Rothsteins, Toby Sanchez, Cantor Levine Honored at EMJC's 83rd Journal Dinner
Capping off a year that has seen national and state recognition bestowed upon the East Midwood Jewish Center for its contribution to Jewish culture and history, and the commencement of a rehabilitation and restoration program of unprecedented proportions, the Center's 83rd annual Journal Dinner on June 3, 2007 will honor persons who epitomize the Center's enduring strength - Phyllis and Joe Rothstein, Toby Sanchez, and Cantor Sam Levine.
It would be impossible to speak of the Center's history without including Phyllis and Joe Rothstein. The Rothsteins have been members of the East Midwood Jewish Center for over 50 years, and have been actively involved in almost every facet of synagogue life. A retired science teacher, Joe has served as a trustee for many years and been chair or co-chair to several important committees and programs. His resume includes service on the Adult Education, Talmud Torah, Youth Activities, Membership, and Ritual Committees, and Israel Bonds, U.J.A., and Seminary Breakfasts.
Phyllis' accomplishments include her current work as a Specialized Reading teacher at Magen David Yeshiva, several years as a teacher in the East Midwood Hebrew Day School, service on the Adult Education, Membership, and Talmud Torah Committees, and membership in Sisterhood, Tamar Hadassah, and the National Council of Jewish Women. She and Joe were at the forefront of EMJC's evolution to egalitarian worship, and leaders in the Center's ongoing outreach to the Russian Jewish community.
The Rothsteins have been married for 59 years and are the proud parents of Ed, Ellen, and Marcia and grandparents of Dena, Aaron, Anna, Alexandra, and Chris. All of their children, and three of their grandchildren are graduates of the East Midwood Hebrew Day School.
Honoring the Rothsteins in the year the Center received its historic designation is not only logical, it is the least we can do to thank them, for it is very unlikely that historic recognition would ever have come to EMJC but for the work of this couple, and Joe in particular. It was Joe Rothstein, almost nine years ago, who presented the idea of seeking historic recognition to the Board of Trustees, and it was his dogged – sometimes solitary – pursuit of that prize, through years of meetings, telephone calls, and letters to government agencies and elected officials, that set the stage for the East Midwood Jewish Center's designation as an official part of the nation's history.
Maintaining eyes on the prize and prying open the door would never have brought state and national recognition to EMJC. Convincing the appropriate government agencies of the merit of our cause demanded an individual with outstanding research and presentation skills. For those critical elements, the Center turned to Toby Sanchez.
Toby is a professional fundraising and board development consultant with more than three decades of service to nonprofit groups in New York City. Her multi-part argument asserting the Center's historic significance considered its unique architecture, mode of service, location in Brooklyn, and role in the evolution of the American Jewish community. Her attention to fact and detail, and thoroughness of her research have earned her the title of East Midwood Jewish Center Historian.
Ms. Sanchez has been a member of the East Midwood Jewish Center for 17 years. She serves on the Center's Board of Trustees and is a leader of the Interfaith Committee of EMJC and Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church. She and her husband Ramon have been married 52 years and are the parents of Rachel and Joseph, and grandparents of Kody, Ariel, Sean, and Sonia.
Our place in history assured, we look to the future with great enthusiasm, and nothing makes us more eager to see that future unfold than Cantor Sam Levine.
It seems hard to believe that Cantor Levine has only been our Cantor since 2004. His energy, creativity, and enthusiasm has generated an extraordinary list of accomplishments. He is our shaliah tzibur and a ba'al koreh. He has introduced new melodies into our liturgy and encouraged and increased congregational participation in tefilah. Cantor Levine is the leader of our Adult Education program and has taught a number of classes himself. He created an adult chorus and a children's choir, organized and performed at concerts, contributed articles to the Bulletin, led informal discussion groups on topics of Jewish interest, serves as a teacher and mentor for b'nei mitzvah, and is an active participant on the Special Events Committee.
The East Midwood Jewish Center is a more vibrant and exciting congregation today thanks to Cantor Sam Levine. It is a joy, a privilege, and a blessing to have him, his wife Courtney, and son Micah in our family.