Last night I had the opportunity to attend the 90th anniversary gala of the Edith & Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (JCH). In the midst of honorees and awards, I was reminded why I was so drawn to work with the center nearly four years ago.
While center alum Anton Gorshkov accepted the Community Leadership Award from the “J,” as it’s affectionately called, he quoted both astutely and with good humor a favorite Seinfeld episode. The “Worlds Theory,” as introduced on the show, left George Costanza frazzled and frightened that different versions of himself as they exist in separate worlds — “relationship George, independent George” — may collide if his social circles run too close, and ruin one another.
But to Anton the Worlds Theory is a happy prospect. He sees its existence in the JCH. “The “J” is a colossal world collider,” he told us. And that’s a good thing. Old and young members, the past and the future of the center, all intersect within the walls of the Bay Parkway building. It creates an environment of inclusivity, which benefits the JCH and the local Brooklyn community it serves.
I felt the center’s commitment to its core values when I took on the cause years ago, and I was reminded of its impact at the gala last night. I indeed saw worlds colliding: Phil Schatten, who received the Joseph and Arthur Press Humanitarian Award, has helped resettle 60,000 Russian-speaking Jews in his 25+ years serving the organization. Anton spoke to his introduction to the JCH as a teenage immigrant, where he found the support to grow into the successful executive and community leader he is today. And as the JCH awarded two teen scholar-athletes with the Glenn Markman MVP award, I witnessed the center’s commitment to inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.
The “J”’s story has always been there. There are nine decades-worth of that story, and there’s still much yet to be written. The privilege of attending the anniversary gala reaffirmed for me how meaningful that story is and the value in our role in helping tell it. Seeing the words that comprise the mission and values statements we helped create both in the event program and projected on the walls of the Tribeca Rooftop was among the highlights of the evening for me.
I believe everyone walked away from last night’s event with the understanding that the need for the JCH is as strong as ever. There are still worlds that need to collide.