Covid-19 brought about a lot of change. Most of it has been scary, unprecedented, and undesired. Emunah of America is shining a light on the positive changes that also happened. Within the Bergen County community, Emunah is honoring 11 local changemakers — ordinary people doing extraordinary things — at its annual dinner — virtual this year — on Sunday, September 13, beginning at 6 p.m. This is the first year Emunah has added the category of changemakers, although it has a legacy of changemakers in each generation who have made a significant impact in the lives of Jewish children and families in its residential children homes and centers in Israel. Those people are examples of leadership.
All funds raised will provide therapeutic services for children living in Emunah’s homes, as well as people who benefit from its daycare and crisis centers and senior programs.
Among the changemakers are Dr. Sel Levine of Teaneck, one of Bergen County’s frontline medical workers. “I had to quickly overcome the trepidation of directly caring for hundreds of covid patients…and thankfully, I experienced many lives being saved,” he said. “Doctors, nurses, orderlies, it was all hands-on deck.”
According to Debbie Ross of Teaneck, a clinical software analyst who also does community outreach at Holy Name Medical Center, “It is personally energizing to involve myself in initiating and supporting change in my community.” Hannah Schwalbe and Darbie Sokolow, both just 20 years old, and of Englewood, coordinated and delivered meals to frontline workers in hospitals during the height of the pandemic. “We felt a sense of duty to make our healthcare heroes’ lives easier by bringing meals to their workplaces,” they said.
Changemaker Dr. Nancy Block of Teaneck, psychologist and dean of the Ramaz School, said, “The hope for a better tomorrow lies with the younger generation. As a parent, as a community member and in my professional career, I viewed community service involvement as a vehicle to develop a sense of purpose and meaning. It is the appreciation that what we do matters, and that every act of kindness inspires others and creates a chain reaction that can change the world.” Miriam Blackstein LaTova of Maryland, formerly of Teaneck, has made a difference in the world of Jewish education by learning one-on-one with students all over America to ensure continued learning. Nikki Fuchs Sausen of New Milford and Paint with Me, was able to take her business and passion and give people the opportunity to express their creativity virtually with online painting events. Morgan Lazarus of Englewood and Noah Shultz of Fair Lawn, both of the Frisch School, founded the digitized platform Card UP, which non-profits can use for their donors to customize and purchase online greeting cards. Sarah Schechter of Englewood, a volunteer extraordinaire, has spent three summers as a counselor with Kol Hanearim and was placed in two of Emunah homes, Afula and Achuzat Sarah, for children at-risk. Changemaker Jamie Weiss of New Milford looked for a way to recognize sanitation workers and delivery service employees. She made and sold lawn signs with proceeds made going to the local hospital coronavirus fundraiser; she sold and delivered more than 500 signs. Community activist and leader Jonny Bendavid of Teaneck said, “In order to be a successful community member you must care deeply about others, the betterment of their lives, and have the strength of your convictions.” Holocaust survivor Meyer Zinn of New York City, a successful businessman, has chosen to dedicate his life to giving back to the community supporting charitable causes to help make a difference and make a positive impact.
Donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized by inscribing the donor’s name on a plaque on the wall of Emunah’s Sderot Crisis Center. This also includes a $100 discount code from participating restaurants and a premier bottle of kosher wine. For other gift opportunities, go to emunahdinner.org.