The attendance of more than 1,200 guests and high-ranking elected officials stood as bold testimony to community-wide support for Ohel as a preeminent provider of critical social services that meet the ever-increasing needs of individuals and families.
Moishe Hellman and Mel Zachter, co-presidents of Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, warmly welcomed guests to Ohel’s 44th Annual Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on Sunday, November 24. The guests included honorees, prominent members of the business community, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, and other elected officials, as well as Ohel board members, friends, clients, families, and volunteers.
The enthusiastic crowd, moving speeches, and video presentations demonstrated tremendous commitment to the gala’s theme: “Ohel Sees the Star in Everyone.” For more than 44 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’s foster care program, domestic abuse shelters, residential facilities, Camp Kaylie, programs for the siblings of children with developmental disabilities, and employment services are just a few of the ways in which Ohel has ensured that individuals of all abilities count and have the opportunity to shine like stars.
Throughout the evening, inspiring videos showcased Ohel as well as the evening’s honorees. “Siblings: Unspoken Challenges, Unrelenting Love” is a groundbreaking video in which typical individuals with atypical siblings candidly share their trials and triumphs in complex sibling relationships and illustrate the bond that Ohel works to create in its SibShops siblings program.
NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced Governor Cuomo. In his keynote address, Governor Cuomo spoke of New York State’s commitment to people with disabilities, and of the important role of the new Justice Center. Messages of support of Ohel’s work were also conveyed by New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Senator Charles Schumer.
The guests of honor, Chani and Jay Kestenbaum, have provided unrelenting support for more than 20 years, which has enabled Ohel to help countless individuals shine. Their latest contribution to Ohel will help continue to enable seven men with disabilities to live happy, successful lives in the newly named Kestenbaum Family Residence on Cumberland Road in Lawrence. Last year’s gala honoree, Hinda Mizrahi, gave a moving address regarding her three brothers who live in this home.
The corporate honoree, Domenick A. Cama, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of Investors Bank, spoke about how inspired he had been after visiting Ohel residences, and how the principal pillars of the bank—character, commitment, community, and cooperation—are values mutually embraced by Ohel.
Also honored at the gala were the Ohel golf committee chairs, for ten outstanding years of hard work and sold-out golf events. The golf committee chairs are Ben Englander, Izzy Kaufman, Michelle Sulzberger, Jonathan Marks, and Jeffrey Schwartz, all from the Five Towns.
Also celebrated at this year’s gala were two All Stars of Camp Kaylie, Ohel’s premiere summer camp: Nina Bernheim, daughter of Malkie and Josh Bernheim of Bergenfield, and Malkie Rubin, daughter of Tzivia and Yossie Rubin of Teaneck. Malkie Bernheim thanked Ohel for the amazing efforts they have put into Camp Kaylie, which has given her daughter a place to call home for the summer.
Individual by individual, the numbers truly add up for Ohel. Ohel has placed 2,500 children whose parents could not care for them into loving foster homes; provided services to 1,150 Holocaust survivors to enable them to age safely with dignity, comfort, and support; counseled 1,000 children, teens, and adults every month to help them manage life’s challenges; provided expert care 24/7 to 450 individuals with developmental and psychiatric disabilities in Ohel Bais Ezra residences; and provided programs, services, and resources to countless individuals and families to help them succeed.
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. The gala took place on one of the chilliest November days on record, but the evening could not have been warmer for the stars—every person in the room—or more luminous.
To view video presentations shown at the Gala, as well as videos of the event, or 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