Saturday, February 16, 2019

Marilyn and Chaim Ezra Berkowitz receive Keter Shem Tov Community Service award from President Sim Shapiro. (Credit: George Eisenberger)

Ner Tamid honoree Devora Albelda receives her award from President Sim Shapiro (center) and last year’s honoree, Craig Abada-Zern (right). (Credit: George Eisenberger)

Honoree and shul candy man Chaim Ezra Berkowitz presents a lollipop to White Plains Mayor Tom Roach. (Credit: George Eisenberger)

Guests of honor Yael and Sandy Rosenberg. (Credit: George Eisenberger)

The Young Israel of White Plains broke all previous fundraising records at its recent roots-themed annual dinner. The dinner honored beloved lay leaders Yael and Sandy Rosenberg, Marilyn and Chaim Ezra Berkowitz and Devora Albelda.

“You seldom see the roots of a plant or tree, but roots go deep and they enable the plant to thrive,” said Faigy Wolf, YIWP board secretary and co-chair, with YIWP Vice President Yael Rosenberg, of the gala evening. “That’s the way it is with our honorees. The Rosenbergs, Berkowitzes and Devora Albelda don’t make a show of what they do. Whether they are devoting themselves tirelessly to our shul or our community, they have been crucial to enabling us to thrive.”

Guest of honor award-winners Yael and Sandy Rosenberg participate in just about every YIWP activity. Yael has served on the board of trustees, currently as vice president, for six years. She originated and spearheads the holiday cookie bake in which YIWP children bake and deliver cookies and cards to local first-responders working on Christmas day. She also serves on the Youth Committee and co-chairs Family Learning Nights. Sandy serves on the Security and Shiva Committees and will constantly help with any tasks at hand. Together, Yael and Sandy have been integral to increasing Dinner Journal ad revenue by 150 percent since 2013.

“Take any positive attribute of our community and you will find Yael and Sandy to be the perfect examples,” said YIWP President Sim Shapiro. “Down-to-earth. Devoted to their community. Always there when you need them. Caring friends. Loving parents. Yael and Sandy simply represent the very best that the Young Israel of White Plains has to offer.”

Marilyn and Chaim Ezra Berkowitz, Keter Shem Tov Community Service honorees, have been White Plains residents for more than 50 years and are well-known for their acts of tzedakah and chesed, welcoming guests into their home and donating kiddush receptions to help ensure the shul’s heimish quality. They both serve with the Westchester Rosh Pina Chevra. Chaim Ezra, a Holocaust survivor, is a long-time shul candy man, building rapport with successive generations of children not only with his treats, but also with the ever-present twinkle in his eye and his playful manner.

“I am especially grateful to Chaim Ezra for being a regular member of our Monday night Gemara class,” said Rabbi Shmuel Greenberg, Rabbi of YIWP. “We sit transfixed as we listen to his insights, anecdotes, stories and even songs of the world that was.”

Capping the evening was the surprise announcement of Devora Albelda as recipient of the Ner Tamid award. The award is presented to a member of the Young Israel of White Plains community who exemplifies the Ner Tamid or Eternal Light, a person who works tirelessly, often behind the scenes and without seeking recognition, to better the shul and community. Albelda won the award for donating her time, effort and creativity to arrange flowers for Shabbat and most of the bnei mitzvot that take place at the shul. Albelda’s arrangements often thoughtfully incorporate the colors of a child’s favorite sports team or other special requests. Always, she adds to the simcha of Shabbat or an event by bringing her beautiful arrangements within financial reach of all shul members.

In keeping with the “roots” theme, the evening included a video montage from YIWP’s first 32 years. In addition to Wolf and Rosenberg, the dinner committee and others who assisted with the event included Robye Margolius, Amy Abramson, Erica Berger, George Eisenberger, Ilana Englander, Tzvi Englander, Joyce Kinches, Phyllis Morris, Roni Grill Nadell, Andy Pressner, Sandy Rosenberg, Amy Singer, Nadine Staffenberg, Yonah Wolf, and Gary Yudewitz.. For more information about the growing shul, visit


Join Our List
and receive information on community events, announcements, exclusive sales and our issue emails.