Several hundred people gathered at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly — some getting into the spirit by wearing their favorite sports jerseys — to celebrate the launch of the New Jersey Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The JCC established the half of fame to honor Jews who distinguished themselves as New Jersey athletic leaders and fostered their Jewish identity through sports. The March 5 evening was part of the JCC’s third annual Sports Night of Champions, which raises funds for JCC scholarships.
The inaugural inductees, nominated and chosen for their excellence in leadership, sportsmanship, and character, were Jeff Kurtz, who was a member of University of Miami’s national championship football teams and now coaches young quarterbacks; Leonard Rubin (z”l), a JCC founding member and one of its first presidents, who was a force behind many JCC programs and established the annual JCC Rubin Run as a community-wide athletic event to encourage and promote healthy living; and Joseph Taub (z”l), a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets, who promoted Jewish scholarship and provided ongoing assistance to at-risk young people working to achieve athletic goals.
The evening included a strolling dinner; a live auction; a ceremony honoring inductees introduced by JCC vice president and sports board co-chair Jeff Levitt; scholarship stories by presented by Tracy Wolfson, a lead sportscaster for CBS sports who also is on the JCC sports board, and by JCC board member Robin Miller; and the presentation of the Joseph Taub Scholar Athlete awards to high school senior athletes by JCC board chair Jodi Scherl. This year’s recipients were Casey Lam of Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest and Walter Chang of Bergen County Technical High School-Teterboro. Both received a $3,600 college scholarship. Emma McKeon and Raehash Viral Shah were runners up, and Kelsey Koehler and Alexander Vardy received honorable mentions, which also included scholarships.
“The night was exciting and successful in many significant ways,” the JCC’s CEO, Jordan Shenker, said. “It was meaningful to honor our first class of inductees into the New Jersey Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, three pillars in the community who have done so much for the local community and for our JCC. I’m also proud to share that the event raised significant funds for JCC scholarship assistance that will allow us to help children, families, and seniors in need to benefit from the programs and services we offer. And lastly, I am delighted that this special evening provided more than $10,000 in college scholarship support to student-athletes in our community. One of our JCC missions is to invest in helping young people achieve their dreams and this exciting annual event helps make this possible.”
The evening’s presenting sponsors included the Kurtz and Taub families, Michelle and Scott Tesser and family, and the Uehling and Zoellner families. MVP sponsors included Englewood Health, the Kaplen Foundation, and the Rubach family. The All Star sponsor was Liberman Networks and Brach|Eichler, LLC, was the Grand Slam sponsor. The co-chairs were JoJo Rubach and Jeff Levitt, and the scholarship awards were made possible by the Joseph and Arlene Taub Foundation in memory of Joseph Taub.