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Brenda Korff
Fundraising Coordinator, Hadassah Nassau Executive Board

How Hadassah Nassau Raised Record Sum for Stem Cell Research in Israel

Grand Marshal Jim Rotenberg, Hadassah Nassau Walk-a-Thon / Hadassah Associate Chair, leading the Walk with his wife Carol Rotenberg, Hadassah National Major Gifts Chair.
Grand Marshal Jim Rotenberg, Hadassah Nassau Walk-a-Thon / Hadassah Associate Chair, leading the Walk with his wife Carol Rotenberg, Hadassah National Major Gifts Chair. Photo Credit: North Hempstead.
Bottom row seated: Ellen Hershkin, immediate past 26th National President of Hadassah; Rachel Rosen, Hadassah Nassau President; Rhoda Smolow, Hadassah 27th National President.
Standing: Tracey Drayer, National Grassroots Fundraising Chair; Cheryl Sperber, National Chair of Zionist Education; Viviane Kovacs, National Philanthropy Coordinator; Frieda Rosenberg, National Portfolio Council Officer. Photo Credit: North Hempstead.
Bottom row left to right: Brenda Korff, Fundraising Coordinator, Hadassah Nassau Executive Board; Roz Meyerson, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair, Linda Hillel, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair.
Top row left to right: Felicia Solomon, Director of Development, Metro NY; Roz Weitzen, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair; Lara Werwa, Managing Director; Hadassah Metro; Rachel Rosen, Hadassah Nassau President; Ellen Domnitch, Walk-a-Thon Founder; Doris Fins, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair; Georgene Winick, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair. Photo Credit: North Hempstead.
Honorees
Bottom row seated: Lynne Gordon, Steps to Hope Award Recipient; Rachel Rosen, Hadassah Nassau President; Sandy Rosen, Walk for a Cure Award Recipient.
Standing: Brenda Korff, Hadassah Nassau Fundraising Coordinator; Arnie Gordon, Steps to Hope Award Recipient; Jim Rotenberg, Grand Marshal / Walk Associates Chair; Susan Falkove, Ellen Domnitch Leadership Award Recipient; Roz Meyerson, Walk-a-Thon Co-Chair; Felicia Solomon, Director of Development, Metro NY. Photo Credit: North Hempstead.

Hadassah Nassau’s 16th Annual Walk-a-Thon for Stem Cell Research raised $375,000 with over 300 people in attendance at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn on Sunday, May 15th. The annual event helps raise awareness about the ground-breaking stem cell research at Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel.

Watch the video here:

As Fundraising Coordinator for the Hadassah Nassau Executive Board, it was a pleasure to see the fruits of our labor deliver such impressive results. I can’t believe it all came together to raise $375,000 –WOOHOO!!!! Not only did we raise awareness, but we raised a goal-breaking fundraising record for this event.

Hadassah Nassau President Rachel Rosen said, “I am feeling an unbelievable sense of pride when I look around and see all the generations – grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, all walking together for such a great cause.”

Hadassah’s National President Rhoda Smolow, wearing the white, red and blue walk tee shirt, rallied the crowd as Roz Meyerson, Walk Chair, introduced Senator Anna Kaplan and Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, who presented the honorees with Town Proclamations. The honorees, Sandy Rosen, Lynne and Arnie Gordon and Susan Falkove were all smiles surrounded by family and friends who came out to support them.

Grand Marshal Jim Rotenberg, Hadassah Associates Walk Chair, cut the blue and red ribbon to start the event, donning a top hat for the special occasion. Rotenberg was one of many Associates who participated in the walk. The Associates are men who are valued partners of Hadassah and have lent their support to the organization and the world-renowned medical care, research and education that goes on at the hospital. This year, Hadassah Associates are working to build awareness of diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the US, to help slow the march of this deadly disease.

Men, women and children from all over Nassau County came out to be a part of this signature event on a warm and beautiful spring morning. There was live music, bagels donated by Bagel Hut of Great Neck and Bagel Boss of Roslyn, as well as a variety of donuts and coffee available from The Vice Food Truck.

While walking around the beautiful grounds of the museum, everyone enjoyed the enormous sculptures which highlighted the landscape. But what was even more eye catching were the hundreds of signs adorned with donors’ names on them that represents the strength and commitment from the event’s participants.

Hadassah’s two world-class research hospitals in Jerusalem, Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, under the umbrella of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), have been visionaries in the field of stem cell research. HMO collaborates with other cutting-edge stem cell research hospitals worldwide to produce innovative medical research that then is shared throughout the world. HMO in Israel was among the first medical centers in the world to pursue stem cell research.

Stem cell and immunotherapy research at HMO hold the promise to treat and cure numerous devastating diseases which affect over 100 million Americans. These include ALS, MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune conditions, cancers, diabetes, joint and bone diseases, macular degeneration, strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and more.

Following the Walk’s morning activities, registrants and supporters joined a 7:00 p.m. Zoom Celebration highlighting Hadassah’s stem cell research and honoring Walk-A-Thon 2022 honorees, produced by North Shore Television. Talented Broadway actor Michael Bernardi guided participants through the evening of learning, creativity, inspiration and song.

Bernardi’s father, the late, Herschel Bernardi was an important Jewish Broadway and television star in his day and was well known as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof for many years on Broadway. Michael Bernardi joined the family business as a stand-up comic when he was 9 years old. Since then, he has been in movies such as “Marshall,” starring Josh Gadd and the late Chadwick Bozeman, and television shows such as “Monk,” starring Tony Shalub.

“But the proudest moment of my career was the first time I played the role of “Tevye” in the recent Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, and I was able to wear the same boots that my father had worn when he stomped up and down a Broadway stage in the same role,” says Bernardi.

He added, “When I was asked to participate in this event, it was a no brainer because Judaism has always been a fundamental part of my life, and I’m truly honored to continue my family’s legacy of support for the incredible work Hadassah brings to the world.”

He closed out the Zoom celebration with a live performance of “If I were a Rich Man” from Fiddler, with accompaniment by Hadassah family, Ron, Jacob and Chloe Leshnower.

Hadassah Nassau’s 16th Annual Walk-a-Thon for Stem Cell Research Honorees include:

Sandy Rosen, 2022 Walk for a Cure Award Sandy Rosen has been involved in Hadassah Nassau for over 50 years and is one of the region’s top fundraisers. She is part of a six-generation life member family, and she and her late husband, Walter, are Society of Major Donors.

 Lynn & Arnie Gordon, 2022 Steps to Hope Award
Lynne and Arnie Gordon epitomize leadership, thoughtfulness and generosity. Lynne has held key positions on Hadassah Nassau’s Executive Board and is currently Executive Vice President, while Arnie is the immediate past president of Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere.

Susan Falkove, Ellen Domnitch Leadership Award
Susan Falkove has been an active member of the Shaloma Chapter of Hadassah. She has been an integral part of making the chapter the force it is today, and she has inspired numerous Hadassah members along the way. Susan is an attorney and is on the Syosset Central School District Board of Education.

Ellen Domnitch, founder of the Walk-a-Thon, along with Rachel Rosen, Hadassah Nassau President, have played key roles in this year’s event. Domnitch says, “I’m still floating on a cloud with joy and excitement over the success of this year’s event. The hard work and dedication of Hadassah Nassau’s members is incredibly inspiring.”

Hadassah Nassau’s Walk-A-Thon committee of volunteers, led by chairs Doris Fins, Linda Hillel, Brenda Korff, Roz Meyerson, Roz Weitzen, and Georgene Winick, have been organizing for months to reach the fundraising goal.

The 16th Annual Walk-A-Thon Zoom Celebration also included Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff, the director of the Sidney and Judy Swartz Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center at The Goldyne Savad Institute at HMO and Dr. Eyal Banin, Head of Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration. Dr. Reubinoff is recognized globally as a leader in stem cell and immunotherapy research. Dr Banin is an expert in the field of cell therapy for degenerative diseases of the retina and the macula.

The doctors shared that until a decade ago, degenerative retinal and macular diseases were incurable. Since then, Banin and his colleagues are implementing gene therapy and have developed a treatment for age-related macular degeneration, using stem cell- based products.

Long-time Hadassah Nassau member Doris Fins and her son Albert shared their personal story about how stem cell therapy impacted their lives. Doris is grateful and says, “I would not be here speaking to you today without the life-saving stem cell therapy that I received to cure my leukemia. My son, Albert, gave me his own stem cells, and that is why I am standing here today.”

The Zoom celebration included informative and entertaining segments by Dr. Debra Wattenberg, board certified dermatologist and frequent healthcare contributor on Today, who was skillfully interviewed by Hadassah member Dorette Foreman on trends in the dermatology field.

The festivities also included a live cooking demonstration by award- winning chefs from Lola Restaurant in Great Neck, NY who created a delicious Israeli dish, Roasted Eggplant Baladi, alongside Hadassah Nassau members Tracey Drayer and Loulou Zonenshine. Amanda Ciniglio, the owner of The Hidden Gem Café in Melville, NY demonstrated, along with Susan Falkove and family, how to make the “perfect” charcuterie board for at-home entertaining.

Throughout the hour event, Michael Bernardi gave away exciting gifts to lucky winners before he ended the event with his outstanding singing performance.

To donate or for more information, go to www.tinyurl.com/HadassahStemCell2022 or call 516-766-2725.

ABOUT HADASSAH NASSAU:  Hadassah Nassau comprises 24 chapters as part of the NY Metro Region.

About the Author
Brenda Korff, a Hadassah Life Member and Founder, is the Fundraising Coordinator for the Hadassah Nassau Executive Board. Hadassah has connected Brenda to many other like-minded women throughout Nassau County, and it continues to provide her with a way to reach out to others who share her values and have a desire to help others, both in the US and in Israel. Brenda was selected to participate in a Young Women’s Mission to Poland and Israel. This was her first trip to both countries. She traveled with 23 other Hadassah women from across the country. Not only did the Young Women’s Mission help her create a spiritual connection to Israel, but it also gave her and the other participants the opportunity to experience first-hand the role Hadassah plays in Israeli life. Brenda is originally from Potomac, Maryland but has been living in Great Neck for 32 years with her husband, Michael. Together they have two children, Ricki, age 28 and Jennifer, age 24, both Life Members. She moved to Great Neck when she and Michael were newly married. She did not know anyone in town and was approached in the park to become a charter member of a “young group” of Hadassah women, now known as Kochavim. Since that day in the park years ago, Hadassah has been an integral part of Brenda’s life. Hadassah has connected Brenda to many other like- minded women throughout Nassau County, and it continues to provide her with a way to reach out to others who share her values and have a desire to help others, both in the US and in Israel. Brenda graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Marketing and Public Relations. She worked for AT&T before her children were born and has volunteered for Hadassah ever since! She loves to read, exercise, play canasta and spend time with her family and friends.
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