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

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

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.

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 or call 305-576-4000.

Sheree Savar and Federation General
Campaign Chair Amy N. Dean

Elise Scheck Bonwitt, Raquel Scheck and
Norma Kipnis Wilson

Dorothy Podhurst, Maxine Schwartz and Adele Sandberg

Susan Caller, Dr. Penny Miller and Helene Berger

Jane Gold and Susan Jay

Marsha Bilzin and Nancy Gilbert

Daisy Adouth Gross and Rebecca Kravec

Laura Koffsky and Adrian Dubow

Hedy Whitebook and Regina Zelonker

Linda Weitz and Naomi Wilzig

Sharon Presby, Shelly Brodie and Jodi Orshan

Jessi Berrin, Fran Berrin and Debbie Siegel

Marlene Chavin, Sandy Lansing, Ellen Sprechman, Charlotte Brodie and Sharon Blumberg

Elaine Ross and Rosalie Altmark

Laura Kaplan, Linda Alexander and Elizabeth Brodie

Shana Lewinger Russo, Lisa Kudish Rosenburg and Debra Kudish

Amy Wildstein and Susan Kleinberg Ratner

Dr. Rebecca Karsenti, Michelle Ben-Aviv and Amanda Adler

Lois Siegel, Gloria Scharlin, Judy Bittel, Areta Kaufman and Joann Morrison

Clarita Kassin and Mytyl Simancas-Bister

Jill Nexon Berman, Barbara Shrut and Lenore Weinstein

The Clergy: Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz, Rabbi Jaime Aklepi, Cantor Lisa Segal, Cantor Shiree Kidron, Cantor Rachelle Nelson, Rabbi Julie Jacobs, Cantor Ronit Rubin, Rabbi Rachel Greengrass

Dr. Elizabeth Leight and Melissa Buckner

Brenda Nullman, Adrienne Pardo and Sara Moriber

Carrie, Bernice and Sarah Steinbaum

Journalist Gerri Helfman and Paula Abdul