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April 07, 2011 - Denver Jewish Day School honors Woman of Valor

What: Denver Jewish Day School annual dinner

Where: Grand Hyatt Denver

When: Thursday, April 7, 2011

Time: 5:30 p.m. cocktails, 6:15 program

Ticket Prices: $250/each

Beneficiary: Denver Jewish Day School

Master of Ceremonies: David Foster, board chair

Honoree(s): Laurie Morris, Ellen Robinson, Leslie Sidell and Sandra Vinnik

Co-Chair(s): Marcy Balogh, Lisa Reckler, Cohn, D Diamond, Beth Ginsberg, Leslie Ginsburg, Mimi Goss, Nancy Kaufman, Kim Schneider Malek and Lindsay Vinnik

President(s): Head of School/CEO: Avi Halzel

Speaker: Emily Hyatt, Alumni 2003, Avi Halzel, Head of School/CEO, David Foster, Board Chair, Children of honorees and Sandra Vinnik, Honoree

Catering: Grand Hyatt: Kosher supervision by TRI Sulam

Sponsors: Harvey & Sue Allon, Richard Altman, Michael Rosen, David Berlin, Tash Bernton, Robert and Paulette Brody, Harvey and Paula Deutsch, David Foster, Ian Gardenswartz, The Gart Companies, Guaranty Bank and Trust, Marty and Marie Herzog, Donald & Henny Kauffman, Brad Levin & Patti Robinson, Bob & Robyn Loup, Jimmy & Debbie Lustig, MDC Richmond American Homes, Miller Global Properties, Rocky Miller, Diane Morris, National Distributing, Michael Opatowski, Jordon Perlumtter, Jon Perlmutter, Doug Pluss, Republic National Distributors, Rose Medical Center, Southern Wine & Spirts, Michael Strear, Debbie Aleinikoff & Marci Roper, Steven Toltz, Warren and Ruth, The Vinnik Family, Elaine Wolf & Sandy Wolf and Gary Yourtz

Auctioneer: Peter Kudla, President Metropolitan Homes

Attendance: 526

Attire: Business

Florist: Newberry Brothers

Board of Directors: Jodi Asarch, Nancy Bernstein, David Brown, Lisa Cohn, DiAhndra Diamond, Annie Foonberg, David Foster, Lindsay Gardner, Rona Kark, David Kaufman, Elaine Kauffman, Richard Kornfeld, Scott Levin, Ray Merenstein, Ellen Robinson, Chandra Rosenthal, Jacques Ruda, Brent Slosky, Dr. Steve Volin, Jason Williamson and Rabbi Raymond Zwerin

Blacktie Photos by: Marcelo Mainzer

 JDS 2011 Honorees: Sandra Vinnik, left, Leslie Sidell, Ellen Robinson and Laurie Morris
JDS 2011 Honorees: Sandra Vinnik, left, Leslie Sidell, Ellen Robinson and Laurie Morris

Judaism has a tradition of study, scholars and education. The foundations of Judaism are based on study, of the Torah and Talmud. Denver Jewish Day School continues that tradition today and has done so since 1975.

The mission of the Jewish community day school is "to educate Jewish students through an integrated secular and Jewish studies program to thrive in college and beyond and act ethically and purposefully in the world." This is in keeping with the sacred responsibility and pact Tikkun olam, "repairing the world."
Although a Jewish education is serious business, the act of learning is filled with joy and laughter. On April 7, students, teachers, parents, board members and supporters of JDS gathered at the Denver Grand Hyatt to celebrate education and honor four “Woman of Valor” who have served that purpose: Sandra Vinnik, Laurie Morris, Ellen Robinson and Leslie Sidell.
The ante-room of the Hyatt ballroom was packed to capacity with people laughing and “kibitzing” by the time the dining room doors opened and they flowed in to kibitz some more. Emcee David Foster, on stage, asked humorously several times if his microphone was on before members of the audience aided him with the clinking of wine glasses.
After being introduced by David, Rabbi Selwyn Franklin invited all the children and grandchildren of the honorees up on stage to share his invocation and delivery of the Motzi. Rabbi Franklin reminded attendees that Jewish education is rooted in the context of inquiry that requires always asking why. Rabbi Franklin was followed by JDS graduate Cooper Kaminsky, who gave a powerful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah.
Head of School Avi Halzel joined David Foster onstage to introduce the honorees and their children. Woman of Valor recipient Laurie Morris was introduced as a "jewel." Her sons Ethan and MIchael, and Shane via video, told the crowd about how proud they are of their mother, who has contributed countless hours of commitment and volunteerism to the school and the Jewish community. With all of her myriad of accomplishments, they joked, “The most impressive stat might be the more than 10,000 hours of carpool time." 
Brooke Robinson provided the crowd with a tribute to her mother, Woman of Valor recipient Ellen Robinson. With a history of giving, caring and participation in school committees, events and boards, it is evident how strongly Ellen believes in the importance and value of a Jewish education. "Her commitment isn’t just about giving me and Josh a Jewish education, but making sure any and all Jews in Denver have the choice to give their children the same opportunity," said Brooke.
When it was Leah and Hannah Sidell’s turn to introduce their mom, they talked about Leslie Sidell's participation in school PTO, boards and many other philanthropic roles within the Jewish community, but they seemed equally impressed with the fact that they discovered she has a Facebook account. “I think we’ve got the coolest mom,” they said in presenting their mom with her Woman of Valor award.
Sandra Vinnik, flanked by her two adult sons Stephen and Jonathan, was the last Woman of Valor to speak. Looking at their mother with love and admiration, both men shared just some of Sandra Vinnik’s  long list of accomplishments. Sandra Vinnik has established a dynasty of service to the Jewish community of Colorado and has served on countless boards and has been heavily involved in the school and community.
Representing all the honorees, Sandra Vinnik thanked the staff and board of Jewish Day School. She voiced the thoughts of everyone present: “It is easy to pay tribute to Denver JDS. They have taught my grandchildren to live a blessed life, to be learned and that learning is revered. They have been taught patriotism and love for America, but at the same time taught knowledge of their Jewish heritage."
Denver JDS alumna Emily Hyatt, class of 2003, shared her experience at JDS--the spirit of community among her classmates and the dedication of the faculty. Emily, who is pursuing a career in law, is just one of the graduates who have attended some of the finest colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.
Avi Halzel, Head of School and CEO at JDS summed up and closed the speaking portion of the evening. “I would like to begin by offering a heartfelt Todah Rabah to each and every one of you for your dedication and support of Denver JDS and Jewish education. Denver JDS students go on to lead inspired lives and we are inspired by them."
To further encourage support, funding and donations to JDS, Peter Kudla took the stage to auction off some wonderful items. Peter's unique style of auctioneering is to not only take bids but call on his endless list of friends to bid, more telling then asking how much each can afford to give. Peter himself led by example in bidding on several items and by his enormous contributions to JDS and other charitable organizations.
Mazel Tov to JDS for being blessed and blessing the world with leaders who will continue to “Tikkun olam," repair the world for us all.


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