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

Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras has been elected for a two-year term to the 2021–2023 of the Board of Trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the 2,100-member international body of Reform Rabbis. The CCAR’s rabbinic voice guides the Jewish community on important spiritual, social, cultural, and human rights issues. Read more

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 2021 South Florida edition released on November 20, 2020.

From left are: Kevin M. Levy, GrayRobinson, P.A., Technology Law; Gary A. Saul, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Real Estate Law; Scott J. Silverman, retired Judge-11th Judicial Circuit, Mediation; and Harley S. Tropin, Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, Litigation-Securities.

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. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to be included on their lists.

Yasher koach to Jordan Schmidt, who has won the third Jewish Star North American Talent Search in the songwriting and performance category for his interpretation of Mah Gadlu. A senior at Gulliver Preparatory Academy and son of Dianne & Ed Schmidt, Jordan was recognized in the 18-and-under category. Since 2018, the Jewish Star North American Talent Search has been identifying emerging talent in the Jewish community with a passion and desire to impact the Jewish world. A group of nationally renowned Jewish music artists and educators reviewed the entries and selected 18 individuals to receive exclusive opportunities to expand their skills so they can make an even greater impact on their communities and Jewish world.

Eyecare Business magazine has presented its 3rd annual Game Changer Awards to 11 optometrists, opticians and optical retailers who helped beat back the pandemic’s effects with critical support plus tools for peers and staff, as well as those who broke down barriers for the industry, ushering in positive change. Among those who were recognized is Ed Beiner, President of US Operations for Edward Beiner, a leading Miami-based eyewear designer and retailer. "My 2020 business strategy was a bottle of Glenlivet 21," says Ed. "We had weekly meetings with our staff when the shops were closed, discussing fears, solutions and what we would do differently when doors reopened. These sessions helped create a sense of community and enhanced corporate culture. Behind the scenes, we reinforced our relationship with our vendors. Positive energy and prayers also helped, along with the Glenlivet.” In 2019, Ed's wife, Daniela Zanzuri, was named a 2019 GameChanger. Read more

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Miami and Broward presented its 2020 Judge Learned Hand Award to Steven J. Brodie on November 10, 2020. Steve is Co-Managing Shareholder of Carlton Fields' Miami office. Event Co-Chairs were Robert G. Berrin, Isaac (Ike) Fisher 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.

Mazel tov to Neil Littauer, who has been named "Man of the Year" by Brotherhood of Temple Beth Am. The award was presented on October 29, 2020 at Brotherhood's opening event, featuring guest speaker David Lawrence, Jr. Neil is a charter member of Brotherhood's Board of Directors, serving as Communications Chair since its inception in 2015. He assumed the additional role of Treasurer last year. He also was recognized for his role in spearheading Temple Beth Am's efforts to convert to a virtual online synagogue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The October 29, 2020 edition of the Miami Herald's Op-Ed pages featured an article written about civility in our current political environment — "Amid uncertainty as ballots are counted, we have a duty to be civil to each other." 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 and Kendall, The Children’s Trust and United Way of Miami-Dade. Author of the Op-Ed was Tracey Spiegelman, Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. A Realtor with Shelton and Stewart Realtors, Tracey serves as Temple Beth Am's Executive Vice President. Read more

Laura Koffsky was one of four honorees who were recognized at the CAJE “Comedy for a Cause” Community-Wide Celebration, a virtual event on October 29, 2020. Among the Event Co-Chairs were Nadine & Sidney Pertnoy. Proceeds went 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.

The Moving Traditions Kol Koleinu Feminist Teen Fellowship — offered in collaboration with the Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue Youth — continues to grow and will consist of 50 talented Jewish girl-identified teens in three regional cohorts (East Coast, Midwest and West Coast). Temple Beth Am is so proud to announce that Paulina Tein has been selected for the 2020–2021 Fellowship, now in its third year. A senior at Ransom Everglades school, Paulina is the daughter of Laurie Stein & Michael Tein. Open to Jewish 10th-12th graders nationally, this year-long fellowship brings teens together online and in person, when possible, to learn about gender analysis, feminism and social change, to use their expertise to teach their peers, and to complete projects that advance social change in their communities.

"Healing ‘scars of centuries’: Tackling the dual ills of housing inequality, racism" is the title of a Miami Herald/Business Monday article on October 16, 2020 spotlighting the gap between rich and poor. "Forty-five years and one global pandemic later, our nation’s unhealed scars have resurfaced, inflamed by a virus that has disproportionately inflicted pain and economic hardship on Blacks and Latinos, and exacerbated by a problem that was looming for decades: the affordable housing crisis," wrote Matthew A. Rieger, President and CEO of Housing Trust Group, a national developer of affordable housing. He is also a member of the Housing Advisory Group in Washington, D.C., and is on the board for the University of Miami Master of Real Estate Development + Urbanism Program. Read more

Brian Y. Goldmeier has been selected as a Co-Chair of the United Way Tocqueville Society, a group of more than 800 business and community leaders who contribute at the highest levels and engage in philanthropy and volunteerism year-round. Tocqueville Society members contribute nearly $16 million to benefit more than 100 programs across 60 local agencies focused on education, financial stability and health. Brian is founder and president of BYG Strategies, Inc., recognized as one of Florida’s most prominent and successful government advisory, campaign and issue fundraising, and business consulting firms.

Congratulations to Jenna Citron Pinchuk, who has been named "Rookie of the Year" by Miami Agent magazine. A real estate advisor with Compass Realty Group, Jenna was recognized in its September 21, 2020 edition for bringing a fresh perspective to the real estate business and working tirelessly to position homes in the best possible light, and drawing on her more than 10 years as a top PR and communications professional. A Temple Beth Am Day School alumna and parent, Jenna is Treasurer of PATIO, our school's Parent and Teacher Involvement Organization.

"New unexpected Census deadlines guarantee Florida will lose critical funding" is the title of an Op-Ed article published in the Miami Herald on August 12, 2020 by Susan Racher, who writes: "This 2020 Census has made history — in several alarming ways. It is being conducted during a pandemic that has sickened more than 500,000 people in Florida. As a result of the pandemic, the Census Bureau had to delay opening its offices; delay staff recruitment and training; delay the start of Census takers’ Non-Response Follow-Up; face a staff shortage; and scrap its community-based Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program." Susan is a Vice President and CFO at the Wallace Coulter Foundation and is President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Miami Dade County. Read more

Gary A. Saul has been appointed as a Co-Chair of the University of Miami School of Law's Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig LL.M. in Real Property Development program for the 2020–21 academic year. The Real Property Development LL.M. is designed for the law graduate or attorney who wants to acquire or expand expertise in planning, structuring and financing real estate projects. Co-Chair of the Miami Real Estate Practice at Greenberg Traurig, Gary is a nationally recognized attorney who represents clients with the structuring, development, ownership and financing of real estate projects.

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."

Congratulations to the following attorneys, who were listed in the Top 100 Miami Area Lawyers and ranked in the 2020 edition of Florida Super Lawyers, as published in June 2020: Brett M. Amron, Bast Amron; 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-grade of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Super Lawyer magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys.

The Miami Herald/Business Monday Real Estate/Broker's View invited master broker Hazel Goldman on June 22, 2020 to share her thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on real estate. In "Lockdowns spark ‘paradigm shift’ to close-to-home offices," she asks, "Will short-term trends be 'corrected' once a vaccine is developed and distributed, and things return to normal?" Hazel is a principal of Goldman Residential Group with RE/MAX Advanced Realty. Read more

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.

Isaac “Ike” K. Fisher was installed as Chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation on May 26, 2020. A principal of Capital Realty Services, Inc., Ike most recently served as Federation’s General Campaign Chair, and he serves on the national board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation was born in 1938, in response to Kristallnacht, that fateful night when Jews in Germany saw their businesses smashed and shattered and their temples desecrated under the regime of Adolph Hitler. Locally, the newly organized Federation invested in programs that built “Jewish knowledge, identity and peoplehood, thereby ensuring the next generation of Jews.” The arms of the Federation’s philanthropy have stretched to Israel, where the organization helps settle immigrants and assists during crises. In addition, Federation also supports programs in over 70 other countries, combating anti-Semitism.

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.

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 served as Co-Chairs of the annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation Super Sunday Phonathon and Good Deeds Day on March 15, 2020 at Federation headquarters in Miami. The family-friendly event had 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 was sworn in as a County Court Judge on February 20, 2020. Officiating at her investiture was Temple Beth Am Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras. Stephanie also was honored at the 17th annual Women’s History Reception of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), South Florida Chapter, on March 19, 2020, at Jungle Island. She was 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.

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

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."

REMEMBER TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP!  •  If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020–21, please do so at your earliest convenience. Click here for Online Membership Renewal