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2016-03-25 digital edition

TODAY in the Jewish World:

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


March 25, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

JNF’s annual Tree of Life dinner, ‘Mission Possible,’ to honor seven

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) will honor Jeanie and David Abelson, Diane and Leon Mezrah, and Richard Rappaport with JNF’s prestigious Tree of Life™ Award at its annual dinner.

The event, at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay on Thursday, April 14 at 6 p.m., will also honor Elaine and Hinks Shimberg with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“As we approach the JNF Tree of Life Dinner, we are excited about our theme this year, ‘Mission Possible: Building the Next JNF Generation,’ and we are thrilled to honor this particular group of philanthropic and active members of our community,” said Shari Mezrah and David Pearlman the 2016 Tree of Life™ Award Dinner co-chairs. “These individuals have gone above and beyond to ensure the continued success of the Jewish People from one generation to the next.”

The Tree of Life™ Award is a humanitarian award given in recognition of outstanding community involvement, dedication to the cause of American-Israeli friendship, and devotion to the peace and security of human life.

“The Tampa Bay honorees are outstanding philanthropic pillars of our community,” said Mary Ellen Hogan, co-president of the Tampa Bay JNF board. “In their countless leadership positions over many decades, they have walked the walk of tikkun olam. The difference they have made in Tampa Bay and beyond has shown two generations how to lead and how to give back. We salute them for their role in building and sustaining our Jewish community, as well as for their unwavering support of Israel.”

Added Co-president Ida Raye Chernin, “Each, in their own right, has championed the cause of JNF and has been proactive in securing and maintaining a strong Israel.”

The honorees

Honorees Jeanie and David Abelson of Oldsmar have been actively involved in leadership roles in the Jewish community since moving to Tampa Bay area in 1989. David is a past chairman of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, the Golda Meir Kent Jewish Center and is currently on the executive board of Temple Ahavat Shalom. Jeanie is a past chair of the Jewish Federation’s Lions division as well as the Temple Ahavat Shalom Sisterhood, and has served on her temple’s executive board.

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Since their marriage almost 54 years ago, honorees Diane and Leon Mezrah have called Tampa home. The Mezrahs have been active members of Rodeph Sholom synagogue, have embraced many Jewish activities, and are affiliated with several organizations. They are excited to be part of the new Bryan Glazer Family JCC and the family looks forward to its opening. They, along with their children and grandchildren, recently donated $1 million for an aquatics center to be built at the JCC. It will be named the Diane and Leon Mezrah Family Aquatic Complex.

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A committed Zionist, honoree Richard Marc Rappaport of Tampa recently traveled to Israel on JNF’s “$1 Billion Roadmap Mission” with the Task Force on Disabilities, and will be participating later this year in the Israel Bike Ride, a five-day event that covers the length of the country and benefits JNF and other organizations in Israel. He is the president of Panther Medical, a national medical device distributor. His daughter Dayna inherited his commitment to Israel, serving as member of JNF’s Sapphire Society and sits on the San Francisco JNF board.

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The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed on exceptional and senior community leaders who are a symbol of Jewish and non- Jewish philanthropy and tzedakah through giving back to their community.

Lifetime Achievement Award honorees Hinks and Elaine Shimberg have been married 54 years and have been blessed with five children and 10 grandchildren. Hinks Shimberg has served as chairman of numerous theater, educational, athletic, and civic organizations, and was vice-chairman and treasurer of Congregation Schaarai Zedek. He was Civitan’s “Citizen of the Year,” and he and his wife both received USF’s honorary “Doctor of Humane Letters” degree and “Philanthropists of the Year” award. Elaine Shimberg has chaired the St. Joseph’s Hospital Board and Foundation, was vice president of Schaarai Zedek’s Sisterhood, and has authored 24 books, including Growing Up Jewish in Small Town America.

Tickets and sponsorships to the the Tampa Bay Tree of Life™ Award Dinner Endowed by Harvey Hertz can be purchased online at more information, contact Beth Morris at (727) 536-5263 or

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