The Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies has moved its major fundraising drive online and will publish a green ad journal as planned. BCHSJS, Bergen County’s only weekly Hebrew high school, depends on funds it raises at its annual gala dinner and journal to help sustain the school and Jewish continuity.
The 2020 honorees are Sy Blechman of Edgewater, the school’s two-term president; its principal, Fred Nagler of Teaneck; educator Bruce Prince of Teaneck; and guidance counselor Chanan Strassman of Fair Lawn. Jill Strassberg of Woodcliff Lake is the parent honoree.
Sy Blechman will receive the L’Dor V’Dor award, which recognizes people who further Jewish continuity by supporting programs for Jewish teens. He established the gala dinner as the school’s largest community fundraiser. Besides BCHSJS, he supports the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish National Fund, and chaired the New York UJA Dress Division, one of UJA’s largest contributing groups. His clothing company, Perceptions, regularly donates to Yad Leah’s clothing drive for Israel. His connections to the country are longstanding. In 1927, his uncle made aliyah and built the first shul on any kibbutz or moshav in Israel. In 2010, after it had fallen into disrepair, Mr. Blechman rebuilt and refurbished the national landmark to return it to vibrancy.
Fred Nagler will receive the Walter Ramsfelder Service to the School award. He was its principal from 1982 to 2010 and initiated many innovative programs there, including Shabbatonim, an Israel trip, and community service projects. He participated personally in all of those programs. He also applied for and received a grant; as a result of that grant, for the last 20 years, BCHSJS has been the only Hebrew high school in the country with a guidance counselor on staff. Mr. Nagler returned to lead BCHSJS in 2016 to inspire a new generation of Jewish teens, and he has announced his retirement at the end of this school year. The BCHSJS board will honor him as its first principal emeritus.
Bruce Prince and Chanan Strassman are the school’s Educators of the Year. Mr. Prince has been teaching at BCHSJS for two years; he’s also taught at area congregational schools. He served his own Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck as president and chair of adult education and youth education programs. He is co-president of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Teaneck and is the co-chair for the Holocaust Memorial and Education Center.
Chanan Strassman joined BCHSJS in 2015 as the school counselor, offering support to students in meeting their academic, social, emotional, career, and religious goals. Mr. Strassman also is a resource for BCHSJS teachers in fostering a warm school climate, engaging students with diverse learning profiles, and communicating with parents. He also works as a member of the guidance department at the Torah Academy of Bergen County.
Jill Strassberg, the BCHSJS parent honoree, is active at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley as sisterhood treasurer and a former board member, and she co-chairs the Torah Fund campaign for JTS. Ms. Strassberg has been volunteering at BCHSJS weekly since 2016.
Mr. Nagler’s wife, Dr. Deborah Nagler, recently died after a valiant battle with the covid-19 virus. In addition to tribute ads and donations for the 2020 honorees, the Nagler family has asked for memorial donations for Deborah be made to BCHSJS.
For more information, call (201) 488-0834 or go to bchsjsdinner.org.