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Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative inducts 12 into its first Hall of Fame

Honorees Range from Theatre Veteran to Labor Activist

October 30, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The night’s emcees were actor and performer/producer Jake Ehrenreich and CNN correspondent Samuel Burke. Eagle photos by Francesca N. Tate
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It was a minyan plus more to spare.

Twelve notable Brooklynites and Brooklyn natives were inducted into the Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame on Tuesday night during a ceremony held at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Ranging from actors and singers to labor activists, the 12 comprise the debut class of inductees for this new tradition of the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative (BJHI).

“BJHI was created to tell the extraordinary story of the Jewish community of Brooklyn, so the world would know,” said Howard Teich, BJHI founder and co-chair. “The BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame will recognize the leading Brooklynites who have truly made a difference in the world, and there are many.”

Sarina Roffé, BJHI co-chair, explained, “We wanted to be sure that the first class had a representative balance. So we have someone from the Russian community, the Syrian community, etc., as well as business leaders, social activists and entertainers.”

Jake Ehrenreich, an actor and performer from Brownsville, who produces his one-man show “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn,” served as emcee. Joining him was CNN correspondent Samuel Burke. Several elected leaders, including Public Advocate Letitia James and City Councilmember David Greenfield, were on hand to present award plaques to the honorees. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams gave the opening remarks.

The inductees were saluted for their bonds to the borough and their extraordinary contributions to the Brooklyn Jewish community through their lives and vocations. A proud Brooklynite, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, was inducted via video. In his greeting, he stated that he had to stay in Washington, DC this week to work on behalf of his constituents.  His wife, Iris Weinshall, also a Class of 2015 inductee, accepted Schumer’s award on his behalf. Weinshall is vice chancellor at City University of New York (CUNY).

The Class of 2015 Inductees are singer and performer Julie Budd, who just released a CD paying tribute to Frank Sinatra; professor, author and commentator Alan Dershowitz; businessman and philanthropist Charles Diker; Yiddish theater and award-winning actor Fyvush Finkel; labor rights activist Henry Foner; former member of Congress and former Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, who is also an author; former Brooklyn Borough President and cheerleader Marty Markowitz, VP of Borough Tourism NYC & Co.; Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive director, NY Board of Rabbis and FDNY Chaplain; U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer; Joseph Shamie, co-president, Delta Enterprises; Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, national director, Russian American Jewish Experience; and Iris Weinshall, vice chancellor, CUNY and former NYC Department of Transportation commissioner.

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