Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Two generations to be honored by JNF


Sy and Debra Israel

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) will honor two generations of the Israel family at its annual Tree of Life™ Award Dinner. Sy and Debra Israel, and Mark and Caryn Israel will receive the Guardian of Israel Award.

“The Israel family is a true testament of two generations that embrace the genuine meaning of tzedakah (charity) and making the world a better place,” said Jim Riola, JNF Orlando board president. “The Israel family’s commitment to JNF and to Israel over the past few decades is truly admirable.”

Sy Israel founded Universal Engineering Services in Merrit Island, Fla., in 1964. Since then, he has led its growth from a small engineering firm to one of the largest geo-technical and environmental engineering company in the U.S. Sy is also dedicated to the community and has served on several boards including the Brevard County Library, Orange County Road Advisory Board, and as a national board member of the Center for Learning and Leadership. He also served as president of the JCC and Jewish Federation in Orlando.

Debra Israel founded Radcliff Interior Services, Inc. in 1995, an interior design firm specializing in commercial and residential design. She has provided her services throughout the U.S. as well as in the international market. One of her many residential design projects was featured in 2010 by Destination Aruba Magazine in a piece called “Desert Luxury.”

Mark Israel, son of Sy Israel, is the president of Universal Engineering Services. Working side-by-side with his father has not only helped him learn the family business, but it has also guided him in the philanthropic path that Sy has created for his family through their love of Israel and JNF.

Caryn and Mark Israel have been married for 15 years and have two children, Brandon, 14 and Lily, 13. They are active in several organizations and synagogues within the Jewish community, including JNF, Orlando Jewish Academy, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Holocaust Memorial Center, Jewish Community Center and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Caryn and Mark Israel

In addition to honoring the Israels, JNF will present the prestigious Tree of Life award to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orlando patrons Lois Tannenbaum, Dick and Louise Weiner, and Ben and Maura Weiner will also be honored at the dinner with the Guardian of Israel award.

Stand-up comedian and writer Joel Chasnoff will entertain the crowd with his notorious comedy routines based on his own personal Jewish experiences. Chasnoff has performed at more than 1,000 colleges, clubs and Jewish organizations worldwide; including JNF’s National Conference in Orlando last October, and has been seen on NBC and ABC TV.

The dinner will take place on Nov. 6 at 6 pm at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, located at 9700 International Drive in Orlando.

Sponsorship information and tickets are available online at jnf.org/orlandotol. For more information, please contact Laura Abramson at labramson@jnf.org or 800.211.1502.


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