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Hillel raises $415,111 at first annual dinner in new home
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Hillel raises $415,111 at first annual dinner in new home

The past, present, and future were remembered, acknowledged, and celebrated at the first annual dinner held in the new Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House at Rutgers University.

Outgoing student president Sami Brandspiegel of East Windsor and new president Paulee Manich of Pittsburgh kicked off the dinner, which raised $415,111, noting that in establishing their new headquarters, “We are laying down a bright future.” 

Former Israel Defense Forces chief cantor Lt. Shai Abramson and Sgt. Yossi Mark of its cantorial staff sang “Hatikvah,” and Kol Halayla, Rutgers Hillel’s a caPella choir, performed the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

After six years as board president, Roy Tanzman of Kendall Park announced he will accept a position as president of Hillel’s newly created board of governors, and turned over the reins to Richard Bullock of Edison. 

Because of the recent spate of threats to Jewish institutions, Lynne B Harrison of Verona said alarms and cameras were not enough to secure the new building against “resurgent anti-Semitism.” To bolster their efforts, she announced a new fund-raising drive to raise $750,000 to pay for security guards for the next five years, and set an example by making the first pledge in the amount of $50,000. 

Honored with the Rabbi Julius Funk Alumni Award was his son, Jonathan, who grew up in Highland Park, but now lives in San Francisco; Dr. David Gendelberg received the Young Alumni Award; and the Legacy Award went to Cecile and Edward Mosberg of Parsippany, who donated, with their family, a Holocaust Torah to Hillel.

Jonathan Funk, who graduated from Rutgers in 1979 and was active in Hillel. He spearheaded the campaign to create the Rabbi Julius and Pearl Funk Legacy Gallery in the building’s lobby honoring his late parents. Rabbi Funk served as founding rabbi of Hillel from 1943 tp 1982.

Gendelberg, who graduated in 2007 summa cum laude with a degree in biomedical engineering, called Hillel, “A home away from home,” which he credits for helping “shape my college years as well as my life.”

Gendelberg attended Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and is completing an orthopedic surgery residency at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In August, he will begin a one-year fellowship in spinal surgery at Harborview University of Washington Medical Center.

Edward Mosberg, who was also the keynote speaker, gave a tearful and impassioned account of the loss of his entire family and brutality inflicted on him, his wife, and other family members by the Nazis. 

“I will never forgive and I will never forget,” he declared as he held up bricks from the crematorium at Auschwitz, a whip used to beat prisoners, a brush in which prisoners hid items inside the wooden handle, and utensils.

Then a Torah, escorted by members of the Mosberg family, was brought in beneath a white chuppah. It survived the Holocaust in Poland and is one of many Holocaust Torahs over the last 20 years Mosberg has renovated and donated to synagogues and schools throughout the United States and Israel.

Mosberg credited Harry and Joseph Wilf, fellow Polish Holocaust survivor and founders of Garden Homes, a Short Hills-based real estate development company that is now one of the largest of its kind in the country, with his success, enabling him to support many Holocaust causes. He said he was dedicating the Torah to their memory, as well as to the six million murdered in the Shoa.

“Fifty-eight years ago, I got a call from Harry Wilf asking me to work for him,” said Mosberg, a former real estate developer. “As long as I live I will never forget Harry and Joe.”      

Students honored as rising stars were Arielle Kafker, Metuchen, a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences honors program majoring in political science and minoring in Arabic, French, and international and global studies; Benjamin Kern, Mahwah, a junior majoring in business management and Jewish studies; Gabrielle Kleyner, Pacifica, Calif., a junior majoring in genetics and minoring in history; Elliot Linder, Teaneck, a senior majoring in information technology and informatics and minoring in computer science; and Jaclyn Platt, Vorhees, a  junior in the nursing honors program.

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