Greater Miami Jewish Federation Celebrates Extraordinary Women at Special Event

Women’s Event Chair Amy Berger Chafetz, Women’s
Philanthropy Campaign Chair Sheree Savar, Lion of Judah
Breakfast Chair Lezlie Poyastro, Paula Abdul and
Women’s Philanthropy President Elise Scheck Bonwitt

Nearly 1,000 women from across Miami’s Jewish community joined Women’s Philanthropy of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation for a day of inspiration and empowerment on Tuesday, January 13 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.

The morning began with a special Lion of Judah Breakfast chaired by Lezlie Poyastro, which honored and celebrated the Lions of the community. Highlights of the morning included a moving keynote address by Baptist minister Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman who spoke of her unwavering support for the State of Israel and her profound concern for Israel’s security and existence.

The groundbreaking Lion of Judah philanthropy program was founded more than 40 years ago in Miami by Norma Kipnis Wilson and Toby Friedland, of blessed memory, and now comprises 17,500 women worldwide who generously support their local Federation/UJA Campaign as a statement of their dedication to the Jewish community. Raquel Scheck, a past Women’s Philanthropy President and a long-time Jewish community leader, also was recognized with Miami’s 2014 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award.

Elise Scheck Bonwitt, Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman,
Sheree Savar, Amy Berger Chafetz and Lezlie Poyastro

Continuing the daylong celebration, The Women’s Event luncheon, chaired by Amy Berger Chafetz, proudly acknowledged the dedication of all women who have committed their resources to care for those in need, support vital programs and strengthen Jewish life in Miami, in Israel and in more than 70 other countries around the world. Headlining The Women’s Event was groundbreaking choreographer, dancer, songwriter, performer, designer, actress and businesswoman Paula Abdul, who is most recently known for her time as a judge on the hit TV series “American Idol”. Interviewed by award-winning journalist Gerri Helfman, Abdul spoke about her Jewish story and what it was like to be raised by a Syrian Jewish father and a Canadian Jewish mother in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Last year, Paula celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in a ceremony in the city of Tzfat, Israel. She traveled throughout the country, and described the experience as “the most magnificent trip I’ve ever taken…magical and emotional.”

Attendees also donated breakfast items that were delivered to the JCS Kosher Food Bank to help provide for families in need. The JCS Kosher Food Bank is operated by Jewish Community Services of South Florida, a local partner agency of Federation.

The Women’s Event Committee included Amanda Adler, Rosalie Altmark, Rosie Bild, Vanessa Jacobson, Ana-Karina Politano and Ori Serfati with Women’s Philanthropy President Elise Scheck Bonwitt and Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Chair Sheree Savar.

Federation gratefully acknowledges its 2015 Proud Business Partners for their generous support of The Women’s Event and the Lion of Judah Breakfast program. Platinum Sponsors were: Bilzin Sumberg Attorneys at Law, The Collection, Greenberg Traurig and Wells Fargo. Gold Sponsors were: Akerman LLP, City National Bank, Crystal & Company, Kent Security Services and Sapoznik Insurance. Silver Sponsor was: Meland Russin & Budwick, P.A.

For more information about the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, please visit JewishMiami.org or call 305-576-4000.