Sid Jacobson JCC raises $1.4M at 23rd annual auction, gala for social services

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Sid Jacobson JCC raises $1.4M at 23rd annual auction, gala for social services
Guests enjoyed delicious food from more than 30 of Long Island’s finest restaurants, including Nisen Sushi. (Photo courtesy of Sid Jacobson JCC)

Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center’s “Eat. Bid. Laugh! An Auction & Epicurean Event” auction and gala fundraiser garnered $1.4 million last week during the event headlined by “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

The event, which is used to fund a host of social services provided by the East Hills center, was held Thursday at Fresh Meadow Country Club with more than 30 restaurants providing hors d’oeuvres before the dinner and entertainment with Noah.

Hundreds of guests excitedly bid on a wide range of prizes during Sid Jacobson JCC’s Eat. Bid. Laugh! An Auction & Epicurean Event on March 22 at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success. (Photo courtesy of Sid Jacobson JCC)

“One of our most important features tonight is Camp Kehilla, which is our camp for children with special needs,” Connie Wasserman, associate executive director of the JCC, said. “We serve children from all over Long Island of all socio-economic levels. This event raises money specifically for scholarships so that no child is ever turned away from Camp Kehilla.”

Camp Kehilla, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, gives children with special needs an exclusive summer camp.

Executive Director David Black said while the center’s Camp Jacobson offers spots for all children, he said some special needs children will thrive in the exclusive environment with a three-to-one camper to counselor ratio.

Black said about 60 percent of the campers are on scholarships and the annual auction helps fund those scholarships.

“My favorite part is seeing the whole community come together as one and really support what we are doing and what we are trying to bring to the community,” President Jodi Rosenthal said. “To see the amount of people to support our center and their center is what this is all about.”

Wasserman said the auction also helps fund the center’s young onset dementia program for those in their 30s, 40s or 50s with dementia. Wasserman, who started the program in January of 2005, said the program was one dear to her heart.

The center also offers a vocational training and employment center for those on the autism spectrum who have aged out of school.

“We provide them with internships within the JCC and out in the community, and our goal is to bring them to that next level of employment where we start working with them and their families to give them the tools to become employed,” Wasserman said. “Our goal is to help these young adults become as independent as they can be, recognizing that everyone is an individual and at different levels.”

Event committee chairman Lloyd Rosenman said the auction items, which were all donated for the event, ranged from a 16-day trip for two to Vietnam, a golf excursion to Old Sandwich Golf Club in Massachusetts on a private plane and tickets with backstage access to “Hamilton: An American Musical,” “Frozen” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

Rosenman, who also owns Tocolo Cantina, was one of more than 30 restaurants that donated food for the event.

“The heart of the JCC and the reason everybody comes out to this event is to assure that these vulnerable populations always remain front and center and always come first,” Black said. “These are our mothers, our fathers, our children, our grandparents, and we made a determination that this is the centerpiece of the JCC.”

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