“We Must Stand Together” is Message of Chai Lifeline Dinner
More than 1,100 men and women crowded into the Grand Hyatt Hotel earlier this month to show their support for Chai Lifeline, the organization that has brought joy and hope to families of children with life-threatening illnesses and serious chronic conditions for more than twenty years, and celebrate the achievements of community leaders who have made Chai Lifeline a priority in their philanthropic giving.
The evening began with an emotional introduction to the Ariella Horenstein Music in Our Lives program. Dedicated by her parents, Avrom and Deborah Horenstein, in memory of their daughter, Ariella, z’l, the program will bring give Chai Lifeline’s children greater opportunities for expressing themselves through music. Jonathan and Leora Kukin received the Chai Heritage Award. The Kukins, who dedicated the Yaakov Nussbaum Photography Center at Camp Simcha, in memory of Leora’s father, are long-time supporters of the organization. “Jonathan and Leora are part of a rich heritage of communal service, one that stretches back past their parents and will move forward with their children,” said Levi Katlowitz, director of community development.
The Keter Shem Tov Award was given to Shlomie and Debbie Ross, who saw Chai Lifeline from the unique vantage point of parents when their son, Dani, was diagnosed with cancer.
“When Dani was diagnosed, Chai Lifeline was at their side,” said Samuel Zaks, executive director, development. “Now Debbie and Shlomie are at our side, educating others and advocating for Chai Lifeline.”
The organization’s tribute to the Ross’ was underscored by Dani’s moving address. “I couldn’t have gotten through (cancer) without Chai Lifeline and my family,” he stated.
Like many people, Nelson Braff was introduced to Chai Lifeline through Camp Simcha. But when he saw the impact that camp has on sick children, he knew he wanted to remain involved. He and his wife, Stacey, received the Community Service Award for their ongoing work for Chai Lifeline. The room erupted in applause when the names of Ari Dembitzer and Rivky Schwartz, co-head counselors at Camp Simcha, named in memory of Dr. Samuel Abraham, and Camp Simcha Special, dedicated in memory of Zvi Dovid Obstfeld, were announced. The two received the Camp Simcha Appreciation Award.
Ari Dembitzer and Rivky Schwartz set the tone for camp, working 24/7 all year long to give our campers the love, guidance, confidence, and determination to keep fighting,” Zaks said.
The height of the evening came during an emotional address by Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline. He implored the organization’s friends and supporters to make sure that economic uncertainty does not have a double impact on seriously ill children and their families.
“This is not an easy time,” he told the rapt audience. “Within this room, and outside as well, there are people who can help assure that our families have the support they need to face each day with optimism. Together, we can see this through.”