On Wednesday evening, June 10th, Chabad of the Conejo marked its 30th anniversary with a gala banquet at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel – a celebration described by many participants as one of the most moving, entertaining and inspirational they’d ever attended.
Entitled “Celebration 30: Gateway to the Future”, the evening was highlighted by poignant tributes, side-splitting comedy, stirring music, an historic dedication and a momentous announcement.
The Keser Shem Tov (“Crown of a Good Name”) Award was presented to Mark and Renee Horwitz and the Chesed Award to Hal and Judy Standel – each for the unique inspiration they bring to the community through their distinctive character and commitment.
An uproarious routine by comedian Mark Schiff proved once and for all that comedy need not be risqué to be hilarious. The stage was also graced by the powerful and elegant voice of Jordan Bennett, who showed a range of talent that led from cantorial renditions of Avinu Malkeinu to a masterful take on “Bring Him Home.”
Some of the evening’s most emotionally uplifting moments came as Ms. Renee Overton was introduced to dedicate Chabad of the Conejo’s new senior outreach program to the memory of her late mother, Evelyn, who had always displayed deep concern and passion about the plight of the elderly. In accepting her award and the memorial tribute on her mother’s behalf, Renee Overton made an impassioned plea for everyone to get involved in whatever way possible to help make life better and brighter for seniors by seeing to it they receive the love, patience, dignity and respect they deserve.
The lights then came down for a video presentation honoring the memory of the late Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, of blessed memory – Chabad representatives to Mumbai who were murdered in the terrorist attacks of November 2008 – and telling the story of Chabad of the Conejo’s 30 year milestone.
The piece climaxed with footage of developer Martin Teitelbaum and the rabbis of Chabad reviewing plans and walking the site of the soon-to-be-built Chabad of the Conejo Community Campus. A colorful rendering of the proposed two-building project then dramatically unfolded on screen.
As the lights came back up, Rabbi Moshe Bryski was at the podium with the key announcement of the evening: “The building permit is in our hands. It’s all systems go!… In the coming weeks, G-d willing, there will be activity taking place at that construction site!”
Rabbi Bryski then went on to call upon all those who haven’t as yet come on board with their support to sign on and become part of history in the making: “This is not just about the excitement of the coming months; it’s about the legacy we’re going to leave for our children and grandchildren – for generations to come. We must join together, make the necessary sacrifices and seize this moment to enter this momentous and opportune Gateway to the Future… If not us, who? If not now, when?”