Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame 2018

“BJHI was created to tell the extraordinary story of the Jewish community of Brooklyn, so the world would know’ said Howard Teich, BJHI Founder and Co-chair, “and the BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame will recognize the leading Brooklynites who have truly made a difference in the world, and there are many.”

“We wanted to be sure that the first class had a representative balance,” said Sarina Roffé, BJHI Co-chair.   “So we have someone from the Russian community, the Syrian community, etc., as well as business leaders, social activists and entertainers.”

Abraham Becker
Abraham "Abe" Becker
Cecelia Margules
Cecelia Margules
Judge Rachel Freier
Judge Rachel Freier
Ferne Pearlstein
Ferne Pearlstein
David Greenfield
David Greenfield
Eleanor Reissa
Eleanor Reissa
Henry Gutman
Henry Gutman
Adam Richman
Adam Richman
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Mimi Sheraton
Mimi Sheraton

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Inductees

Abraham Becker

Abraham "Abe" Becker

A guard and forward, Becker was all city basketball player when he attended Lincoln HS. He also was an exceptional player for New York University in the late 1940s and early 1950s, becoming captain of the 1950-51 team. Abe is a member of the NYU Athletics Hall of Fame. Becker played three seasons for the NYU basketball team and was one of their top scorers during his career. Although the squad struggled during Becker's junior season, they returned to form in 1951. Read More

A senior that year, Abe was team captain and led the Violets in scoring with 278 points in 16 games; his 17.4 points per game average set a school record. Named Converse All-America honorable mention and first team All-Metropolitan, Becker led NYU to a 13-4 record. Following the 1951 season, Becker played in the College All-Star East-West game. Today he is a successful certified public accountant.
Judge Rachel Freier

Judge Rachel Freier

Rachel Freier, known as Ruchie by her friends and family, was elected as Civil Court Judge in November 2016 and is currently assigned to Kings County Criminal Court. Prior to becoming a judge, she maintained law offices in Borough Park and Monroe, N. Y. licensed to practice in NY, NJ and Washington DC. Rachel attended Bais Yaakov from elementary school through seminary. Her teachers, many of whom were students of Sara Read More

Schneirer impressed upon her that each person is created with a Tzelem Elokim, in the image of G-D with incredible potential, which inspired her to reach great heights in public service. After graduating Bais Yaakov, Rachel worked as a legal secretary and then worked her way up to paralegal while supporting her husband, Tzi David Freier, who studied the Talmud in Kollel during the first ten years of her marriage. Subsequently, Rachel attended Touro College, where she majored in Political Science and directed the Women’s Pre-Law Society. After graduating Touro College with honors, she attended Brooklyn Law School part time so that she would have time to study law while raising her six children. She was recently honored as one of Brooklyn Law School’s Trailblazers for being the first Chassidic woman to be elected to public office. After graduating law school, Rachel founded Chasdei Devorah, Inc. a non profit charity, in memory of her friend who passed away at a young age. Thereafter she formed B’Derech, a grassroots non profit organization advocating for education and opportunity for adolescents in the Chassidic community. When a group of Chassidic female Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in Borough Park Asked Rachel to assist them in their desire to serve other women during emergencies, her offer to help them mushroomed into directing a global grassroots all women’s volunteer agency known as Ezras Nashim. In order to be a more effective leader, she became an EMT. Thereafter she attended CLI at North Shore LIJ n/k/a Northwell Health for her paramedic training. Rachel is a proud, devoted mother and grandmother of a Chassidic Family. She is dedicated to her Chassidic community specifically and reaches out to the general Jewish community.
David G. Greenfield

David G. Greenfield

David G. Greenfield is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Met Council. He is an accomplished legislator, popular law professor and noted media personality with broad experience in government and not-for-profit organizations. As CEO and Executive Director, David ensures that Met Council fulfills its mission to aid, sustain and empower poor and near-poor New Yorkers. In his eight years in the City Council, David authored nearly 30 pieces of legislation that were signed into law by Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio. Read More

David passed historic legislation mandating affordable housing, reforming the landmarks preservation process, and providing free security guards for over 100,000 private school children. Prior to serving on the City Council, David was Executive Vice President of the Sephardic Community Federation, working closely with public officials at every level of government to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. He was also the founding Director and Counsel of TEACH NYS, advocating on behalf of parents of New York State’s 500,000 Catholic, Jewish and independent school-children. His work led to legislation providing for $600 million in tax credits to parents of all school-age children. David is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. and Touro College in New York City, where he graduated summa cum laude and was valedictorian. Greenfield is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School. He is a proud lifelong resident of Brooklyn, where he happily lives with his wife
Henry Gutman

Henry Gutman

Hank Gutman has been deeply involved in the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park since his appointment to the original Brooklyn Bridge Park Local Development Corporation board in 1998. He has been a Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Board member and currently serves on the Board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. A resident of Brooklyn Heights since 1975, Mr. Gutman and his wife Karoly have raised their three children in the community. The Gutmans are long-time members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. During his 40-year legal career, Mr. Gutman litigated a wide range of high-profile intellectual property cases, including Lotus v. Borland (which he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court). Read More

Until his recent retirement, he was a partner at Simpson Thacher, where he headed the Intellectual Property Practice Group. Mr. Gutman is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, where he chaired the Complex Litigation Committee and served as Editor-in-Chief of “Anatomy of a Patent Case” (published jointly with the Federal Judicial Center). He has been a frequent lecturer on intellectual property issues and was appointed a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he taught a copyright course. Today, Mr. Gutman serves as the Chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, working with a talented management team in transforming one of America’s most historic naval facilities into the City’s largest industrial park, creating thousands of quality manufacturing jobs for those who need them most. He is also a Trustee of the Brooklyn Public Library, where he chairs the Digital Innovation Committee, and a member of the board of St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Rabbi Alvin Kass

Rabbi Alvin Kass

Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Alvin Kass was the spiritual leader of East Midwood Jewish Center for 36 years until his retirement in 2014. He is a former head of the New York Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Kass has been a chaplain for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) since 1966 and is the longest serving chaplain in department history. In 2002 he was promoted to Chief Chaplain. Read More

Rabbi Kass is the first to become a three-star chaplain and is only the third Jewish chaplain. He has served seven mayors and 16 police commissioners and was on-call during 9-11. He teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and lectures at Temple Emanuel’s Skirball Center. He is the author of Politics in New York State, 1800-1830 (Syracuse University Press, 1965). Rabbi Kass earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in History from Columbia University, and a B.H.L. and M.H.L. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also received rabbinical training. He earned a Ph.D in History and Philosophical Foundations of Education from New York University. Besides graduating Summa Cum Laude and being the Class Salutatorian of his undergraduate class at Columbia, he was also a Quackenbush Foundation Scholar and a Harry J. Carman and National Woodrow Wilson Fellow.
Cecelia Margules

Cecelia Magules

Cecelia Magules is a musician, songwriter, lyricist, producer, and freelance writer, She who has devoted her life to using art as a vehicle for sharing her passions with the world. She has worked with virtually every major contemporary artist in the Jewish music industry, including Gad Elbaz, Lipa Schmeltzer, C. Lanzbom, Yankee Lemmer and Dudu Fisher. Born to survivors of the Holocaust, and the great grandchild of Rabbi Reines, founder of the Mizrachi movement...Read More

both which had a major impact on her life, and connection to her heritage, her people and Israel. Her parents taught her to remember the Shoah but also showed great strength, resilience and hope. Wanting to bring music back into their lives, she expressed herself artistically through poetry, prose and music on a compendium of subjects that ignited her soul. Her compositions include the album “Harmony,” “New Sinai Sound,” “Pollard,” and “Believe in a Miracle.” Her song “Jubilee” celebrated Israel’s first 50 years, won first prize in A.Z.M. competition. Her writing focuses on the Holocaust. Cecelia has released dozens of meaningful videos and films, that highlight survivors with uplifting stories of hope, renewal and life, inspiring our Jewish pride, while remembering the tragedy. Indeed, that is Cecelia’s message. A lifetime member of Emunah, Cecelia serves as co-chairman of the Jossi Berger Holocaust Center, a teaching center established in Jerusalem. While honoring the past, it is upon us to realize the depth, meaning, and yes, the joy of our amazing Jewish heritage.
Ferne Pearlstein

Ferne Pearlstein

Ferne Pearlstein

A resident of Gowanus, Ferne Pearlstein is a prize-winning cinematographer, a feature film editor and a writer/director whose work has won numerous awards and been screened and broadcast around the world. In 2003 Pearlstein‘s feature documentary “Sumo East and West” — which she directed, produced, photographed and edited — premiered at the Tribeca, Los Angeles and Melbourne International Film Festivals, and was shown nationwide on PBS’s “Independent Lens” series and broadcast around the world. Read More

Her other director credits include “Dita and the Family Business” (PBS) with Josh Taylor, and three short films including her debut “Raising Nicholas,” which premiered at the 2003 Sundance and San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. (Press materials) In The Last Laugh, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Ferne Pearlstein interviews Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Rob Reiner, Robert Clary and more to try to find out when (if ever) humor crosses a line. Ferne won the Best Cinematography Prize for feature documentary at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival for her work on "Imelda." A graduate of both the International Center for Photography and the Stanford University MA Program in Documentary Film, Ferne is one of a handful of female cinematographers featured in Kodak's long-running "On Film" advertising campaign.
Eleanor Reissa

Eleanor Reissa

The Brooklyn-born daughter of Holocaust survivors, Eleanor Reissa is a Tony-nominated director, singer, international concert artist, award winning playwright and Broadway actor. Fluent in two languages, English and Yiddish, she has lived a life in the theatre for over 30 years, in nearly every entertainment medium and in many parts of the world. Her work is unique, honest, authentic, and reflects who she is. She appeals to a wide audience and has received critical recognition by the press as well as her peers. Read More

As a director she has shepherded new works including The Scutley Papers by Jamie Wax starring Sally Field, and musicals – from the Three Penny Opera to Cowgirls, to classics - at the Mint Theater in English and the Folksbiene in Yiddish. She coaches singers and actors, dramaturges new plays, and refreshes abandoned gems. She acts on and off Broadway, most recently in Dan Fishback’s the Material World, directed by Stephen Brackett, where she played a 100-year-old revolutionary. Her latest commission is the libretto for the opera, Taibele and Her Demon, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story, for the innovative Gothic Chamber Opera with composer Judd Greenstein, which Ms. Reissa is slated to direct. An anthology of her plays The Last Survivor and Other Modern Jewish Plays is being published. In music and theatre she has been on the forefront of keeping Yiddish alive and vibrating - from Tony Kushner’s invitation to read Where the Wild things Are in Yiddish at the star studded Celebration for Maurice Sendak, to revitalizing Yiddish theatre in NYC.
Adam Richman

Adam Richman

A Brooklyn native, Adam Richman was raised in Sheepshead Bay, and attended a Jewish day school, graduating from Midwood HS. He earned has BA from Emory University in International studies, and an MFA from Yale School of Drama. A self-educated food expert, his show Man v. Food (2008-2012) aired on the Travel Channel. Read More

Richman's acting career has included guest roles on Guiding Light, All My Children, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and he portrayed God as a butcher on Joan of Arcadia in 2004. In addition to appearing in regional theater productions throughout the United States, he was also seen in several national television commercials. Richman is the author of America the Edible: A Hungry History from Sea to Dining Sea (Rodale Publishing, 2010).
Mimi Sheraton

Mimi Sheraton

Born in Brooklyn, Mimi Sheraton is a pioneering food writer and former restaurant critic for Cue, the Village Voice, and the New York Times. Her writings on food and travel have appeared in Time, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, Vogue, Town & Country, New York magazine, and Food & Wine. She has written sixteen books, including The German Cookbook, that was reissued last year in a 50th anniversary edition and a memoir, Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life. Read More

Her book, The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup, won both the IACP and James Beard awards, and she won a James Beard journalism award for her article on the Four Seasons’ 40th anniversary in Vanity Fair. She was born in Brooklyn and is 70-years resident of Greenwich Village. Her latest book is 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die (2015).

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