Stars shine at JCC Star of David Awards Dinner

Stars shine at JCC Star of David Awards Dinner


The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island has been finding ways to help the community for quite some time now, from building day camps in 1932, to preschools since 1960. It has always been an active helper for the community and Staten Island as a whole.

On Jan. 20, the JCC held an awards dinner at which it recognized four individuals. This was the first time the JCC had ever done such a thing and thus marked the start of a new tradition to go along with its countless others.

Ruth Lasser, director of communications for the JCC, was gushing with pride when speaking about the Star of David Awards Dinner.

“This was the start of a new tradition,” she said, “an event to honor men who have made a difference in our community by the exemplary service they generously provide to the larger community as well as the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island.”

The four honorees were Stephen J. Blumert, who received the Mitzvah Award for Outstanding Service; Jerold Gross and Bernard Kahn, who each received the Menorah Award for Volunteer Service; and David Sorkin, who won the Spirit of Judaism Award for Community Leadership.

It was such a high honor for Sorkin, the executive director of the JCC, that he actually felt a bit peculiar receiving it, stating, “It feels a bit unusual to be the person receiving the award since I’m usually the person presenting one. It’s a wonderful honor to be with this group of dedicated men and to be recognized for what each of us does for our community.”

Working with the JCC for the past 10 years, Sorkin is no stranger to handing out awards. Although he has only been at the JCC on Staten Island for a decade, he is no stranger to the executive director position, being that he has held that position in Staten Island and other locations for 30-plus years.

With a crowd of approximately 180 people, each man was presented his award and gave a heartfelt speech of thanks. One speech in particular that had a strong effect was the one made by Kahn when he suggested if anyone in attendance was looking to make a donation in their honor to instead make the donation to Sunrise Day Camp, which, according to Lasser, is “a new program the JCC is starting this summer that will provide summer camp fun for children with cancer and their siblings free of charge.”

Each award was engraved with a quote that Lasser says, “really captures the sentiment.” The quotation was “Each and every person has a star in heaven and according to his deeds does it shine.”

Lasser summed it up perfectly when she said, “By the end of the evening, it was obvious that these four men have stars that shine brightly.