Co-Presidents of Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Moishe Hellman and Mel Zachter, warmly welcomed more than 1,000 guests to Ohel’s 43rd annual gala at the New York Hilton on Sunday, February 10. Guests included the gala honorees, prominent members of the business community, NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, NYS Assemblyman David Weprin, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, NYC Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, State Senator Simcha Felder, and NYC Councilman David Greenfield, as well as Ohel board members, friends, supporters, vendors, staff, and volunteers.
The large and enthusiastic turnout, moving speeches, and video presentations demonstrated tremendous commitment to the gala’s theme: Everyone Counts at Ohel. For more than 43 years, Ohel has provided critical programs and services inspired by the principle that every individual counts and deserves to be a cherished member of the community.
Ohel is grateful to annual gala sponsor Americare and the company’s president and CEO, Elly Kleinman. chair of Camp Kaylie at Ohel, Mr. Kleinman is one of Ohel’s most fervent supporters and loyal friends.
“Ohel looks at every person and sees a soul,” said Hinda Mizrahi, who with her husband, Robert Mizrahi, was honored with Ohel’s children’s advocacy award. Ms. Mizrahi—four of whose brothers have lived in an Ohel residence for adults with developmental disabilities—moved the crowd to tears with a beautifully composed, heartfelt speech about her “special brothers,” the value of every individual’s unique story, and the “important chapter” Ohel has contributed to her brothers’ story. “Ohel provides care and comfort and offers us great peace of mind,” she said.
Corporate guest of honor Saul N. Friedman of Friedman & Associates, an Ohel board member and vice president for more than 21 years, shared his passion for Ohel’s work in a video presentation honoring his commitment to Ohel’s children and families. This year represents a significant milestone for Friedman & Associates, the 40th anniversary of the founding of the business, and hundreds of Mr. Friedman’s business associates and clients came out to celebrate with him at the gala. “Every second word Saul says is Ohel,” said one longtime client in the video, a testament to Mr. Friedman’s deep engagement with Ohel’s children and families.
The evening’s guest of honor, David Brecher, president of First Meridian Mortgage, was joined at the podium by his 16-year-old daughter, Daniella, who spoke with maturity beyond her years about the ways in which Ohel has inspired her interest in helping to care for children with disabilities. The community award was presented to Jason Cury and Joel Beritz of The Gruss Life Monument Funds, which has generously contributed computer systems to Ohel residences and day habilitation centers and supported creation of the outdoor recreation center at the Arlington Residence for adolescents with disabilities in Cedarhurst. Mr. Cury and Mr. Beritz said they were proud to partner with Ohel in order to provide first-rate educational and recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.
The gala also paid tribute to the memory of Chaim Kaminetsky, Ohel’s beloved board member and vice president for more than 30 years, who is missed. His love for Ohel’s children was immeasurable and his dedication to chesed legendary. Ohel is proud to honor his memory by dedicating the Bais Chaim Kaminetsky Women’s Residence in Hillcrest.
Ohel extends profound thanks to everyone who attended the gala, made a gift in support of Ohel’s important work, and contributed to the evening’s success. Many Ohel vendors were especially generous, including Pomegranate, which provided essential support for the event. Ohel’s children and families know they can count on our community.
Video presentations shown at the gala, as well as videos of the event can be viewed at www.ohelfamily.org/galavideos. To support Ohel’s important work transforming the lives of children and families, please visit www.ohelfamily.org or call 718-972 9338. Every gift—of any size—counts and makes a difference. v