Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is launching at Kaplen JCC
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Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is launching at Kaplen JCC

The Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly recently founded the New Jersey Jewish Sports Hall of Fame to honor Jews who have distinguished themselves as leaders in athletics in New Jersey and who have fostered their Jewish identity successfully through sports. The inaugural inductees, who will be honored at the JCC’s third annual Sports Night of Champions on Thursday, March 5, include Jeff Kurtz, Leonard Rubin z”l, and Joseph Taub z”l. These community leaders were nominated and chosen based on the following criteria: they identified themselves publicly as Jewish; they demonstrated outstanding accomplishments as athletes, coaches, sports media, sports administrators, or sports figures who made a significant, positive impact on our community; they displayed excellence in leadership, sportsmanship and character; and they either were born in New Jersey, lived in New Jersey for at least four years, or played professionally for a New Jersey or tri-state area sports team.

The evening will include an elegant strolling dinner, a celebratory program with award presentations, a live auction, and the presentation of the Joseph Taub Scholar Athlete awards to one female and one male high school senior from Bergen County. Both scholars will be presented with a $3,600 college scholarship in recognition of their excellence in sports, academics, and in their communities. Runner up and honorable mention awards also will be distributed. Since the establishment of this community-wide event two years ago, the JCC has raised more than $400,000 in support of scholarships at the JCC.

“Every year, our Sports Night exceeds our expectations as a high-energy fundraiser that fills us with pride, knowing we can help countless children, families and seniors in need in our community,” the JCC’s CEO, Jordan Shenker, said. “Launching our New Jersey Jewish Sports Hall of Fame substantially adds to our pride, as it allows us to honor both living and deceased leaders in our community who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to sports, their Jewish identity, and the desire to inspire the next generation when it comes to both sports and sportsmanship.”

Joseph Taub z”l, the former co-owner of the New Jersey Nets, was a founder of Automatic Data Processing. A longtime member of the JCC family, Taub was dedicated to Jewish life and the Jewish community. He was an avid philanthropist who promoted Jewish scholarship. He was well known for his kindness and generosity, as well as for his lifelong dedication to providing assistance to at-risk teens, and for inspiring young athletes to realize their goals.

Leonard Rubin z”l, a JCC founding member and president, was a driving force behind many JCC programs. Because he believed that Jewish education was the key to Jewish continuity, at the JCC, he established the first Judaic-scholar-in-residence program and a teen scholarship to Israel program. He and his wife, Syril z”l, established the JCC flagship nursery school, which bears their name. He also played a pivotal role in creating the JCC’s Adult Reach Center for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia and established the JCC annual Rubin Run as a community-wide athletic event to encourage and promote healthy living.

Jeff Kurtz, the president of the Kamson Corporation, serves on the board of the Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund and other charities. A graduate of the University of Miami, he played on the Miami tennis team, went on to play football, and was a member of the 1987, 1989, and 1991 National Championship Football Teams for the University of Miami. An avid golfer and tennis player, he coaches and runs the Tenafly Youth Football program for third through eighth graders, and also is an assistant basketball and lacrosse coach for his children. Kurtz also prides himself on coaching young quarterbacks to boost their skill sets, watching them grow into exceptional high school athletes.

JoJo Rubach and Jeff Levitt are the evening’s co-chairs; the committee includes Kenny Albert, Noah Garden, Jeff Kurtz, Danny Rubin, Craig Silver, Gordon A. Uehling III, Tracy Wolfson, and Barry Zeller. The scholarship awards have been made possible by the Joseph and Arlene Taub Foundation in memory of Joseph Taub z”l.

For more information, including VIP sponsorship opportunities and tickets, go to jccotp.org/sportsnight, call (201) 408-1412, or email Hilary Baris, hbaris@jccotp.org.

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