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

Laura Koffsky is among four honorees who will be recognized at the CAJE “Comedy for a Cause” Community-Wide Celebration, rescheduled as a virtual event on Thursday, October 29, 2020, from 7:30–9:00 pm. Among the Event Co-Chairs are Nadine & Sidney Pertnoy. Proceeds will go toward Miami’s Leo Martin March of the Living, an identity-building program that uses Poland and Israel as a platform to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred.

Scott Mendlestein has been named to the board of directors of Camp Laurelwood, a Jewish summer camp in Madison, Connecticut founded in 1937. Scott is a shareholder in the South Florida law firm Falk, Waas, Hernandez, Solomon, Mendlestein & Davis, P. A., and practices in the area of medical negligence, general liability, premises liability, auto negligence and civil forfeiture.

Clients of Miami attorney Roberta Mandel are happy she didn't follow her mother's advice. In a profile "Women Don’t Become Attorneys" in the June 2020 Florida edition of Super Lawyers, Roberta shared her journey from housewife and mother to real estate, to law school student to full-time attorney, and 700 appellate law cases later, to a richly varied solo practice, Mandel Law Group. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David Young knows her personally and professionally. “As a lawyer,” he says, “she's just brilliant. She is very detail-oriented, and that helps her in her private life and also as a lawyer, because she doesn't leave any i's undotted or t’s not crossed." Another lifelong passion, Roberta says: "My dream, when I retire, is actually to open a not-for-profit animal rescue for senior dogs that nobody wants."

The June 9, 2020 edition of the Miami Herald's Op-Ed pages featured an article written about persecution — "As Muslims and Jews, we understand persecution and vow to fight racism in Miami." The piece was written on behalf of ADL Florida Region, AJC Miami and Broward, Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations, Hadassah Greater Miami, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, MCCJ, Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board, Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, National Council of Jewish Women Miami, The Children’s Trust and United Way of Miami-Dade. Authors were Imam Abdul Hamid Samra, Religious Director of the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, and Tracey Spiegelman, Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and Executive Vice President of Temple Beth Am.

On June 5, 2020, Temple Beth Am celebrated a special virtual 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 Amy Kaplan, daughter of Reina & Neil Kaplan. Honorable mentions were presented to Mackenzie Farkas, daughter of Julianne & Dan Farkas, and Samantha Hawkins, daughter of Lauren & Eric Hawkins. Congratulations to all of our high school seniors!

Hurricane researchers believe they have discovered another contributor to the intensity of some hurricanes as they travel through the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea: surface lenses of freshwater created by the Mississippi, Orinoco and Amazon rivers. In an article published in The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) on May 31, 2020, Frank Marks Jr., Director of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, discussed how Atlantic hurricanes gain much of their energy from the warmth contained in surface water in the Gulf, Caribbean and Atlantic oceans. "But recent research, developed in part using remotely operated ocean gliders that measure temperature and salinity levels from the surface to 2,000 feet or more below, shows that the outflow of major rivers like the Mississippi can create lenses of long-lasting freshwater at the surface that block or slow the hurricane's ability to draw up deeper saltwater," he said. Above right, Frank is pictured In 2019 in the cockpit of a research plane heading into a hurricane.

Congratualtions to Lily Serviansky, who has been named Chair of the Board of the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), which is dedicated to building and strengthening Jewish learning across the entire spectrum of Jewish education in Miami-Dade County: early childhood programs, congregational religious schools, day schools, teens and adult education. CAJE builds on its strength of using leadership development and professional learning as a lever for impactful change in Jewish education. Also serving on the CAJE board are Melissa Buckner, Jodi Hessel and Daniela Zanzuri.

YERS presented a virtual Confirmation Ceremony on May 30, 2020, honoring the 22 members of the Confirmation Class of 5780/2019–20. During the Zoom ceremony, 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 Allison Gould, daughter of Jennifer & Barry Gould; Mark Light Award to Sabrina Byrne, daughter of Marlo Byrne; and Jeremiah Award to Leah Brodkey, daughter of Maggie & Michael Brodkey, and Daniel Solomon, son of Staci & Steven Solomon.

Temple Beth Am is so proud of the high school seniors nominated for the Miami Herald's 2020 Silver Knight Awards and who were honored at a special virtual ceremony May 28, 2020. Among this year’s nominees within the 15 categories were: Rachel Kaplan (Riviera Preparatory School), daughter of Michele & Paul Kaplan, who was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the General Scholarship category. Also, Mia Brochin (Riviera Prep), daughter of Christina & Bobby Brochin, Athletics; Mackenzie Farkas (Miami Palmetto Senior High), daughter of Julianne & Dan Farkas, Journalism; Evan Golinsky (Miami Palmetto Senior High), son of Myrna and the late Dan Golinsky, Speech; and Samantha Hawkins (Miami Coral Reef Senior High), daughter of Lauren & Eric Hawkins, Art.

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.

Women’s Philanthropy of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation held its Annual Meeting and Installation via Zoom on May 21, 2020, and installed Ilene Kossman as its President for 2020–2021. As part of her remarks, Ilene shared this year’s theme from Elie Wiesel: “To be a Jew means to be present whenever our presence is needed by other Jews.” Other congregants who were installed include: Melissa Buckner, Vice President Area Campaign Development (South Dade); and Susan Meister and Alisa Oppenheim, Members-at-Large. Ilene recognized the philanthropic strength of Miami’s Jewish women, highlighting that that their giving accounts for approximately one-third of the Annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign, totaling close to $8 million.

The rich tradition of storytelling is at the heart of Judaism, and the URJ’s Stories We Tell podcast gives us a fresh way to celebrate these stories that we grew up with, that are passed down through our families and our teachers. On May 21, 2020, our own Rabbi Rachel Greengrass told the story about an eagle who thought she was a chicken, which asks us to think when we have to determine who we truly are. On April 30, 2020, Rabbi Greengrass shared the story about two frogs who were in this exact same situation. Listen to Two Frogs and a Little Encouragement / Hear The Eagle Who Thought She was a Chicken

Yasher koach to Carolina Gurland, 2019–20 recipient of The Harry Gunther Service Award, presented at the virtual Temple Beth Am Congregational Annual Meeting on May 17, 2020. 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

Robb Steinberg was installed in May 2020 as Chair of the UM Hillel Board of Directors. The Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life the University of Miami in Coral Gables serves more than 2,000 Jewish students on campus. Robb, Founder and Director of Product of TrialWorks LLC, says: "As a UM alum, I am thrilled that my son (Ryan) is attending UM. When I was asked if I wanted to get involved as a parent and an alum, I was excited and honored to participate in an organization that enriches the lives of Jewish students on campus.”

Jared & Adam Olster, sons of Jill & Ron Olster, sixth-grade students at Miami Palmetto Middle School, will become B'nai Mitzvah in October 2020. As part of their mitzvah project, they decided to do something good for the community during the pandemic crisis and make a difference. They designed a t-shirt thanking all of our brave frontline heroes and ordered 200 t-shirts to sell. They can't believe the outpouring of support they have had! They are donating 100% of the proceeds to Feeding South Florida and so far have raised over $3,500! We are so proud of them! To order one, call Jill at 305.318.5325.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Miami and Broward will present its 2020 Judge Learned Hand Award to Steven J. Brodie. A dinner honoring him was to be held on May 12, 2020, but has been postponed. Steve is Co-Managing Shareholder of Carlton Fields' Miami office. Among the Dinner Co-Chairs are Robert G. Berrin and past award recipient Aaron S. Podhurst. 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.

Ethan Josefsberg, son of Joelle & David Josefsberg, was featured in the April 27, 2020 edition of the Pinecrest Tribune's "Positive People in Pinecrest."  A Miami Palmetto Senior High School junior, Ethan played basketball his first two years in high school, and this year switched to lacrosse. He is a National Merit Scholar and Bright Futures Scholar, and serves as VP/Finance for the Tutoring for Tomorrow organization, the student-run non-profit that provides tutors for children of all ages.

Measures to contain the spread of coronavirus are still shifting by the day — and so are responses by investors, developers, builders, banks and buyers. To track the impact in real-time, the Miami Herald column RE|source Miami on April 24, 2020 asked area real estate professionals in various sectors for on-the-ground reports. Among the respondents were Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, CEO and President of Carrfour Supportive Housing, and Arnaud Karsenti, Managing Principal of Miami-based real estate investment and development firm 13th Floor Investments.

When asked, What immediate impact are you seeing on affordable housing as a result of COVID-19?, Stephanie replied: "True affordable housing, which is affordable to the neediest in our community, operates with little to no cash flow. Operators such as Carrfour are already feeling the impact of increased expenses such as escalating costs for cleaning and supplies while facing a significant reduction in rent collection due to residents experiencing financial hardships. Another immediate impact is a spike in demand for affordable housing." Read more

Arnaud's response to As someone whose investment firm grew during the Great Recession, how does the current economic slowdown compare to the last cycle?: "13th Floor Investments launched in 2005 with an opportunistic view of the real estate landscape. Our focus was on value investing, which means identifying and acquiring assets that hold more value than the price we pay for them. Most often, that means creating or unlocking value through a combination of development, management, leasing and sales — while limiting our risk exposure." Read more

"Miami banks work to aid clients amid Coronavirus" is the title of a Miami Herald article on April 24, 2020 spotlighting the efforts of South Florida lenders during the pandemic. “There are a whole bunch of [projects] that continue to be [approved] because of the quality of sponsorship, the quality of the property and location,” said Ezra Katz, founder and CEO of Aztec Group, a Miami-based real estate investment and merchant banking firm. “That will continue to get the attention of investors and lenders.” Unlike the last downturn, the banks that are being asked to prevent everyone else from failing. Read more

Volunteer sewers in the Miami Mask Project are as young as 11 years old. Their mission: to make face masks to protect others during the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 1,500 masks have been sewn and donated. “Our army of around 20 volunteers has already donated through the course of these last six days over a thousand of our homemade masks to South Miami Hospital, South Miami and University of Miami Police Departments, Urgent Care Centers, Miami Dade Animal Services, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Jackson NICU, and several doctors and pediatrician offices,” says Mariel Wenger, who with her son, started the group of volunteers. Ethan, 17, son of Mariel & Andrew Wenger, is a junior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School and is in charge of coordinating supplies. He's pictured at right with a new sewing machine. Read more

Danielle Katz Squires, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician who practices at Kings Bay Pediatrics, authored an opinion piece in the Miami Herald — "Today, as in 1918, pandemics have physicians baffled" — published on April 20, 2020. Just as in 1918, when her great-grandfather was in his final year of medical school as the Spanish flu swept the world, Dr. Squires writes: "Again, we find ourselves overstretched with limited resources and healthcare workers falling ill beside the patients in their care." Read more

"He advised the world during four pandemics. Now he leads UM during coronavirus crisis," read the headline on April 18, 2020 in an article in the Miami Herald where University of Miami President Julio Frenk, M.D., Ph.D. discussed how — back in December 2019 when news first began to trickle out of Wuhan, China — convened a meeting of his emergency operations team at UM. "Coronavirus was coming," he said. "It was only a matter of when and how hard the invasion would hit." Dr. Frenk is one of the world’s foremost public health experts, and had been on the front lines during four previous pandemics, including the 2002 SARS scare, 2009's H1N1 swine flu and the 2014 Ebola outbreak. During his career, he has practiced medicine, served as his native country Mexico’s Secretary of Health and as an executive at the World Health Organization. Read article

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.

The Temple Beth Am Day School Annual Auction on March 12, 2020 — honoring retiring Day School Head of School Dr. Deborah Starr, 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 Sara Berkowitz and Natalie Firestone (left), and to the other amazing chairs who helped ensure that the auction was a magnificent celebration.

Temple Beth Am sent one of the largest temple delegations to the AIPAC Policy Conference March 1–3, 2020 in Washington, D.C., the largest gathering of America's pro-Israel community. Through demonstrations of groundbreaking Israeli innovations, keynote speeches by American and Israeli leaders, inspiring moments on stage and intimate educational sessions, Policy Conference delegates experienced the full scale of pro-Israel activism in three powerful days. Next year: March 7–9, 2021


Corporate and transactional attorney Andrew Cromer, a partner at AXS Law Group, has published "Partner code of conduct: How to keep those you do business with accountable," a Miami Herald Business Monday article on February 24, 2020. The Hospitality Advocate piece discusses a business' relationship with a restaurant or hotel's service providers and how their partners act outside of your business. He emphasizes: "...a simple moment 'gone viral' can cripple a business overnight, so it’s vital to have some control over the actions of your service providers." Read more

Martha Scheinberg Myers, late mother of Judy Gilbert Gould and grandmother of Bobby Gilbert and Mark Gilbert, was featured in a Miami Herald article entitled "The American women behind World War II were ‘the quiet heroes’" published on February 16, 2020. Martha was married in 1925 to her late husband, Stanley C. Myers, who founded the Greater Miami Jewish Federation after Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938. Martha volunteered extensively in the Miami community during World War II. “I remember vividly her dressed in her American Red Cross uniform with her hat [see photo at left] and Red Cross pin, going to Miami Beach to the USO centers to serve refreshments to soldiers and roll bandages for those who were hurt,” Judy recalled in the article. Martha remained involved in the National Council of Jewish Women, which became the official resettling organization after the war. Read full article

Michelle Appelrouth-Rader & Josh Rader have been named Co-Chairs of the annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation Super Sunday Phonathon and Good Deeds Day on Sunday, March 15, 2020 from 10:00 am–6:00 pm at Federation headquarters, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. The family-friendly event has something for everyone. Make calls, write letters and participate in a variety of hands-on volunteer projects organized by the Jewish Volunteer Center and Repair the World Miami. Click here for more information

Jessi Berrin served as a Co-Chair of "Women on the Move," February 24, 2020 at Five Sisters, Miami. Women on the Move, sponsored by Women's Philanthropy of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, is a program for women with varying schedules and demands for networking, professional and development. Jessi is Director of Development at Baptist Health South Florida.

The 23rd annual Donor Next Door Luncheon — which provides an opportunity for local nonprofits to celebrate an individual or organization that inspires philanthropy in Miami — was held on March 6, 2020 at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami. At this year's luncheon, presented in partnership with The Miami Foundation, The Foundation of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation honored Patty & Louis Gurkin as its "Donor Next Door" for 2020. Steadfast supporters of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation for more than 20 years, their involvement deepened when they participated in Federation's Mega Mission in 2012, and since then the Gurkins have made several trips to Israel, including 2018 with their daughters. Pictured with Patty & Louis are their daughters, Shari (left) and Brittany (right), who both attended Temple Beth Am Day School.

Yasher koach to Robert G. Berrin, who has been named Chair of the Baptist Health Foundation Board, serving a three-year term for the organization which raises funds for Baptist Health South Florida. President of Capital Realty Services, Inc., a commercial real estate firm based in Coral Gables, Bob is a lifelong member of Temple Beth Am, serving as President in 1991–1993. He has been an active supporter of numerous community and civic organizations, and was Chair of the Board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation from 2014–2016. Community service is central to the Berrin family's values, and his 96-year-old mother, Roslyn, a founding member of Beth Am, remains active in many community causes.

Congratulations to Stephanie Silver, who will be sworn in as a County Court Judge on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 12:15 pm at the Dade County Courthouse. Officiating at her investiture will be Temple Beth Am Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras. Stephanie also will be honored at the 17th annual Women’s History Reception of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), South Florida Chapter, on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 6:00 pm at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami. She is being recognized by ASPA for her 19 years as an Assistant State Attorney in the 11th Circuit State Attorney’s Office. She was appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the Miami-Dade County Court.

Congratulations to the Karsenti Family — (above, from left) Arnaud, Sarah, Ari, Gabriel and Rebecca — who were honored on February 9, 2020 with presentation of the Committee of 100’s 2020 “Family of the Year” Award, for their continued participation in our Temple community and ongoing commitment to congregational leadership. Read more

Four upper school students at Gulliver Preparatory School, including junior Jordan Schmidt, have won the 2019 Congressional App Challenge, a yearly competition that encourages middle and high school students to learn to code and pursue careers in computer science and STEM fields. Jordan, son of Dianne & Ed Schmidt, helped design the group’s winning app, AED Locator, which uses a person’s geolocation to find the nearest automated external defibrillator in more than 10,000 locations in Miami-Dade County. U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27) on January 15, 2020 announced the winners for her Congressional district. This marks the fifth official Challenge, as 304 members of Congress across 48 states hosted app challenges for their student constituents. A record 10,534 students participated, yielding 2,177 original student-created apps, nearly doubling last year’s totals.

FIU Professor Tudor Parfitt moderated a discussion on February 19, 2020 at the Jewish Museum of Florida with Shirley & Arthur Sotloff about the life and career of their son, Steven (pictured at right), and the issue of wartime journalism. The Sotloffs founded the 2LIVES Foundation soon after their 31-year-old son was brutally murdered on international TV after being held hostage for one year. Their mission is to provide scholarships to women and men of excellence seeking careers in journalism in a changed world. "In Conversation with Shirley & Arthur Sotloff" was held at 301 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida.

Books & Books debuted its Gallery Night featuring an exhibition by photographer Sharon Socol on February 7, 2020 and continuing through the end of February at its Coral Gables location at 265 Aragon Avenue. Sharon is constantly bombarded by her observations about life and through photography she makes them public. Her photographs reveal both autobiographical and social commentaries. They act as a port for conversations she has with herself as well as with those who view them. “When I take my camera along as I walk in cities or in the landscape I open all my senses," she notes. "I follow where they lead. Like a map they bring me to an instant I want to preserve. The results are like a fingerprint, unique to me. The images in this exhibition represent a small selection from many of those moments I have captured over the years.

Congratulations to Susan Malca, in whose honor the 2020–2021 Directory of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Kendall Section is dedicated. Susan has "dramatically improved and changed the face of our community through dedication, hard work, philanthropy and selflessness," reads an NCJW letter announcing the dedication. NCJW is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into actions. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families, and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

Jessica Medwin (right), daughter of Jennifer Warren Medwin and Steve Medwin, was featured in the February 2020 edition of The Florida Villager (Pinecrest/Palmetto edition) profiling her community service efforts on behalf of Children for Children, a nonprofit organization founded by Jessica and Kylie O'Day (left), both students at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami. The members work with Tikva, a Jewish orphanage in the Ukraine, and His House Children's Home, a foster care facility in Miami Gardens. Volunteers also donate their time and resources to help additional children in need throughout the community. Jessica is no stranger to community service. Alongside her mother, Jennifer, she has been organizing events to benefit those less fortunate since elementary school. "My mom always taught my brother and me that giving back and being a caring member of community is essential," she noted in the article.

On January 27, 2020, more than 1,000 people came together at the Hilton Hotel Downtown for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's The Main Event 2020, 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. Shelly & Steven Brodie (at left) served as Chairs of Federation's largest event, while Susan & Michael Meister were among those serving as Vice Chairs of The Main Event, which marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Professor Deborah Lipstadt was honored with presentation of the 2020 Friend of Israel Humanitarian Award.

Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras was a candidate on the Reform Slate for the World Zionist Congress elections, held from January 21 to March 11, 2020. A national board member of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, Rabbi Barras is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and descends from a long line of rabbis who have passed on the traditions of Jewish scholarship throughout the generations. The World Zionist Organization is a non-governmental entity that promotes Zionism, and the 38th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem is scheduled October 20–23, 2020.

On Christmas Day 2019, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation went to the Salvation Army Shelter on NW 38th Street in Miami to feed lunch and bring stockings to some of the area's homeless. Above, William Bailine is pictured on the front page of the Miami Herald as he was one of the volunteers helping to serve the Christmas meal. Will, son of Rachel & Ryan Bailine, is a third-grader at Temple Beth Am Day School.

“This is an opportunity to show our kids, you know, people are struggling. But here’s a way to make people feel great about themselves and feel wanted,” said Elisah Lewis, Chair of Federation's South Dade Gives Back program. “They’ve really had a chance to grow up volunteering and helping.” Read article

Above right, volunteer Alexis James helps serve meals on Christmas Day. Alex is a seventh-grader at Miami Palmetto Middle School and the daughter of Lisa & Jason James.

Some 5,000 delegates from across North America and around the world gathered December 11–15, 2019 at the URJ Biennial Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring speakers and the leaders of our Movement, reunite with old friends, create new connections, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement.

Among the Temple Beth Am delegation at the URJ Biennial Conference were: (seated, from left) Rabbi Jeremy Barras, Shari Debowsky, Stuart Ratzan, Edith Osman, Paul Pataky; (standing, L-R) Karen Kammer, Sheri Lieberman, Andrea LeVine, Cantor Rachelle Nelson, Aída Littauer, Scott Bernstein, David Young, Rabbi Rachel Greengrass, Brian Chartock, Carolina Gurland, Harvey Gurland, Jr., Jeffrey Agron and Josh Laurence.

The following congregants are among South Florida attorneys who have been recognized as "Lawyer of the Year" honorees by Best Lawyers, a peer review publication in the legal profession, in its 2020 South Florida edition released on December 12, 2019. From left are: Andrew S. Berman, Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez, P.A., Mergers & Acquisitions Litigation; Ronald L. Kammer, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Insurance Law; Charles R. Lipcon, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., Admiralty & Maritime Law; David Oscar Markus, Markus/Moss, Criminal Defense White-Collar; Stuart N. Ratzan, Ratzan Law Group, Product Liability Litigation; Jay B. Shapiro, Stearns Weaver Miller, Antitrust Litigation; and Robert A. Zinn, Duane Morris LLP, International Mergers & Acquisitions.

Recognition by Best Lawyers is based on peer review, with methodology designed to capture the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Schaul and her sister, Maggie Cordish, have co-authored a children's book which tackles sibling rivalries. Maggie May & Lizzie Loo is an illustrated rhyming picture book, their first effort, that explores the challenging feelings of sibling rivalry while capturing the irreplaceable bond between sisters. Maggie and Lizzie share a passion for early childhood education and based the story on their own sisterly dynamic growing up. Their book was launched at Books & Books Coral Gables where the sisters hosted a community carnival, sponsored by Power Plus Tutoring. Proceeds from book sales at the launch benefitted Kristi House, a Children’s Advocacy Center dedicated to eradicating child abuse and sex trafficking. Watch interview with Lizzie on NBC6

Tracey Spiegelman has been selected as Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, which serves as the public policy and advocacy arm of Federation and is the instrument through which the organized Jewish community can explore and develop policies on issues affecting the community. A Realtor with Shelton and Stewart Realtors, Tracey serves as Temple Beth Am's Executive Vice President and is a member of the board of the Hadassah Foundation. In 2013, she was honored as recipient of Federation's Stanley C. Myers President's Leadership Award.

Scott Weingarden, JD, CFP, CIMA, Vice President of the Starner Group of Raymond James, served as Moderator of The Foundation of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's South Dade Professional Advisors Council program on December 11, 2019 at The Collection in Coral Gables. The program was entitled "The Role and Responsibilities of a Trustee."

Arnaud Karsenti, Managing Principal of 13th Floor Investments, has been named to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable, where for the next six months local CEOs will share their views on the most important civic and economic issues of the day. The CEO Roundtable represents leaders from a variety of companies and nonprofits — both big and small — across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Since founding 13th Floor Investments, a real estate investment and development firm based in Miami, Arnaud has been involved in acquiring, developing and managing nearly $2.0 billion in real estate assets.

Yasher koach to Hon. David H. Young, a Circuit Court Judge in the Family Division, who was honored on November 16, 2019 by KidSide Miami with its Maxine Cohen Lando Award. KidSide is an organization which augments the capabilities of the system in assisting parents and children caught in the web of Family Court Services, a unit of the Miami-Dade County Eleventh Circuit Court. Proceeds from the annual fund-raiser — "Havana Nights Casino Royale" — are used to support the needs of children immersed in family court conflicts. The award is named in honor of the late Maxine Cohen Lando, who died in 2012 while serving as a Judge in the Family Division, 11th Judicial Circuit.

Congratulations to the Held family on their 3rd place finish in the 2019 edition of the Herald Hunt on November 3, 2019. Longtime contestants Shayna, Pamela & Gary Held (son Dave participated by phone from Pittsburgh) were among the thousands competing in the daylong puzzle hunt originally called the Tropic Hunt and whipped into life by columnist Dave Barry and former Tropic editor Tom Shroder. It has been held on and off from the 1980s and discontinued in 2012.

Rabbi Jaime Aklepi was a panelist on October 29, 2019 following a screening of the documentary film "Same God" at the Coral Gables Congregational Church. The award-winning documentary — directed by Linda Midgett — explores the December 2015 political rhetoric against Muslims following an incident at Wheaton College near Chicago. The panel was comprised of local community religious leaders from multiple faiths, and was sponsored by COSMOS, Jaffer Center at FIU, MCCJ and Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ.

Cantor Rachelle Nelson was inducted into the Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association's "Hall of Fame" at its 21st annual Induction Luncheon on November 15, 2019 at Temple Israel in Miami. Rachelle, a 1974 graduate of Beach High, has been selected in the Public/ Community Service category. In addition to promoting alumni activities, the MBSHAA annually awards scholarships to deserving students.

Stacey Deutsch Shoer, a 1989 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, received the "Alumni Award of Merit" on November 8, 2019 at the 85th annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala, sponsored by Penn Alumni at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. A celebration of Penn's most passionate and dedicated alumni volunteers, the gala is a chance to recognize alumni, among the 290,000 living Penn graduates.

Rita Swichkow, veteran Guardian Ad Litem for the past 38 years and a pioneer in child advocacy, was honored on October 25, 2019 by Voices For Children at its 25th annual "Be A Voice Luncheon" at Jungle Island Miami. Rita is being recognized for her many years selflessly serving vulnerable children in our community. Voices For Children is a leader among peer organizations concerned with the support and future success of abused, abandoned, or neglected children and youth.

Larry Spiegelman, M.D. chaired a Medical Mission to Israel October 28–November 3, 2019, sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. The trip offered Miami-area healthcare professionals a unique opportunity to see the Israeli medical and biotech sectors up close. Mission highlights included 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. has published its list — Influencers: The Top Names in Multifamily — and recognizes Matthew Rieger, president and CEO of Housing Trust Group, the largest affordable housing developer in Florida. As a third-generation Miamian and former corporate and real estate attorney, Matthew has been focused on expanding the company’s capacity to deliver more units. The Housing Trust Group is not only the largest affordable developer in Florida but also one of the largest affordable housing developers in the nation. is an online destination for commercial real estate content.

Anthony Askowitz, broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty, provided the "Broker's View" in the October 7, 2019 edition of the Miami Herald's Business Monday section. The article, "Miami real estate boosted by rates cuts," reviews recent FHA rules for condominiums owners, which affect create interest rates and expanded condo financing. Read article

Tracy Ellyn's art series, "Genesis," has been installed at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem in the Neurology/Epilepsy Department in memory of her son, Colby. The fragile pieces were hand-delivered by Dianne Gottlieb, a Temple Beth Am member who is a Hadassah national board member. Sisterhood of Temple of Beth Am generously sponsored some of the framing, which was done in Jerusalem. Tracy's fine art is often found in healing venues such as Sylvester Cancer Center, Lennar Medical Center and other places of healing where art can uplift body and soul. "Once I had my art in Jerusalem, my soul was complete," she said.

Juliana & Alex Krys served as Event Co-Chairs for the annual Diamond Ball — benefiting the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Foundation — October 19, 2019 at the JW Marriot Marquis Miami. The Diamond Ball is a gala celebration of the patients and families served by Nicklaus Children's Health System. Philanthropists from across South Florida and around the world gather for an evening to benefit and enhance the quality of life, programs and services that support the health and wellbeing of our children.

"The global climate strike is just the start. We need to keep speaking out for our planet," is the title of an Op-Ed article in a September 24, 2019 opinion piece in the Sun Sentinel written by Nicole Markus, a junior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest. Daughter of Mona & David Markus, Nicole writes: “If we do not continue to make our voices heard once the global climate strike is over, all of it will be for nothing. Every day, we need to talk about solutions, lobby the government, and change habits to reduce our collective carbon footprint.” Click here to read more

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

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