Giving Back and Giving Forward

With the busy fall Jewish holiday season wrapping up with Simchat Torah in early October, we have the time to reflect on what it truly means to have a new year ahead of us, what our goals are for this year, and how we intend to implement them.

Unlike secular new year’s resolutions, which are often about such superficial things as improving one’s appearance or financial picture, Jewish new year goals are intended to be inward-looking. These goals may sound different if compared, but when you’re looking at the big picture they all come down to the same thing: We want to do better this year. Be a better person. Be a better Jew.

Strengthening ties to the Jewish community has been one of my personal goals every year for as long as I can remember. Both as a religion and as a culture, Jews flourish when we come together as a community and sink when we do not. And Jewish institutions need our participation and support in order to survive and to be there for us when we need them. Knowing this, I make a commitment each year to do what I can to make our local Jewish organizations stronger.

At our Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala this month, the Jewish Pavilion is honoring two people who have done so much to make it a stronger organization: Paul Stenzler and Jason Mendelsohn.

Paul (top left with his wife, Terry) is the Pavilion Board of Directors’ immediate past president and served on the board for several years prior. He became aware of the Jewish Pavilion when volunteers visited his mother and then followed her to several facilities over the years as her care needs changed. Paul started bringing his guitar to the Pavilion’s Sabbath services at his mother’s residences, and his involvement increased from there. With his wife, Terri Fine Stenzler, he leads musical Shabbat and holiday programs at a number of senior facilities. Paul and Terri are Family Sponsors of the Pavilion.

Jason (top right with his wife, Ronni) is a Jewish Pavilion board member and a strong voice for the Pavilion in the Orlando community. His involvement with the Pavilion stems in part from seeing what the visits and programs meant to his father-in-law, a resident of Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs who passed away this summer. Jason’s family business, Ashar Group, which appraises life insurance policies and helps clients obtain settlements for them on the secondary market, is a Pavilion sponsor.

The Jewish Pavilion is celebrating 18 years as a groundbreaking and important model of Jewish communal service that was conceived and born right here in Orlando. The Pavilion needs a lot of community support—volunteers and financial contributions—to stay strong and continue its mission of keeping Orlando’s Jewish seniors in facilities connected to their community.

The Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala on October 28th at Hilton Orlando North in Altamonte Springs will be a really fun way to support and strengthen the Jewish Pavilion. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour with appetizer stations and passed gourmet hors d’oeuvres, while guests can view and bid on silent auction items. The dinner will include an array of options to please every palate, plus desserts and coffee. And Michael Kramer’s Swing State with Special Guest Michael Andrew—well known in Orlando for his stellar jazz vocals and showmanship—will keep the party hopping.

This is a great chance to help fulfill your Jewish new year resolution to do better this year. If you or a loved one has been helped by the Jewish Pavilion in the past, give back by attending the 2018 Gala and/or by donating time or money. And if you don’t yet have that personal connection to the Jewish Pavilion, give forward—make sure that the Pavilion will be here now and in the future for the people who need it.

Come celebrate our 18th—chai—anniversary with us. Join us at the Gems and Jeans 2018 Gala—To Life! Register at

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I did my first program of the year for the Jewish Pavilion. It has been a year. A whole year. Where has it gone? Many of us are starting to do things again for the first time in a year. We have missed

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