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

Time to reserve tickets to the Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala


September 21, 2018

Paul Stenzler

Step out for a night on the town in your favorite pair of jeans, jazzed up with some glam accessories, at the Jewish Pavilion's Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala. The Oct. 28 affair will be a fun and festive evening of great food, live jazz, and enticing items to bid on in a silent auction.

The slogan for the milestone 18th-chai-anniversary gala is "To Life!" It will be a celebration of the spark of Jewish life and culture that the Jewish Pavilion brings to more than 1,000 seniors living in elder care and independent living facilities in Central Florida. The Pavilion's staff and hundreds of volunteers visit individual seniors, celebrate holidays, and conduct engaging programs that draw active participation of residents from all religious traditions.

The Gems and Jeans Gala will be held this year at Hilton Orlando North in Altamonte Springs. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour with appetizer stations and passed gourmet hors d'oeuvres, while guests can view and bid on silent auction items. The dinner will include an array of options to please every palate, plus desserts and coffee. Michael Kramer's Swing State with special guest Michael Andrew will entertain, so wear your dancing shoes.

New this year will be a "wine pull": an opportunity to choose a wrapped bottle of fine wine (at least 90 points on a recognized wine rating scale) for a modest donation. Also being offered are a 50/50 raffle and a very special raffle to win a gift certificate for $1,800 worth of jewelry from Addeo Jewelers of Lake Mary.

Shirley Schoenberger, who is co-chairing the gala with Susan Livingstone, is looking forward to a memorable evening. "It's just fun, and a great way for you to spend your time and your money!" she said. "The Pavilion brings special programs to seniors all over town, and that is a good cause, because they really need that connection."

Each year, the Jewish Pavilion honors two exemplary volunteers for their dedication in supporting the organization's mission. Honored at this year's gala will be Paul Stenzler and Jason Mendelsohn.

Stenzler is the Pavilion Board of Directors' immediate past president and served on the board for several years prior. Born on Manhattan's Lower East Side and raised in the New York metro area, Stenzler moved to Orlando in 1980. He and his wife, Terri Fine, are active in Orlando's Jewish community. The former vice president of sales for Cues, Inc., an Orlando firm that designs robotic systems for maintaining pipelines, Stenzler is now retired, studies guitar, and is an active runner and soft martial arts practitioner in addition to his extensive volunteer work with the Pavilion.

Stenzler became aware of the Jewish Pavilion when volunteers visited his mother and then followed her to several facilities over the years as her care needs changed. He started bringing his guitar to the Pavilion's Sabbath services at his mother's residences, and his involvement increased from there.

"I love this organization," Stenzler said. "It is a true outreach at the grassroots level. And sooner or later, all of us, if we're local, will need the services of the Jewish Pavilion in one way or another."

Nancy Ludin, the Pavilion's executive director, commends Stenzler's effective board leadership over the last two years, noting that he has also served the Pavilion in a number of capacities over many years. "He has been an active volunteer leader for years leading Sabbath services, memorial programs and musicales," said Ludin. "His band, Rhythm Release, has performed gratis at most of the Jewish Pavilion galas."

Mendelsohn is a Jewish Pavilion board member and a strong voice for the Pavilion in the Orlando community. An almost lifelong Central Florida resident, Mendelsohn moved to Orlando with his parents, Herb and Toby, and brother, Jon, in 1972 from Washington, D.C. His twin sisters, Jamie and Jill, were born here.

The family became very involved in Orlando's Jewish community, and Mendelsohn met his future wife, Ronni, as teens when they were members of United Synagogue Youth, where he served as president and Ronni succeeded him. Ronni's family, the Farbers, are also longtime Central Floridians. The couple has three children: Ryan and Lauren, 17, are seniors at Edgewater High and Adam, 11, is a Maitland Middle student.

Mendelsohn is president of Ashar Group, a family-owned national life settlement brokerage firm. He started the business with his father, an area dermatologist, and brother almost 16 years ago. Mendelsohn's sister Jamie also joined the firm.

Jason Mendelsohn

His involvement with the Pavilion stems in part from seeing what the visits and programs meant to his father-in-law, a resident of Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs who passed away this summer. "I love the idea of caring for people that need to be cared for," said Mendelsohn. "The Pavilion helps Jewish residents of these facilities maintain their dignity and maintain their connection to Judaism when it's easy for them to be forgotten."

Ludin praises Mendelsohn's deep commitment to the organization. Said Ludin, "Jason Mendelsohn is full of ideas. He has served diligently on the Jewish Pavilion Board for the past two years. He has gotten many younger people involved with the organization, and he and his wife are hosting our annual board get together in November."

The Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala will be held Oct. 28, 2018, beginning at 5 p.m., at Hilton Orlando North, 350 S. Northlake Blvd., Altamonte Springs. Tickets are $118/person prior to Oct. 15; $136/person after Oct. 15; call 407-678-9363 to make reservations.


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