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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Chabad of North Haven in the Hamptons held its annual Spring Gala at The Jewish Museum on Wednesday May 24, 2017 with a private tour of the Museum beginning at 5:30 PM. The whole night I kept trying to figure out where North Haven is and finally discovered it was Sag Harbor. This Hamptons synagogue opened in 2013 as a summer-only gathering spot, and recently became a year-round destination, with plans to develop a full-fledged community center. The buffet dinner began at 6:30 with delicious meat dishes that were extremely lavish.

This was an intimate and joyous evening where New York City residents were able to celebrate the summer Chabad with their leader Rabbi Berel Lerman. Lerman came to New Haven five years ago after being a shaliach serving in Russia, Australia and the Fiji Islands. The 30-year-old Lerman is on a mission to create an environment where all are welcome regardless of their level of observance. Tonight's emcee was TV correspondent Rita Cosby who is a Special Correspondent for Inside Edition and has received three Emmy Awards. Cosby released a bestselling memoir called "Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father's Past" documenting her father's past as a Polish Resistance Fighter who battled the Nazis during the Warsaw Uprising.

Rita might as well be Jewish as she is a staunch supporter of Israel and advocates for it at every opportunity possible. She was kind enough to give out free autographed books and is working on a book documenting newly found information dealing with her grandfather's heroism in hiding Jews during the Holocaust. Cosby is a highly intelligent woman whose kindness is matched by her beauty and enthusiasm making her a spectacular host by raising the excitement of the dinner. Even Ambassador Dani Dayan commented on the beautiful Cosby saying he regretted that he had only had the privilege of doing a radio interview without having met her in person.

This night, the 28th of Iyar, also marked fifty years since the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day war in 1967 and a short film was shown depicting the war and its consequential ramifications for the Jewish people. Cantor Horowitz then sang the beautiful Yerushalayim Shel Zahav song that riveted the audience. This is a Chabad that cares deeply for Israel instituting a Hampton Israel Forum in 2015, to combat the growing rise of anti Semitism and Israel bias.

The importance of the five Chabads that are sprinkled in Southampton, East Hampton, Water Mill, Westhampton and Sag Harbor cannot be underestimated- it gives secular and religious Jews the opportunity to enjoy spirituality during the summer months. The challenge lies in getting Hamptonites to leave their summer abodes on a beautiful Saturday morning to sit and pray in shul.

Some libations such as Scotch, vodka and bourbon served at the Kiddush might be a slight inducement; however, it is usually the warmth of the Chabad atmosphere that attracts the crowd.

Thankfully, the evening was a tremendous success raising $53,000 towards their $270,000 annual budget and attracting a group of illustrious honorees including Isaac Erlich, Denise Wohl and Bradley Fishel-a successful bunch of Manhattanites with Judaism on their mind. Isaac was born in Siberia following the German invasion, which killed most of his family and later emigrated to the US.

Erlich went from being a guidance counselor to a successful Brooklyn Real Estate developer in Park Slope and other areas. Erlich brought his 98-year-old mother, who is a Holocaust survivor, and grandchildren to the event and spoke of the importance of community.

Beautiful honoree Denise Wohl was given the Chesed Award for her commitment to philanthropy and spirituality. Wohl was led to delve deeper into her Judaism by friends Lori Shabtai and Nancy Chetrit, and currently lives in the Hamptons, New York and Israel contributing her time and money to all three of these communities.

Finally, handsome Bradley Fishel was given the Young Leadership Award. Fishel is an overachieving 27-year-old who is getting his Master's in Finance from NYU while being VP at Renaissance properties. He also received his Pilot's and Broker's license in the same summer. Bradley has movie star looks and a beautiful family who were kvelling all night long.

His mother and father, Maria and Kenneth, are well known patrons of the arts in the Hamptons and often hold charity events in their sprawling Bridgehampton property. Bradley thanked the community and his parents for support and held his young leadership award with pride. The conclusion of the awards ceremony was followed by a delicious dessert reception where Halvah and petit fours were served while attendees joyfully posed for pictures and fraternized with each other.

By: Lieba Nesis