American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro
On a stunning Miami evening at the Bal Harbour estate of Orly and Shlomy Alexander, the major donors of the American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro were honored at a bayside cocktail reception and dinner. Among those in attendance were founding members Jules and Stephanie Trump, major donor chairs Irma and Norman Braman, Lin Arison, Greater Miami Jewish Federation president and CEO Jacob Solomon and founding executive director Naomi Stuchiner.
SocialMiami was granted access to this intimate gathering to learn why these Miami heavyweights support the Israeli-based Beit Issie Shapiro and how it has evolved over the past 30 years into an internationally renowned research facility and treatment center for disabled children.
“It’s an organization that has a worldwide reputation of dealing with children with special needs and providing a quality of life for those children who would not receive what Beit Issie has provided,” said Norman Braman, who gave a heartfelt dedication for Beit Issie. “It’s a school that specializes in dealing with children born with disabilities. They’ve revolutionized the care for these children. When you see the families, and how they interact with Beit Issie, and the quality of life that is provided to these children – it’s the most moving thing that you can see.”
Beit Issie Shapiro is an organization that serves all children regardless of religious affiliations, and its orgins have roots here in Miami, too. South African born Issie Shapiro was the uncle of South Florida real estate developer Jules Trump who – together with Trump’s parents Willie and Celia, wife Stephanie and Shapiro’s daughter Naomi Stuchiner – founded Beit Issie Shapiro following Shapiro’s sudden passing during a fundraising mission in the United States.
“My uncle was very active in South Africa with Homes for the Handicapped,” explained Trump, “and when he made it over to Israel, he realized how inadequate the facilities were and asked us to help build a new facility. He came to the United States and we started an organization, met with a few people, started to do a little fundraising, and unfortunately, on a flight to Los Angeles, he had a terrible heart attack and passed away. Together with his daughter, Naomi Stuchiner, we decided to start the home with 16 kids. Today, in one way or another, Beit Issie serves over 20,000 children a year. The biggest focus is assisting the families. Our goal is to aid these families to make life a lot easier. It’s really become a major force in Israel and does a tremendous amount of good.”
According to Braman, there is no facility like Beit Issie in the United States. When asked why, he simply said: “There is no Naomi Stuchiner.”
Stuchiner is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience in the development of community services for a variety of populations. On behalf of Beit Issie Shapiro, she travels the world extensively to raise funds and build awareness for the organization that lives in her father’s name. Under her leadership, it has become a powerful force for the advancement of social change in Israel in the area of developmental disabilities and Stuchiner has been recognized numerous times for her achievements in social work.
“She’s a passionate woman who has created an organization that will survive after she is gone,” said Braman. “It’s a wonderful legacy.”
The Florida office for Beit Issie Shapiro is located at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC. To get involved, contact call 305-933-0774, or email Florida@afobis.org.
Aaron Glickman is a writer, actor and filmmaker. Through his contributions to SocialMiami, he has had opportunities to document many fascinating people and organizations in the fields of philanthropy, the arts, fashion, design and real estate including Carolina Herrera, James Rosenquist, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Russell Simmons, Nicole Miller, Christian Louboutin, Lin Arison and many more. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Miami Theater Center (MTC) and is on the Executive Committee of the National YoungArts Foundation.