Debbie and Howard Jonas.
Gotham Party People Help
The Disabled of Jerusalem
Story and Photos by Tim Boxer
VERYONE, it seemed, had reason to be proud at the annual dinner for Shalva, a home for children with disabilities in Jerusalem and its satellite facility in Gush Etzion. Founding/director Kalman Samuels, elated at the record attendance of 450 supporters at New York’s Pierre Hotel, honored Debbie and Howard Jonas of Riverdale, NY.
Jonas is the founder and chairman of IDT, a pioneering provider of low-cost long distance service.
In addition there was Sharon Koppel representing the New York Police Department for a special tribute.
Stephen Hammerman and Police
Officer Sharon Koppel.
She’s been a cop for 11 years, following in her dad’s footsteps, the late Capt. Stanley Stone. Her husband Michael is an Emergency Medical Service supervisor at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Koppel is raising her seven-year-old niece, Amber Stone, who is developmentally challenged. The child’s parents are both deceased.
Stephen Hammerman was proud to make the presentation to Koppel on behalf of Shalva. He is the newly appointed Deputy Police Commissioner for legal affairs. His son-in-law is a police lieutenant.
“To be a police officer in New York,” Hammerman told me, “takes unusual courage. Since 9/11, the police have an added responsibility of anti-terrorism.”
To take on his new post, Hammerman retired as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch after 35 years. “They’re still making retirement parties for me,” he chuckled.
Then there’s Esther Wachsman. Shalva’s Jerusalem center is named Beit Nachshon, in memory of her son. The world will never forget what happened to him.
Rabbi Haskell Lookstein and
Nachshon was a 19-year-old member of the elite Golani Brigade when Hamas terrorists took him hostage and murdered him in cold blood.
His brother Raphael has Down’s syndrome, and Nachshon spent endless hours shepherding him to Shalva for therapy and recreation.
Event coordinator Renee Erreich proudly produced a patriotic party pattern. The kosher food stations represented various culinary parts of the country: Tex Mex, Louisiana Cajun, Chicago meat market (deli) and New England seafood (Boston scrod, poached salmon).
The center pieces reflected the flags and products of the various states: New York grapes, Montana log wagon, Pennsylvania Hershey bars, Vermont maple syrup, Indiana model racing cars, and the like. The kids took them home.
Statue of Liberty – live!
Uncle Sam on stilts and a live Statue of Liberty also delighted the younger set.
This being Shalva’s 12th anniversary, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, last year’s honoree, recognized three bat mitzvah girls for community service: Pasha Gol, Rebecca Krevat and Sheva Odzer.
Grandma Frieda Odzer beamed with pride. “Grandchildren is my reward for not killing my children when they deserved it.”