Biz Ins & Outs

Minkoffs to pass JGDC leadership to Michelle Abrams

Jewish Genetic Diseases Center of Greater Phoenix co-founders Dr. Sherman and Andi Minkoff have decided to step down from the JGDC board.  Dr. Minkoff served as board president for 10 years. The couple announced their retirement at the annual donor reception held at the home of Sheila Schwartz on Feb. 23. The board of directors elected Michelle Abrams as president-elect.

The new board will take office on July 1.

“We are very excited to have Michelle as our incoming president,” says JGDC Executive Director Jacqui Breger. “She is a fair leader who is well respected by the board as well as the community and she empowers others to take leadership roles. She and I share a clear and exciting vision for the center and together we are looking forward to expanding the incredible work the Minkoffs began 10 years ago in our community.”

The Minkoffs say that new leadership will nurture their baby and help it grow. Andi urges those who have supported the center all these years to continue to do so. The Minkoffs intend to remain involved – Dr. Minkoff as head of the Medical Advisory Committee and Andi in an advisory capacity.

Just as genetics is passed from one generation to the next, so too is the center being passed on from one generation to the next, ensuring its continuity and future existence.

480-668-3347 |

Sharona Silverman to retire from Shalom Center

Sharona Silverman has announced her retirement as director of the Shalom Center, a position she held for more than 20 years. Her retirement from the center at Temple Chai is effective July 1.

The Shalom Center, created in 1996, provides educational programs, support groups and spiritual development while utilizing Jewish wisdom, tradition and compassion. Its mission is to create a caring and healing community of professionals and volunteers through visiting and comforting those in need, providing emotional guidance and solace through times of growth and change, and teaching Jewish wisdom and practices.

“My hope is to continue to be involved with many of the programs that I have brought to our synagogue and to hopefully be involved with other projects in our community,” says Sharona.

A celebration of the Shalom Center will occur during a Shabbat weekend with Rabbi Rex Perlmeter on May 13-14.

Friedel Foundation creates senior transportation fund

The Friedel Family Foundation has established a transportation fund for Jewish seniors. Established by Alan and Randi Jablin and administered through Smile on Seniors, the fund is made possible through the foundation started by Randi’s parents, Leonard and Phyllis Friedel.

The Friedel Family Foundation’s Senior Transportation Fund will cover 200 hours of rides with Envoy America, an enhanced ride-share program that offers a door-to-door service for seniors. The new fund will provide either individual or shared transportation through Envoy America for affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish seniors, age 65 and older throughout the Greater Phoenix area. “Our hope is that members of the community, and Jewish organizations, will see the value of this program and contribute, thereby eliminating the concern that demand will exceed supply,” says Randi.

Smile on Seniors is a nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of programming for seniors. They will administer the funding of rides, yet the transportation fund will not benefit Smile on Seniors programming, and there are no administrative fees. Rabbi Levi Levertov, who directs the nonprofit with his wife, Chani, says, “A Jewish senior who needs to go shopping, to the theater or anywhere else will now have the opportunity.”

Each senior is eligible for up to four free rides per month; call Envoy America one day in advance to schedule. Donations are accepted to fund future rides.


Chef Lenard Rubin named regional Chef of the Year

Lenard Rubin, CEC, executive chef at The Country Club at DC Ranch, in Scottsdale, was named 2016 American Culinary Federation Western Region Chef of the Year on Feb. 6. He received the title following a competition at the ACF Western Regional Culinary Salon held at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology, Reno, NV.

Many of Chef Rubin’s recipes and photos of his work have been published in cookbooks including New York Times Passover Cookbook, Jewish Cooking in America and Savor the Southwest. In 1998 and 2001 he was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York, and in 2002 he was inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame as Chef Extraordinaire. He has been the executive chef with The Country Club at DC Ranch since 2013.

Rubin will now prepare to compete for the national title against his regional counterparts at the ACF’s Cook. Craft. Create. Convention & Show, in Phoenix, July 15-19. The national winner receives $5,000 and the title of 2016 USA’s Chef of the Year.

“Being named the regional champion is the honor of a lifetime,” said Rubin. “To prepare for the national competition, I will train with my mentor and friend, Walter Leible, CMC, and study as much as possible to get myself ready for the ultimate culinary throw-down! Competing in front of my hometown crowd in Phoenix will energize and motivate me to perform at the highest level.”
480-342-7246 |

Temple Gan Elohim moves to Sun City West Foundation

Temple Gan Elohim, a Reform Jewish community, invites the public to Kabbalat Shabbat services in their new home at the Sun City West Foundation, 14465 W R.H. Johnson Blvd., Sun City West. Song leader Scott Leader will continue to add music to these beautiful services.

Continuing TGE’s commitment to its West Valley origins, the congregation is dedicated to growing its roots in the West Valley.
“TGE is centered in caring outreach, warm family connection and inclusiveness,” says Rabbi Tracee Rosen. “Join us for services and help us grow our community. We look forward to meeting you.”

Services will take place the first and third Friday night of each month in the Grand Canyon Room. TGE also conducts Nosh & Learn adult education discussions twice a month and is planning a Passover Community Seder and Dinner. The April 24 seder will begin at 4 pm, followed by dinner at 5:15.

Temple Gan Elohim’s mission is to promote the values of Judaism as a Reform congregation through a caring, welcoming, spiritual environment of worship, learning and community involvement.

602-899-1426 |

Jeanna Michaels launches Compass Players

Actress and director Jeanna Michaels has founded a new theater company in the West Valley. Named Compass Players, it promises to take the dramatic arts in “a surprising direction.” The new company’s stated goal is “to bring talent and theater to the Surprise area.”

The company’s first production, Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two” will be presented at Theater Works in Peoria beginning April 15. Eventually, Compass Players hopes to have its own venue in the city of Surprise.

Jeanna Michaels is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City. She comes to this venture from a career in stage, television and film. She is best known for playing Bobby Ewing’s secretary on the television series “Dallas,” but was also seen for years on “General Hospital” and other television shows. Locally, she has taught acting and directed for the Sun City Grand Drama and Comedy Club. She says she wants to incorporate talent of all ages from the community into the shows. Asked why she has this passion to create, she says, “Once you are an actor, you are always an actor. You always want to tell a good story.”
The other three founding members of Compass Players – Dave Golden, Frances Murphy and Steve Murphy – are also part of the local theater scene. |

Lori Riegel invited to present at Harvard conference

Lori Riegel, MJEd, was selected to present her research, entitled “Engaging Diverse Families: Looking for the Missing Piece” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Research Conference in a roundtable presentation on March 25.

Lori is a PhD candidate in educational leadership in a joint program of Lesley University and Hebrew College. Riegel’s research focuses on the engagement of racial and ethnic minority families in schools and barriers to their participation.
This is second time she has been selected to present at this conference.

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