bruce Greer, who was honored with the 2020 Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade County Rookie Teacher of the Year award, presented by the Miami-Dade School District on January 31, 2019. Laura is a homegrown success, beginning her career teaching math and science at the school she attended as a child: Pinecrest Elementary. Her mother, Evelyn, is a former Miami-Dade School Board member and former Pinecrest Mayor.

The advanced orchestra at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest doesn’t usually accept freshmen, but the band director made an exception for the exceptional redheaded violin player, Daniel Solomon, son of Staci & Steven Solomon and grandson of Lorraine & Bobby Schatzman. You have to look carefully to realize the boy with the thick glasses is legally blind. Freshman class treasurer, Daniel is always busy, always finding ways to navigate the challenges of high school. In seventh and eighth grades at Palmetto Middle, he organized band concerts which raised over $5,000 for his school’s music program. Daniel is in the midst of organizing a bigger event this year, and he also started a mentoring program, persuading his orchestra peers to visit middle school musicians every week. “I think of myself as an advocate for people with disabilities,” he says. Watch video of Daniel on NBC News on January 18, 2019

Yasher koach to Les Oppenheim (and Catering by Les) for winning the “Golden Latke” award competition on November 29, 2018, at Vi at Aventura, a senior living community. Local delis and top area caterers presented their signature latkes and were judged by a panel of local media representatives and community leaders. Vi at Aventura residents donated $500 to Les' charity of choice. Watch video

Karen & Alan Serure served as Co-Chairs of the UM Hillel Casino Night on November 29, 2018 at University of Miami Hillel: Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life, 1100 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables. The Braman Miller Center is a hub for innovation, social entrepreneurship and celebration of Jewish life at the University of Miami. It is a leading venue for engaging and thoughtful conversations, renowned guest speakers, hands-on workshops and international conferences. Alan serves on the UM Hillel Board of Directors.

Congratulations to Frank D. Marks, Sc.D., who has been honored with NOAA's Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Dr. Daniel L. Albritton Outstanding Science Communicator Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating the meaning and value of NOAA-related science and research to non-scientific audiences. Director of the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Frank was cited for outstanding communication of NOAA research and its relevance to the American public. His work to advance the state of tropical cyclone knowledge has fostered improvements in ground-based, airborne and spaceborne radar technology, data analysis and numerical modeling. His role as Co-Chair of the NOAA Hurricane Irene Service Assessment team has contributed to increased interaction between stakeholders and the storm-affected public, as well as the development of recommendations for NOAA and NWS to improve communications of the risks to our customers.

Rebecca & Arnaud Karsenti served as Chairs of The Pacesetter Event of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, December 13, 2018 at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Headlining the event was Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., renowned lecturer and New York Times-bestselling author. The Pacesetter Event is one of the most important yearly gatherings for the annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign, and raises millions of dollars to support vital social services in Miami, in Israel and around the world.

William C. Sussman, Esq. was honored by Legal Services of Greater Miami with its "Legal Justice Pro Bono Small-Solo Firm Award" at a reception at City National Bank in Coral Gables on October 25, 2018. Legal Services of Greater Miami provides free civil legal services for the low-income communities of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties and is recognized as one of the most outstanding legal services programs. Bill is a longtime volunteer at Temple Beth Am, providing comfort to patients and their families through visitation to local area hospitals.

From October 14–19, 2018, a delegation of 20 American congregational rabbis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss ways of mending relations, which have come under unprecedented strain in recent years. The mission was organized with the help of Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., who was born and raised in Miami Beach. In an effort to resolve a crisis with Reform and Conservative Jews in the United States, the Israeli government decided to bypass the movements’ leadership and reached out directly to congregational rabbis viewed as less critical of its policies. The participants spent four days meeting with Netanyahu, as well as in discussions with Michael Oren, a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and with opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Representing South Florida were (from left): Rabbi Fred Klein, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami; Judith L. Siegal, Senior Rabbi of Temple Judea in Coral Gables; and our own Jeremy Barras, Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am, Pinecrest. Read more

Yasher koach to the Mendelson Family — including Lisa & Victor Mendelson — who were honored by AJC Miami and Broward at its 2018 National Human Relations Award Dinner on December 11, 2018 at Jungle Island, Miami. They were recognized for their good works in the community and beyond, and for their generosity of spirit. Among the Dinner Chairs and Co-Chairs were Aaron S. Podhurst, and Yolanda & Jeffrey Berkowitz. AJC is the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, with 33 offices worldwide, plus partnerships with 36 international Jewish community organizations.

Pamela Lear, immediate Past President of Sisterhood of Temple Beth Am, was installed on October 20, 2018 as VP/Marketing of the Women of Reform Judaism Southeast District for 2018–19. WRJ Southeast held its Biennial Conference at the Miami Marriott Dadeland October 18–21, 2018. WRJ, established in 1913, is the women's affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, and now represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women's groups in North America, Israel and around the world.

The Miami Herald published an article on October 20, 2018 about Brock Osweiler, who replaced Ryan Tannehill as Miami Dolphins quarterback — "The Mind of Brock: How a national punching bag put together the game of his life." Quoted in the article was Bill Aronson (left), a former military psychologist who now teaches sports and development psychology at FIU. "Osweiler is a special case, a lot of people would bail out and quit,” Bill said. “He’s able to hang in there. He has intrinsic motivation.” He has followed Osweiler’s up-and-down career since the beginning, and believes the quarterback has an innate inner strength that has been bolstered by supportive family, teammates and coaches. “He’s learned from those losses and those cuts and excelled.”

Above (from left), Jack Young, Joaquin Levy and Danny Lang were featured in a CBS4 Miami news report.

A group of BAFTY 78 students teamed up with the Miami Dolphins Football Unites Captains Program and Feeding South Florida to pack boxes of food to help the 700,000 people who go to bed hungry in South Florida each night. Football Unites is a diversity and inclusion initiative that brings school students from various backgrounds together once a month for a day of learning about tolerance, acceptance and leadership. Roughly six dozen students participated in the event on October 9, 2018. Among our BAFTY 78 team were Danny Lang, son of Beth & Chad Lang, Joaquin Levy, son of Nancy & Adam Levy, and Jack Young, son of Marisa & Josh Young. Click here to watch news report

   Baptist Health South Florida embarked on a promotional campaign in October 2018 — "Embrace tomorrow by getting your mammogram today" — featuring two congregants who are survivors of breast cancer. Interviews with Rabbi Rachel Greengrass and Jodi Mazer are used in a compelling video, and their images and comments are part of a series of full-page newspaper ads. We are so proud that they have shared their personal stories to help others in the community to be proactive in seeking preventative measures. Click here to view video

REMEMBER TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP!  •  If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2019–20, please do so at your earliest convenience. Click here for Online Membership Renewal