2016 Community Year in Review



The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando announced $50,000 in collaborative community grants to 11 Central Florida programs and services. An additional $10,000 in grants was awarded to Federation’s JTEN.

Robert Petree, deeply committed to Israel and the Jewish community, died. He was 82.


After serving as Boy Scout Troop 6’s chaplain for seven years, Brian Collins of the Dr. Phillips community was presented the Shofar Award at the Court of Honor.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces hosted a performance by IDF soldiers held at Congregation Ohev Shalom.

An Oviedo resident’s Israel flag that was displayed in her front yard was sprayed with red paint in an act of anti-Semitic vandalism.

After two years of service to the community, Lauren Brown closed her kosher restaurant, Brown’s New York Deli & Restaurant. “It just wasn’t doing enough volume to sustain it,” she said.

Eleven men and women were chosen for the Jerome J. Bornstein Leadership Development Program. The class of 2015-16 included Ming Marx, Andrew Gluck, Ari Vinokur, Michelle Zaltsberg, Jessica Hoch, Heidi Zissman, Sam Friedman, Marissa Branisavljevic, Mollie Savage and Alaina Wilder.

Eighteen Jewish moms from Central Florida with 385 other women from across the country visited Israel through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Program’s Momentum trip.


Kol Tikvah and Shir Joy, singers from Congregation of Reform Judaism, performed live on Jewish Rock Radio. The two groups were created and directed by Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer.

An incident of anti-Semitic vandalism occurred in the Winter Springs/Tuscawilla area. Someone spray painted a swastika and the word “Surprise” on the garage door and driveway of the home of David and Debra House.

Mahjong was everywhere! First, one group of ladies donated their wall-game winnings to the JFS Orlando Pearlman Food Pantry. Second, another group of ladies playing their mahjong game in their community clubhouse were shut down for gambling by the Altamonte Springs police. Eventually, the situation was resolved and the ladies had a good laugh and enjoyed all the publicity they received—the story went viral all across the U.S.

Congregation Beth Am, Temple Beth Sholom, Congregation Ohev Shalom and Temple Israel Men’s Clubs honored individuals from their synagogues with the Man of the Year/Youth of the Year awards.


It was the end of an era for Ben’s Bake Shop. The shop, that supplied many with Shabbat Challah, closed its doors on Dec. 24.


Maitland police responded to a call of a bomb threat at the Jewish Acadmey of Orlando and The Roth Family JCC.


Congregation Ohev Shalom honored Cantor Allan Robuck for his 25 years of musical joy.

David Wayne stepped down as executive director of The Roth Family JCC.

The Jewish Academy of Orlando Board of Directors voted to sublease its building. By downsizing building space, the school freed up resources to develop it progressive curriculum.

The Rosen JCC held a grand opening of its expanded facility that houses classrooms, a parenting Center, STEM lab, catering kitchen and retrofitted youth space.

At the International Holocaust Remembrance Day observance, a standing-room only audience listened spell bound as Tess Wise, founder of the Center, shared her stsory of survival in Poland and Germany during World War II. Afterward, she was presented with 30 white roses in honor of her 30 years of service at the Holocaust Center.


A permanent donor sign was installed at The Roth Family JCC to acknowledge the 88 donors who contributed to the gym renovation project in memory of community leader Charles Schwartz.

Nate’s Shul, the new home for Chabad of North Orlando was dedicated.

The Roth Family JCC received JCC Excellence Awards for marketing.

The ACCoRD Project, comprised of a group of action-oriented individuals who want to see a change in the negative political arena, was launched this month. ACCoRD is an acronym for “Advocating for Civility, Cooperation, Respect and Dignity.”

The Kinneret Council on Aging recognized eight individuals in the community for their contributions over the years at the “8 Over 80” honorary dinner. The recipients were Robert Geller, Dr. Marvin Newman, Dr. Harry Rein, Irwin Feldman, Sheldon Greene, Judy Godorov, Edith Schulman and Carol Simpson.


Several UCF students attended the national AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., where they encouraged others to have a “come together” spirit in a very divided political arena.

Local philanthropist and entrepreneur Alan Ginsburg and his family honored his late son and daughter-in-law with the creation of the Jeffrey & Diane Ginsburg Center for Jewish Student Life at Central Florida Hillel.

Temple Shir Shalom officially installed Cantor Kim Singer as its spiritual leader.

Software engineer Alex Kahn, son of Valerie and Dr. Bernie Kahn, was awarded the first ever Owl Award for an alum of the Startup Institute in Chicago.


The entire Jewish community came together for a “Mitzvah Day” of service to Central Florida. One project was to help clean up Lake Killarney. Another involved children at the Jewish Academy of Orlando for an arts and crafts project making birthday cards for children in the hospital.

Grace Nelson, wife of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, was the guest speaker at an ACCoRD Project tea, held at Barbara and Burt Chasnov’s home.

Aaron Gorovitz was named one of the top fundraisers in the U.S. He received a national Stop Diabetes-Share award from the American Diabetes Association for his outstanding contributions in the fight to stop diabetes.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s Campus 2020 took aim at the Maitland campus debt. Advisory Board members and Federation leaders Dick and Dottie Appelbaum, Ron and Mardi Shader, Olga Yorish, Dr. Ed and Phyllis Zissman, Allan and Diane Goldberg, Michael Soll, Rhonda Forest and Joe and Anita Hara, Neal Crasnow, Dr. Susan Drukman, Mark and Caryn Israel, and Julian and Sheryl Meitin met to plan ways to retire the Maitland Jewish Community campus’ debt by Jan. 1, 2020.

Marcia Jo Zerivitz, founding executive director of the Jewish Museum of Florida, was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters—Honoris Causa from Florida International University. It is the highest academic recognition a university can confer to an individual for their contributions to a variety of fields and causes.


Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer was elected to the position of vice vice president of member Relations and External partnerships of the American Conference of Cantors.

Sam Friedman became the assistant director of Central Florida Hillel.

Orlando Jewish groups responded to the terrorist shooting at the Pulse night club with sadness and calls to action.


Theater at the J directors Kerry and Amada Giese hosted a One Orlando Concert to help raise money for the medical bills, funeral costs and day-to-day expenses for the people who lost loved ones in the Pulse massacre.

To honor the victims and families of the tragic Pulse Club massacre, Temple Israel member Emily Raij produced a custom-designed commemorative T-shirt which shows the Jewish community’s support and love for all who were affected by the event.


The Heritage honored Susan Bierman as the recipient of the Heritage Human Service Award. Bierman, who was in Italy at the time the award was presented at the Jewish Federation Annual Meeting, accepted the award via video—a first for an acceptance speech here.

Temple Beth-El welcomed its new rabbi, Rabbi Courtney Berman.

Altamonte Springs resident Barbra Resnick was a two-time champion of Jeopardy! She earned a total of $20,000 for her two wins.

UCF’s Judaic Studies director, Dr. Moshe Pelli, stepped down and Dr. Kenneth Hanson stepped up to the directorship of the program. Pelli had been the director since 1984.

Two separate congregations created Klal Israel under one roof. Temple Israel, a conservative congregation, and Temple Shir Shalom, a Reform congregation, are sharing Temple Israel’s building and have created a partnership with their religious schools.

Eagle Scout Daniel Brown designed and landscaped the Temple Israel Cemetery as his Eagle Scout Service Project. With 27 volunteers, he led his team in over 100 hours of grading, laying stone, planting rose bushes, spreading marble chips, laying sod and mulching to produce a beautiful entryway at the site.

Two of our own—Ben Brent, son of Rene Brent of Lake Mary and David Brent of Israel, and Roni Weil, daughter of Aaron and Sharon Weil of Maitland—left the community to become Lone Soldiers in Israel’s IDF. They traveled to Israel via the Nefesh B’Nefesh program in cooperation with Friends of the IDF and the Lone Soldiers Program.


Keith Dvorchik became the new chief executive officer of The Roth Family JCC. He will take over his new position Oct. 1.

Ina Porth was honored to receive the 2016 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award from the Jewish Federations of North America. This distinction honors the most inspiring women in Jewish communities throughout North America. Porth is an inspiring woman, having served the Orlando Jewish community in many capacities for 38 years.


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