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New York, NY - VIDEO-PHOTOS: Ten Honored At 'Jew in The City' Annual Awards For Balancing Professional Success With Torah Lifestyle

Published on: April 4, 2016 10:45 AM
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United Kingdom pension minister Baroness Rosalind Altmann at the podium being presented with an award by Alison Josephs founder of Jew in the City,  at the Jewish Heritage Museum in Lower Manhattan on Mar. 31, 2016.United Kingdom pension minister Baroness Rosalind Altmann at the podium being presented with an award by Alison Josephs founder of Jew in the City,  at the Jewish Heritage Museum in Lower Manhattan on Mar. 31, 2016.

New York, NY - It was a celebration of Judaism at the Orthodox Jewish All Star Awards, as over 200 people turned out to honor ten outstanding individuals who have made their mark in the professional world while remaining steadfast in their commitment to their religious observance.

The annual event is a project of Jew in the City, an organization founded by Allison Josephs to debunk stereotypes about Orthodox Jews while highlighting the beauty of a Torah lifestyle.

The awards ceremony, held this past Thursday night at the Jewish Heritage Museum in Lower Manhattan, recognized the accomplishments of a diverse group of individuals who span the spectrum of Orthodoxy in their own practice of Judaism.

Below VIN News video segment includes interviews with some of the honorees:

Among the honorees was Baroness Rosalind Altmann who was appointed to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom as the country’s pension minister one year ago.

Described by Prime Minister David Cameron as “the country’s leading expert on pensions, savings and financial education,” Dr. Altmann has devoted much of her career to highlighting financial injustices and championing consumer rights.  A strong believer in community service and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Dr. Altmann often engages in pro bono work and has publicly stated that she donates 20 percent of her income to charity.

Dr. Altmann spoke of every individual having a sense of purpose in the world which includes a wider responsibility to help others.

“Maybe it’s a natural Jewish thing to try and help people, to have compassion, to look after those who are less fortunate or in some way need help,” Dr. Altmann told VIN News. “You don’t turn your back on people who need help.  You actually go out of your way to try and help them and I think that comes very loud and clear through Judaism and through the Torah really.”

Dr. Altmann, the first Shomer Shabbos government minister in the United Kingdom, said that her religious observance has never created an issue. She noted that the government has been extremely accepting of her beliefs, as demonstrated by her appointment to the House of Lords which took place on Shabbos in April 2015.  The media was informed that Dr. Altmann would not be available for live interviews because of her Shabbos observance and she appeared only in pre-recorded footage with the prime minister when the announcement was made public.

“They have been really respectful of the fact that I am an Orthodox Jew and accommodating,” said Dr. Altmann. “Shabbat, kashrut, [are] not a problem and I feel very fortunate to live in a country that is able to allow people like myself to be fully part of the secular word as well as having our religious observance.”

Award winning television writer and executive producer Ilana WernickAward winning television writer and executive producer Ilana Wernick

Bennett Wernick, father of award winning television writer and executive producer Ilana Wernick, wore his role as parent of a Jew in the City All Star proudly.

“The nachas comes not from that she’s an Emmy winning comedy writer, but that she’s an Emmy winning comedy writer that is shomer Shabbos, and that is an inspiration.”

Ms.Wernick said that in her job as a comedy writer she has never had anyone take issue with her need to leave early on Fridays or her yom tov absences.

“I find that if you are very good at your job and sincere in your beliefs that no one is resentful,” said Ms. Wernick.  “So far I have been good at my job and they respect what I brought to the table the rest of the week.”

She described one incident where she was part of a group of people from a television show who went bowling together and problems arose when she had kosher pizza delivered to the bowling alley.  The owner of the bowling alley refused to permit outside food into his establishment and the star of the television show offered to pay the owner any amount of money to allow the kosher pizza into his bowling alley, a gesture that Ms. Wernick found very touching.

Bennett Wernick, (seated at front row from below, holding camera) father of award winning television writer and executive producer Ilana WernickBennett Wernick, (seated at front row from below, holding camera) father of award winning television writer and executive producer Ilana Wernick

The awards ceremony included pre-recorded videotaped segments of each of the ten honorees.  Ahmad Zayat,  owner and breeder of American Pharaoh, winner of the 2015 Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.  Zayat described himself as an optimist by nature, who has somehow managed to marry his unshakeable faith to his love of horses. 

“At the end of the day we all have a higher calling and we all have our own value system,” said Zayat.  “My kids and us hopefully grew up in a certain way where we have never compromised what’s important.”

Setting priorities has helped Zayat keep his balance in a world that rarely sees Orthodox Jews.

“For us its always G-d, family, friends, country in that order,” remarked Zayat.  “We never compromise on what we believe is right. We’ve been tested a lot, it’s not an easy sport.  Faith is an important part of our daily ritual from the minute we open our eyes till the day we close our eyes.”

Zayat’s wife Joanne shared how she packs a full Shabbos whenever they need to be on the road over the weekend, “from wine to gefilte fish to desserts to candles to Saturday morning bagels and shmear, where we have the press so they can come experience Shabbos morning with the Zayats.”

In one instance, a horse that was a heavy favorite to win the Kentucky Derby was injured just before the start of the race. Because the race was held on Shabbos, there was no way of contacting the Zayats and their hopes for winning a Triple Crown were dashed that year.

“There’s got to be some barometer of a higher authority that he got hurt and there’s nothing we could do,” noted Mrs. Zayat. “You have to make sure you have your priorities in line.  Once you cross that line and you start making concessions and you’re not true to who you are? It’s a slippery slope.”

The Zayats celebrated their thrilling Triple Crown win in their RV with a Shabbos morning kiddush with members of the media.  One person from CNBC was astonished to find Mrs. Zayat personally fussing over everyone like the stereotypical Jewish mother, making sure they all had enough food to eat.

“It’s funny because I think we brought a different flavor to the entire old world, blue grass world of the Kentuckyians,” observed Mrs. Zayat.

Celebrity jewelry designer Zahava Reisman (Photo credit Moishy Grunfeld )Celebrity jewelry designer Zahava Reisman (Photo credit Moishy Grunfeld )

Celebrity jewelry designer Zahava Reisman spoke about her Sarah Chloe jewelry, which includes three lines named for each of her three daughters.  Ms. Reisman, who admitted to a love of marketing, credited her exceptionally driven publicist with making her designs popular among A-list celebrities and noted that she was inspired by her grandmother who went into business after her husband died prematurely in order to support her children, starting a men’s retail store that is still in business today.

“She was always kind of a spearheader to shake things up, change things,” said Ms. Reisman. “I remember her telling me how before the war in Poland she wanted to become a doctor and then unfortunately the war broke out so she wasn’t able to pursue her dreams but she was always ahead of the time trying out different things before it was kind of socially acceptable, not only in the Jewish religious community but in the world as a whole as young woman being interested in pursuing her dreams.”

Mrs. Josephs noted that Jew in the City has grown beyond anything she ever imagined when she first began releasing videos and blog posts in 2007.  She described the annual Orthodox Jewish All Star Awards as yet another way of demonstrating that taking on an observant lifestyle doesn’t mean giving up on career plans or personal goals.

“You don’t have to think that you have to be in a small box to be frum,” said Mrs. Josephs. “If you have some crazy dream, a lot of the time you can work it into a life of Torah and mitzvos.”

Other honorees included 2014 CNN Hero Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, founder and director of Kids Kicking Cancer, Columbia University treasurer Gail Hoffman, Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman, MIT Physics professor Jeremy England, dubbed “The Next Darwin” by Forbes Magazine, Madison Square Garden general counsel, secretary and executive vice president Lawrence Burian and former United States ambassador to Czechoslovakia Norman Eisen.

CNN Hero Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, founder and director of Kids Kicking CancerCNN Hero Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, founder and director of Kids Kicking Cancer
Gail Hoffman,  Columbia University treasurerGail Hoffman,  Columbia University treasurer
Lawrence Burian, general counsel, secretary, and executive vice president for The Madison Square Garden CompanyLawrence Burian, general counsel, secretary, and executive vice president for The Madison Square Garden Company
Gregory Zukerman, award winning Wall Street Journal reporterGregory Zukerman, award winning Wall Street Journal reporter
Moshe Wolfson, speaking about Jewish in the City's Project MakomMoshe Wolfson, speaking about Jewish in the City’s Project Makom
Allison Josephs, founder and director of Jew in the CityAllison Josephs, founder and director of Jew in the City
Norm Eisen, former United States ambassador to CzechoslovakiaNorm Eisen, former United States ambassador to Czechoslovakia
Shea Rubenstein of the JCC of Marine Park at Jew in the City receptionShea Rubenstein of the JCC of Marine Park at Jew in the City reception
Memorial tribute to Sharsheret founder Rochelle Shortez, 2012 Jew in the City All StarMemorial tribute to Sharsheret founder Rochelle Shortez, 2012 Jew in the City All Star

 


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Read Comments (23)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 04, 2016 at 11:18 AM elyeh Says:

Kiddush H'shem

2

 Apr 04, 2016 at 11:33 AM anonymous Says:

Interesting they only found 10 to be honored to balance professional success with Torah lifestyle when there are literally hundreds or even thousands who surely deserve the same reward.

3

 Apr 04, 2016 at 11:54 AM inNY Says:

Reply to #2  
anonymous Says:

Interesting they only found 10 to be honored to balance professional success with Torah lifestyle when there are literally hundreds or even thousands who surely deserve the same reward.

Every year they pick 10 out of the thousands.

4

 Apr 04, 2016 at 12:36 PM Laughing Says:

Just amazing to pick only 10 when you have thousands upon thousands of frum Jewish people running huge successful business, just take BH photo.. closed on shabas/yom tov to name one. I guess those are "chasidics"... good luck Stupid

5

 Apr 04, 2016 at 12:41 PM inNY Says:

Reply to #4  
Laughing Says:

Just amazing to pick only 10 when you have thousands upon thousands of frum Jewish people running huge successful business, just take BH photo.. closed on shabas/yom tov to name one. I guess those are "chasidics"... good luck Stupid

You shooting a statement out of your .... just so u can trash a great idea here..

BH and many chasidic firm owners, will never agree to be presented with a public ceremony award, many of them are not looking for publicity. this is just a simple fact. it's a pitty that they are like that.

6

 Apr 04, 2016 at 12:46 PM Jewish 99% Says:

Just remember that those of us who work long 12 hour days in Manhattan, barely making it home for shabbos and the megila yet only earn $75,000 deserve the same reward if not more. This is not exclusive for the rich

7

 Apr 04, 2016 at 01:09 PM MMNSY Says:

Reply to #5  
inNY Says:

You shooting a statement out of your .... just so u can trash a great idea here..

BH and many chasidic firm owners, will never agree to be presented with a public ceremony award, many of them are not looking for publicity. this is just a simple fact. it's a pitty that they are like that.

To #5 - I wont comment on the article, but I just want to say that its NOT a pity that a chasidic business owner would not want to participate in a mixed crowed partying with women wearing skirts above knees and sleeves above elbows. No, the average chasidic business owner wouldn't wanna participate. And kol hakoved. Dont pity them. And the owners of B&H would certainly not feel comfortable being there. Not saying this event was wrong, I am sure all participants are ehrlicha yidden but if someone doesn't feel comfortable going, dont pity them.

8

 Apr 04, 2016 at 01:14 PM favish Says:

Reply to #5  
inNY Says:

You shooting a statement out of your .... just so u can trash a great idea here..

BH and many chasidic firm owners, will never agree to be presented with a public ceremony award, many of them are not looking for publicity. this is just a simple fact. it's a pitty that they are like that.

5...besides other halachik problems, and major, that does not conform with ehrlicher ben torah

9

 Apr 04, 2016 at 01:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Laughing Says:

Just amazing to pick only 10 when you have thousands upon thousands of frum Jewish people running huge successful business, just take BH photo.. closed on shabas/yom tov to name one. I guess those are "chasidics"... good luck Stupid

You are some FABESIN character!!

10

 Apr 04, 2016 at 02:01 PM Anonymous Says:

I find it troubling that the owner of the triple crown winner runs his horses for money (ie millions in prize money and gambling) on Shabbat and attends the races , yet is considered orthodox.

11

 Apr 04, 2016 at 02:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
favish Says:

5...besides other halachik problems, and major, that does not conform with ehrlicher ben torah

Ha! How many hundreds and hundreds of photos have we seen of Chasidic Yidden getting all types of awards from all types of organizations, frequently by Non-Jewish women standing in the photo as well.

12

 Apr 04, 2016 at 02:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Ha! How many hundreds and hundreds of photos have we seen of Chasidic Yidden getting all types of awards from all types of organizations, frequently by Non-Jewish women standing in the photo as well.

Everybody has themselves to answer for,there are ehrlich and r"l non ehrlich on both ends of the spectrum. We forget that it's serving Hashem that binds us.

13

 Apr 04, 2016 at 12:59 PM radrad Says:

only MO people

14

 Apr 04, 2016 at 03:49 PM inNY Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Ha! How many hundreds and hundreds of photos have we seen of Chasidic Yidden getting all types of awards from all types of organizations, frequently by Non-Jewish women standing in the photo as well.

Bravo.. your right!

Many in the Ultra orthodox Jewish community from activists to machers from Williamsburg, BP, KJ, Monsey, who are looking for power and Kavod run always to all types of non kosher political events that are clearly mixed, and have half dressed women mingling with them..

This event is truly a fascinating Kosher and inspiring gathering, and I wish Alison much of success.

15

 Apr 04, 2016 at 03:43 PM yonasonw Says:

Oy...you Cretans feel a need to rise up to anything and everything...just chill.

16

 Apr 04, 2016 at 04:49 PM Laughing Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

You are some FABESIN character!!

Ok... is this you only response?

17

 Apr 04, 2016 at 04:53 PM It's great! Says:

I can think of a few other frum, even Chassidic, Jews who stand out for their contributions in the secular world - education, medicine, finance, business, politics (& I don't mean The Dov!) and whose frum lifestyle is on record. It must have been difficult to pick just 10 high profile personalities.

All you naysayers - try looking at the cup half full for a change. Honestly, you guys will argue over anything.

18

 Apr 04, 2016 at 05:23 PM favish Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Ha! How many hundreds and hundreds of photos have we seen of Chasidic Yidden getting all types of awards from all types of organizations, frequently by Non-Jewish women standing in the photo as well.

youll need alittel seichel to differenciate... although that's also not 100%. anyway, its not my own code of law...soi f your mocking take it up with the rii'bsho

19

 Apr 04, 2016 at 05:25 PM favish Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Everybody has themselves to answer for,there are ehrlich and r"l non ehrlich on both ends of the spectrum. We forget that it's serving Hashem that binds us.

'...and non ehrlich...serving hashem that binds us' huh?

20

 Apr 04, 2016 at 05:24 PM Anonymous Says:

I am don't get sure where chasidiasha business owners and entrepreneurs even get involved in this discussion. These rewards are designed for those that are very successful within the secular culture yet resist secularization. The owner of B&H doesn't mingle and interact on a daily basis with movie stars and producers. That doesn't mean he is not less of a tzadik. but this particular reward is desghned for those that have very secular jobs in nature. If you were to find a chasidisha CEO of a fortune 100 compnay then yes he belongs here as well.

21

 Apr 04, 2016 at 10:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Laughing Says:

Just amazing to pick only 10 when you have thousands upon thousands of frum Jewish people running huge successful business, just take BH photo.. closed on shabas/yom tov to name one. I guess those are "chasidics"... good luck Stupid

I challenge you to name another famous, multimillionaire chasidic business, besides B&H. Whenever a chasid wants to show how successful chasidim are (especially in terms of how they think that you don't need a good secular education to be successful), they always mention B&H but can't name another one.

22

 Apr 04, 2016 at 11:16 PM Anonymous Says:

I want an award for being a Jew too...
But kidding aside it's nice to give Chizuk, it's a big responsibility being a Frum Jew in Goyeshe business.

23

 Apr 05, 2016 at 10:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

I am don't get sure where chasidiasha business owners and entrepreneurs even get involved in this discussion. These rewards are designed for those that are very successful within the secular culture yet resist secularization. The owner of B&H doesn't mingle and interact on a daily basis with movie stars and producers. That doesn't mean he is not less of a tzadik. but this particular reward is desghned for those that have very secular jobs in nature. If you were to find a chasidisha CEO of a fortune 100 compnay then yes he belongs here as well.

Actually there WAS a chassdishe man from Brooklyn who now lives in Eretz Yisrael who was on the 2nd Annual Orthodox Jewish All Stars...and he came to the event from ISRAEL. He was voted Fortune 500 as one of the top entrepreneurs. So, as they say...HA!

24

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