Chai Society Mitzvah Award Dinner
The Chai Society of Wagner College announced the honorees for its 12th annual Community Mitzvah Awards, which are to be presented during a gala dinner on Tuesday May 22, starting at 6pm in the Wagner Union. A special performance will showcase the talent of Elmore James and Zalmen Mlotek of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbeine, currently in rehearsals for Fiddler on the Roof. Honorees were chosen among leaders of all faiths who have advanced Holocaust education and Jewish culture and promoted tolerance and social justice in our borough and city. All are welcome.
Born in Italy to two Holocaust survivors, esteemed publishing executive Jack Kliger is the first recipient of the Monroe J. Klein ’66 Humanitarian Award. Jack Kliger has managed and reshaped some of the world’s most iconic magazines, including Glamour, GQ, Elle, Parade, Woman’s Day and TV Guide. A visionary Executive Vice President of Condé Nast Publications, he later became President and CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. He is being honored for his commitment to Holocaust remembrance, notably as a board member of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. His mother, Ann Benedickt, a survivor of the Budapest ghetto, will be in attendance.
At this inaugural presentation of the award, Monroe’s wife Marcia Klein, a 2017 Woman of Achievement, and son Laird Klein will make a tribute to their father—Wagner alumnus, businessman and veteran Monroe Klein, a founder of the Chai Society and much admired on Staten Island for his warmth, humor and good deeds.
The Civic Leadership Award goes to Jennifer Straniere, a 2009 Woman of Achievement. Straniere inspires students, faculty and community in her theater work at the College of Staten Island (CSI) where she is Director of Facilities for the Department of Performing and Creative Arts. “I share my love of history every time I direct a drama or musical.” Jennifer met her husband, Judge Phillip Straniere, while studying at Wagner, before transferring to Richmond College, the predecessor to CSI, to study history and political science. Both Jennifer and Phil are strong supporters of Hillel and Jewish life on campus.
The Spirit of Change Award will be given to Joe Delaney, currently chairman of the board of Catholic Charities/Staten Island. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, of Project Hospitality and of the University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of Staten Island. Delaney has directed the Club’s Annual Bread of Life Drive (BOLD), which has donated more than 1 million items of food to 25 not-for-profit organizations. He is retired from a 40-year career at Deloitte LLP, where his spirit of volunteerism was also recognized.
The Courage Award will be presented to Jack Chernak, Executive Director of 49 Strong Inc., which offers violence prevention, mentoring and job readiness programs to African-American men. At Integration Charter Schools, Jack is Director of School Aides, supporting staff and scholars with challenges. He is also a board member of the Department of Youth and Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board No. 1 on Staten Island.
Auschwitz survivor Hannah Steiner and child survivor Arthur Spielman will present the Next Generation Award to Cameron Haffner to express their gratitude for the videos of their life stories that he created. A Senior Arts Administration Major, Cameron’s videos of seven local Holocaust survivors have been shown to much acclaim at several local schools, Temple Israel Reform Congregation and the SI-JCC.
Chai Society Board Chairpersons Dr. Victor and Kim Avis as well as Dr. Richard and Carin Guarasci and Prof. Lori R. Weintrob, Director of the Holocaust Center, will welcome guests to the awards dinner, which raises funds for Holocaust education on Staten Island. In the past five years, the Wagner College Holocaust Center has arranged for local Holocaust survivors to speak with more than 3,000 students as well as for an annual Holocaust art and essay contest in the schools.
For information and tickets call Betty McCominsky, at 718-420-4014 or email email@example.com. Kosher option available.