Rabbi Michael D. Howald - Spirit of Judaism Award
Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Howald became a rabbi after practicing law in Los Angeles for over 18 years. Rabbi Howald graduated from Stanford University in 1979 and Stanford Law School in 1982 and was an article editor on the Stanford Law Review. Since coming to Staten Island, Rabbi Howald became a member of the board of the Hillel of the College of Staten Island. Rabbi Howald has also served as co-chair, with Reverend Karen Jackson, of Staten Island Interfaith Leadership. In that capacity, he has hosted or led “Friendship Dinners” all over Staten Island for years, bringing together people of different faiths and backgrounds to share a meal together and discuss matters of public and personal importance. As co-chair, Rabbi Howald has also been involved with numerous issues of social justice on Staten Island from gun violence, anti-immigrant bias, and antisemitism to seeking equality for all regardless of race, faith, origin, gender identity or sexual orientation. Through this work, the Staten Island Jewish community, and his clergy partners of all faiths, teach Rabbi Howald everyday about the meaning of service and devotion to God.
Rabbi Howald has been married for more than 34 wonderful and eventful years to Robin Bronzaft Howald, who he met as a student at Stanford Law School. Rabbi and Robin Howald have two grown sons, Brian and Kevin, who have, to the wonderment of their parents, decided to pursue careers in computer science. Rabbi Howald is particularly grateful to his family for supporting him, even through a mid-life career change, in everything he does.
Steven Kessler - Mitzvah Award
In addition to growing up at the JCC on Victory Boulevard and participating in many activities, especially sports, Steve attended the JCC summer camp for a number of years at the Henry Kaufman Campgrounds, which the JCC still uses for its current summer campers.
Following Steve’s college years, he became a JCC employee from 1968-76, serving as the Physical Education Director, Teen Director and Summer Travel Camp Director. In 1976, he left the JCC to open the first “Athlete’s Foot” sporting goods store in Manhattan, eventually owning 4 of these franchise stores on the West Side of Manhattan. During this time Steve became a member of the JCC’s Board of Directors and after serving as chairman of a variety of JCC committees was elected Board President from 1990-92. In 1999, in recognition of his volunteer efforts, he received the “Jewish Leadership Award” from UJA Federation of New York. Steve was appointed Sports Chairman of the first Maccabi Games (teenage Jewish Olympics) ever held in New York City in August 2000.
In 2001, Steve resumed his role as Phys. Ed Director and Program Director at the JCC. In 2004, he became Assistant Beacon Director at IS49 in Stapleton. The Beacon Program is the leading after school program, as well as the oldest, that is hosted by the Staten Island Middle School. Steve retired from the JCC and the IS49 Beacon Program on July 1st 2019.
Since its inception 18 years ago, Steve has spent much of his time as a volunteer with the Unity Games. The Unity Games is a combination of basketball games mixed with youth activities that help promote respect and tolerance among the youth of the Staten Island community. He has been a member of their Board of Directors for many years. His responsibilities include: ordering all clothing needed by participants, volunteers and Board members. He is also responsible for arranging all logistics necessary to make the Unity Games a successful weekend each year, including busing, game room and participant gifts.
Steve has been married to Laura for over 40 years. They have 2 sons, Michael, his wife Roanna, and Evan and his wife Raquel. Their children have given them 5 grandchildren, Henry, Noah, Leo, Ethan and Ava.
Stewart Feigel - Menorah Award
Stewart received his BA in Political Science in 1973 from Long Island University, and an MA in Criminal Justice in 1979. He started working for the NYC Civil Court in Brooklyn in 1973. In 1985 he was appointed Chief Clerk of Brooklyn Civil Court, and continued in that position until his retirement in 2010. During his tenure, he received the Nathan Sobel Award from the Brooklyn Bar Association for outstanding service to the legal community. He was the first Court Clerk to receive the Award of Merit from the Brooklyn Housing Bar Association.
In 1992, Meredith started Sunday School at Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center. That started a relationship that has lasted until today. Stewart and Jackie both became active at AHBJC where Jackie became Sisterhood President, and in 1995, Stewart was elected to the Board. Over the years, he has held positions such as Vice President and President and continues as Chairman of the Board. For more than 15 years, Stewart took Talmud classes with Rabbi Aaron Raskin of the Brooklyn Heights Chabad.
In the Jewish community, Stewart has been honored by the UJA-Federation of New York at their Annual Community Breakfast. He has also been honored by the Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO) for his volunteer work.
OFER B. NACMIAS - MENORAH AWARD
Ofer has been in the wholesale furniture business for 20 years. He has been the owner of the Sleep Shop on Castleton Avenue for 9 years.
When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, many areas of Staten Island were devastated. The JCC created the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to provide emergency assistance to individuals and families most severely affected by the storm. Many of these families turned to DART for help. Ofer’s Sleep Shop became one of the JCC’s biggest resources. JCC case managers referred need-based clients to Ben. He never refused a client, donating many mattresses for free or for very little depending on their situation. Gratitude from many of these people hang on the wall of his office.
The Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Camp for children with cancer and their siblings, has also been the recipient of Ofer’s generosity. He has donated beds that are used in the nurse’s office at the camp which is run by the JCC and located at Mt. Loretto.
Doron Roth - Rising Star Award
In 2012 Doron served as an Emergency Medical Technician and volunteered for Volunteer Heart ambulance company in Staten Island. Shortly afterwards, he began working as an instructor at the Training Institute for Medical Emergency and Rescue (TIMER) school in Staten Island and trained hundreds of prospective EMTs. In 2015, Doron also served as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for Richmond University Medical Center.
After Hurricane Sandy devastated Staten Island, Doron working closely with the Stephen Siller Foundation and the Jewish Community Center, spent hours delivering clothing, diapers, blankets, and hot meals daily to people in need. He was recognized for his efforts with the City Council Citation of the State of NY Award for Community Service.
Doron continued to work with the Jewish Community as a program associate for the Hillel at the College of Staten Island and was responsible for student engagement.
In December 2018, Doron received a Bachelor’s in nursing from Xavier University to advance his career in the medical profession as a Registered Nurse. He has also worked at Sunrise Day Camp as part of the medical staff in 2017 and 2019 and is currently working on a fundraiser for the camp.
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1466 Manor Road
Staten Island, NY 10314
485 Victory Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10301
1297 Arthur Kill Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
BERMAN EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER
2221 Richmond Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10314