By COLlive reporter
Photos: Shmuel Amit/COLlive
Close to 600 guests gathered at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City Monday for a special evening honoring 10 individuals who are trailblazers in their careers as well as proud Orthodox Jews.
The 6th annual Jewish All Stars event hosted by Jew in the City was an inspiring evening of Jewish pride, highlighting 10 exceptional individuals in a variety of fields who are highly successful in their careers as well as role models in their communities.
Allison Josephs, founder of Jew in the City, an organization reshaping the way the world views Orthodox Jews and Judaism, welcomed the guests, and noted the connection between the honorees and the upcoming Jewish holiday of Chanukah.
“Like the flames we kindle on Chanukah, the light of the all-stars illuminates and inspires others around them without diminishing their flames,” Josephs said. “Being Jewish allows them to use their talents to better the world; their faith and observance give their success both meaning and grounding. Their conviction earns them the respect of their colleagues,” she said.
This year’s honorees included Joseph Essas, Chief Technology Officer of OpenTable; Karen Barrow, Senior Editor at the New York Times; AJ Edelman and Bat-el Gatterer, Olympians representing Israel; The Honorable David Friedman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel; Dov Kramer, Executive Producer at WFAN radio; Shulem Lemmer, the first Hasidic Jew to sign with a major record label; The Secretary of Transportation of Massachusetts, The Honorable Stephanie Pollack, Sam Rascoff, Former Director, NYPD Intelligence Analysis Unit; and Jerry Wittenstein, NASA scientist who developed 3 out of the 6 trajectories for Apollo 11.
Actress Mayim Bialik was also recognized for her historic commitment to Jewish observance in the midst of secular Hollywood. While Bialik couldn’t attend the event in person, she received her award via Skype and addressed the audience in a speech on screen.
Bialik thanked Josephs for teaching her so much about Judaism during their years-long friendship. “You transformed my life,” Bialik said, noting that Josephs had seen her through pursuing her doctorate, returning to acting, and through her divorce.
“You have been so patient with me, in answering all of my questions over and over,” she said. “I think that when I met you I had three sets of dishes – Milchig, Fleishig, and Pareve, because I didn’t know you don’t need to have a whole set for Pareve,” Bialik said to laughter from the crowd.
World-renowned Universal Records artist Shulem Lemmer, who has performed around the world including at Jewish and non-Jewish events such as the National Anthem at major league sports events, remarked that one of his goals is to “encourage sticking to your values, staying true to who you are, wherever you are or whatever you do.”
“It’s an honor to share that responsibility and set an example,” he said.
Members of previous All-Star classes were also in attendance including the Honorable Ruchie Freier, the first Hasidic Female judge; Lawrence Burian, general counsel, secretary and executive vice president for The Madison Square Garden Company; and Saul Blinkoff, Disney animator and director.
Shulem Lemmer performed a song live with a capella group, The Maccabeats, who were also honored at the same event in the past.
The goal of the event was to inspire as well as raise money for another division of Jew in the City, Project Makom.
Project Makom helps Jews raised with negative experiences in the Haredi world find a positive to belong place within the Jewish community. Following the event, one member who previously hated being Jewish expressed, “I have no words! Amazing event! I love being Jewish and I want to scream it to the world!”
Jew in the City, a non-profit founded in 2007 by Allison Josephs, reverses negative associations about religious Jews by highlighting the kindness, tolerance, sincerity, and critical thinking coming from the community. A new branch of the organization, Project Makom, helps Jews raised with negative experiences in the Haredi world find a positive to belong place within the Jewish community.
Jew in the City is reshaping the way the world views Orthodox Jews and Judaism. It publicizes the message that Orthodox Jews can be funny and approachable, and further—educated, pro-women and open-minded. Orthodox Judaism links the Jewish people to a deep and beautiful heritage that is just as relevant today as it ever was. With a mix of light humor and rich content, Jew in the City explores controversial topics in a pleasant and easy-to-understand fashion, appealing to anyone who is curious to learn more about Orthodox Jews and observant Judaism, whether they are Jewish or not.