Tributes for Schoenbaums support for Israel mega-project


12 December 2008 Tributes for Schoenbaums support for Israel mega-project The leading lights of Atlantas Jewish community came together this week to honour the Schoenbaum family for their outstanding generosity in supporting World ORTs mega-project in Kiryat Yam, Israel. Through the Schoenbaum Family Foundation, the family has invested $5 million in the regeneration of the seaside citys centre into a glittering and practical communal resource. The Atlanta Region of ORT America brought together some 140 people at the citys Pemberly Estate to pay tribute to Raymond Schoenbaum, who is president of the Schoenbaum Family Foundation, and his wife Susan both Atlanta residents and philanthropists. ORT Americas Atlanta Region presented the family with the first Joan L. and Nathan I. Lipson Award for their long-standing commitment to Israel and ORT programmes around the world. The warmth of the event was compounded by the very unique circumstances of the award and its recipients, said Event Chair Kathy Sachs. The prestigious Joan L. and Nathan I. Lipson Award was bestowed upon the Lipsons longtime friends, the Schoenbaum family. This emotional connection impacted the success of the evening. Betty Schoenbaum, the heiress to the Shoneys restaurant and motel chain, credits her four children Raymond, Emily and Jeffry Schoenbaum and Joan Miller for encouraging her to support the mega-project which will, together with funds from World ORT, ORT America and the local municipality, transform the centre of Kiryat Yam into a sports centre, an open air science park, and a social, educational and cultural centre for Ethiopian Jewry. The donation will also enable the full refurbishment of the neighbouring 40-year-old Rodman High School, including the creation of the adjacent D. Dan and Betty Kahn Science Centre. Kiryat Yam is a largely blue-collar community of 45,000 where the average income is approximately 25 percent lower than the national average. The area has become home to large concentrations of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. (Standing) ORT Atlanta board members Danny Lipson and Richard Bressler; ORT Atlanta co-presidents Jan Haber and Dr. Joe Berger; honorees Susan and Ray Schoenbaum; World ORT Director General Robert Singer; ORT Atlanta board member Hilly Panovka. (Seated) ORT America National President Doreen Hermelin; Award Namesake Joan Lipson; and Danny Lipsons wife, Susan Lipson.), Danny who was overwhelmed by the response, read a letter to guests on behalf of his mother, who was unable to attend the reception. Betty wrote: I realised I would make a long-held impossible dream come true my concern that the status of Ethiopian Jews and other immigrants in Israel could be improved with education. Betty, a long time member of ORT Americas Sarasota Chapter in Florida and a founder of Israels ORT Braude College, went on: Most Ethiopians have become second-class citizens in Israel so the most important thing the Schoenbaum Family Foundation could give them is self-esteem and a trade by which they can make a living. The creation of this educational, cultural and sports campus will make a significant and lasting contribution to Israels positive development through education. The power of giving is tremendous. The ORT Atlanta community welcomed to the celebratory reception Israeli Ambassador Reda Mansour and his wife Mona, an ORT alumnus; Carol Z. Cooper, chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta; Steve Rakitt, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta; ORT America President Doreen Hermelin; and guest speaker World ORT Director General Robert Singer. The Schoenbaum family has made education a priority, said Mr. Singer. Their generosity, especially during these challenging economic times, will help transform three acres of public land into a cutting-edge social, educational and cultural center for Ethiopian Jewry, giving these students the means and tools to live self-sufficient, dignified lives. In January 2009, the Atlanta Region of ORT America will welcome eight students from Israel, four of them from Kiryat Yam, as part of the annual ORT Lipson International Studies Program. The students will live with host-families during the one-month enrichment program designed to promote cultural exchange and a deeper understanding of the worlds Jewish community.