HIWP Annual Dinner

Hebrew Institute of White Plains
67th Annual Testimonial Dinner
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When: Sunday, June 4, 2017 @ 5pm
Where: Congregation Kol Ami, 252 Soundview Ave, White Plains, NY 10606

 

 

Our Honorees

Paula & Evan Gilder

Alexandra & David Kahn

Wendy Leibowitz

 

Paula & Evan Gilder

gilder-paula-evan-bioemail

Paula and Evan arrived in White Plains in July 1996 after visiting almost every Jewish community within the New York/New Jersey area.

Evan grew up in Brooklyn and went to Brooklyn College. After graduating in 1988, he started working for Chemical Bank, then went on to pursue his MBA at Fordham University. After spending 12 years in the financial services industry, witnessing the second plane hit the World Trade Center on 9-11 inspired Evan to launch a business of “passion and compassion”, providing advisory services on tax and financial matters to families dealing with aging and incapacity.

Paula grew up in Spring Valley, NY. She attended public school and was one of the few students who actually enjoyed going to Hebrew School.  She spent a semester on the Tel Aviv University Overseas Program and graduated from Queens College with a Degree in Elementary Education. Years later, with the assistance and encouragement of her husband, parents, and a somewhat flexible carpool, Paula went back to school and received her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2010 from Sacred Heart University. Paula works for the New York City Department of Education as an Occupational Therapist in a barrier free public school.

Evan and Paula were set up by a mutual friend, and hit it off almost immediately. They were married in August of 1993 and lived in Kew Garden Hills until their move to White Plains.

Giving back is something Evan and Paula do both personally and professionally on a daily basis. They believe that the only way to truly instill and teach good values to their children is to lead by example. Evan acted as the HI House Manager for two years, was an active member of the White Plains Israel Action Committee, and helps protect HIWP as a Shomer on shabbat. As a member of the HI Board of Directors, Evan can be found at HI at least two nights a week assisting with the Scouting program. Paula spent many years sculpting balloons at the Purim carnival and planning other events including the Sukkot dinners, Adult Planning activities and Youth Shomer.

Paula and Evan’s son Daniel, an active outdoor enthusiast, would also change their family and the White Plains community.   Evan, with the assistance of then President Dean Ungar, launched scouting in the Hebrew Institute in 2010, making ours the eighth community to have a Jewish Boy Scouts Pack and Troop. Pack 613 and Troop 613 is now the biggest Jewish Scout group on the East Coast. Daniel became the Troop’s first Eagle Scout, a feat less than 2% of scouts accomplish. Daniel built the stoywalk at the Bryant Mamaroneck Park. Their two daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, also became hooked on scouting, and Paula decided to help launch a Jewish Girl scout troop in 2014.

Paula and Evan feel privileged to be part of the HIWP family, and look forward to sharing more happy occasions within the community.   Paula’s parents, Peggy and Ed Krupnik and Evan’s mother, Eileen Gilder, also call White Plains their home.

 

Alexandra & David Kahn

 

kahn-bioemailIn search of a community with a “small town” feel, David and Alexandra moved to White Plains from Riverdale in the summer of 2010 and joined the Hebrew Institute. Impressed with how friendly and welcoming the shul was from the start, David and Alexandra quickly became involved. Alexandra joined the Board, and was recruited to lead the Youth Committee. David fused his passion for the environment and good food by organizing a Tu B’Shvat Green Kiddush and Shabbat. There was no turning back. David was recruited to lead the Kiddush Committee and soon became involved in his other passion related to improving business processes. He engaged with the office staff and community members to improve the website and office operations. Before they knew it, David was asked to serve as the president of the shul at a very exciting moment in our history – the shul renovation project was well underway. Good times indeed!

David and Alexandra appreciate their friends and sense of community that the HIWP family provides, and they are particularly grateful to Rabbi Marder and Suzie whom they consider as close friends and mentors. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, and Pittsburgh, PA, respectively, HIWP represents many of the values that they both recall from their childhoods.  Namely, that Jewish life and community should be accessible to everyone and that the doors of the synagogue are always open to anyone who is interested.

David and Alexandra are the proud parents of Eli, Joey, and Tzipi. These three kids run to shul every Friday night, Shabbat morning, and they’re even back for mincha each week.  Each member of the Kahn family has found a home within HIWP and being involved is important to all of them.  David, the son of Nelly and Henri Kahn, and Alexandra, the daughter of Ellen and Loren Roth, are inspired daily by their parents’ devotion to their own communities, and they are trying to raise children who share the same sense of communal responsibility.

Professionally, David works for the global company, SAP, in the field of Supply Chain Enterprise Software, and Alexandra is the Managing Director of the Caring Commission at UJA Federation of New York.  In this capacity, she oversees all of the organization’s grant making in the human services.  Alexandra also serves on the board of Westchester Day School, which their three children happily attend.

 

Wendy Leibowitz

 

leibowitz-bioemailDavid (A”H) and Wendy were both born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and met shortly after Wendy began her freshman year at Brooklyn College. While she was immediately smitten, it took David, who was in his senior year, almost a year to finally ask for a date. They then discovered they actually lived around the corner from each other. “So much for knowing your neighbors,” jokes Wendy.  They married in 1968 and in 1972, seeking a community to settle in, moved to White Plains.  The distance traveled from their roots went far beyond the actual miles. “Most of our family and friends who left Brooklyn moved to Long Island or New Jersey and couldn’t understand our choice of Westchester” says Wendy, but “we were happy to trade concrete for trees and long subway rides to work for the commuter railroad and gain a diverse, welcoming community .”

The young couple (yes, they were young in 1972) settled in, but initially joined a different synagogue. As the years passed, they craved a more personal and “traditional” religious experience. After a short round of shul hopping they found what they were looking for at Hebrew Institute, and joined in 1992. “The first person we encountered at HI was Bert Rosenstock,” relates Wendy. He immediately made the couple feel welcome and exemplified the community spirit of the Shul.  Rabbi Grauer’s hearty welcome helped seal the deal. They soon were regularly attending Shabbos services and were gratified that Rabbi Marder continued to foster the warm, welcoming environment when he succeeded Rabbi Grauer. Though not taking an active role in Shul affairs during this time, the Leibowitz’s found the Shul to be a calm, spiritual respite from the stresses of managing careers and many unsuccessful years of trying to create a family.

Wendy’s professional career spanned over 16 years with a large financial services company, progressing up the ranks to become a marketing research officer, and then moving on to become a marketing executive with a large banking institution. When the bank was acquired by another bank, Wendy decided to spread her wings and for the next 24 years headed her own marketing and business consulting firm. During her career Wendy was an active member of the Financial Women’s Association of NY, serving on their board for many years. As well, for over 10 years she co-chaired the organization’s New York City Mentoring initiative, one-on-one programs for young women domiciled in a NYC High School and Baruch College. Each program encompasses 30+ pairs and provides educational programming; college prep; career counseling; scholarships to qualifying students; and social and cultural activities. The program was considered by several Harvard researchers to be the “model” for a successful big city mentoring program.  “With the time and effort needed to ensure success for our programs, I often felt this was my full-time work, and work was just a sideline. However, some of the greatest satisfaction I experienced was taking part in the growth and success of our students.”

Over the years Wendy and David found that they wanted to travel and see the world, and so embarked on numerous adventures that had them visit over 100 countries and all seven continents (yes, all 7). “I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so many places and have mostly wonderful experiences, more than I ever thought possible.”

At year-end 2012, Wendy decided it was time to hang up her professional “hat” and begin the next chapter in her life. While this new phase includes a continuation of traveling (“I still have a few places on my bucket list”), Wendy’s main focus became volunteering at Hebrew Institute. She has been active on the Shul’s renovation committee and is on the new kitchen committee. She currently serves on the HI Board, as well as on the programing committee for MOFIA activities. Wendy also is a member of the Thrift Shop team and can usually be found in the shop each Wednesday. In another important activity, Wendy is a member of the Shul’s Shromim team. “Not only do these activities keep me active, they are all deeply satisfying and have given me the gift of getting to know and work with a great group of dedicated Shul members and staff. I have now experienced first-hand the hard work and effort of people who inspire me to step up my own game and seek out additional opportunities to contribute to HI.”

There is a saying that “home is where the heart is,” and according to Wendy, “HI has become my home and extended family.”