Via a UJA Federation of New York Release:
More than 350 guests joined UJA-Federation of New York’s Westchester Region as it honored the Beckman family of Scarsdale and the Rieger family of Bedford. At this Westchester Celebration, Yoav Cohen of White Plains was recognized for his contributions as Westchester’s first shaliach, or Israeli emissary, who serves as a cultural bridge between the local community and Israel.
The event took place on April 14 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, where guests came together as a community to applaud the achievements of the honorees for their committed leadership in the Westchester Jewish community and to support UJA-Federation and its network of nearly 100 local and global nonprofits.
The evening’s theme focused on the families’ legacy of transmitting values — including commitment to their Jewish heritage, philanthropy, caring for those in need, and collective responsibility — and recognized the honorees for their dedication to making a difference through their actions.
“In the rich narrative of Jewish history, the Beckmans and Riegers continued the chain by passing these meaningful values to their children,” said UJA-Federation’s Westchester Regional Chair Martine Fleishman of Purchase. She encouraged guests to view an exhibit at the event, a colorful timeline that showcased UJA-Federation’s response to the events that have shaped the Jewish community around the world.
“You’ll see that UJA-Federation’s history may very well mirror your family history in many ways,” she continued. “For nearly 100 years, we’ve responded in times of challenge — during the Great Depression, the darkness of the Holocaust, and the Six-Day War — and in times of joy and opportunity, such as the establishment of the State of Israel and the opening of the Iron Curtain to Soviet Jews.”
An interactive drumming experience kicked off the program and enlivened the evening.
Shari and Joel Beckman, who were honored with their sons, Steven and Jacob, have embraced the values of UJA-Federation for the past 30 years. Shari has served the organization in many capacities, including as Scarsdale area chair and as a member of both the Board of Directors and the Westchester Program Services Cabinet, which provides funding to programs that further the Westchester Jewish community’s efforts to address needs and support new approaches to successful models. Shari’s professional career as a college advisor to high school students has extended to volunteer opportunities, such as working with the Off the Street program, which is run by UJA-Federation beneficiary agency Westchester Jewish Community Services.
Co-founder of Greenbriar Equity Group, a private equity firm in Rye, Joel serves on the Board of Directors for UJA-Federation and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. A past board member of theJewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester, he is vice-chairman of the Chordoma Foundation and active in other philanthropic organizations.
Recognized with their daughters, Rebecca, Hillary, and Abigail, Heidi and Richard Rieger have devoted much of their lives to supporting the Jewish people. A member of UJA-Federation’s Board of Directors, Heidi is a founding member of The Neshamot Fund – Westchester Women’s Venture Philanthropy of UJA-Federation. A certified social worker with a part-time practice in Northern Westchester, shecurrently sits on the boards of the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, Facing History and Ourselves, Clal, The Jewish Education Project, and The Blue Card. Richard serves as a senior advisor to Kingdon Capital. He serves on the board of the University Settlement House, the Photography Committee at MoMA, and the board of trustees at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
As shaliach, Yoav Cohen has built bridges and fostered understanding between the community and Israel. Born in Johannesburg, Yoav lived in South Africa until the age of 12, when he moved to Israel. He served in the IDF as a platoon commander and fitness trainer. Following his service, he worked in Israel’s high-tech sector at software giant SAP and then in the academic world at IDC Herzliya. He also co-founded friendasoldier.com, an innovative dialogue website connecting former IDF soldiers with the rest of the world.
The gathering also heard from Eric S. Goldstein, UJA-Federation’s CEO. “Westchester is an extraordinary philanthropic community,” he told the gathering. Speaking to the honorees, he added, “You represent the best of this community, and we’re grateful to you.”
Mindy and Andrew Feldman of Harrison, Janie and Adam Frieman of New Rochelle, Anita and Richard Greenwald of Armonk, Michele and Judah Kraushaar of Chappaqua, Randi and Dan Kreisler of Pleasantville, and Nancy and Robert Rieger of Rye served as event chairs.
About UJA-Federation of New York
For more than 95 years, UJA-Federation has inspired New Yorkers to act on their values and invest in our community for the biggest impact. Through UJA-Federation, more than 50,000 donors address issues that matter most to them, pooling their resources to care for New Yorkers of all backgrounds and Jews everywhere, to connect people to their Jewish communities, and to respond to crises close to home and around the globe. Working with nearly 100 beneficiary agencies, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations, UJA-Federation is the world’s largest local philanthropy; our reach spans from New York to Israel to more than 70 other countries around the world, touching 4.5 million people each year. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, please visit our website at www.ujafedny.org.