Roberta Aaronson credits her strong background in Jewish communal involvement to her father. Her involvement in the Rockland Jewish community began at New City Jewish Center, with their sisterhood, serving in a variety of capacities, including Secretary and multiple vice-presidencies. Roberta served on the synagogue Board for over 15 years.
Roberta is a lifetime member of Hadassah and ORT. She has served as President of the Clarkstown Chapter of Women’s American ORT, on the ORT regional board and on the ORT New York State District Board. She served as the ORT Liason to the Rockland UJA effort to free Soviet Jewry, which led to her involvement with the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County. Roberta has served on Federation’s Executive Board as secretary, Vice President and President.
Roberta and her husband Mark are contributors to the annual JCC Rockland Wall of Giving and to the Rockland Jewish Community Campus capital campaign.
Roberta is the mother of Neil and Josh, daughter in law Cindy and grandmother of Julia, Haley, Ryan and Landon.
Simona Chivian Chazen was born in Newark New Jersey and was a “Cub” reporter for the Newark Star Ledger in her first career.
She attended the University of Wisconsin where she studied journalism and philosophy and met Jerry Chazen at a jazz record session he had created. The two clicked and later married and had three children, Kathy in Milwaukee, Louise in Philadelphia and David in Detroit as they followed the path of Jerry’s career. Finally, it brought them back to the East and Rockland County.
Here, Simona’s second career began when she joined VCS, an exciting new social service agency as a volunteer. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work at Fordham University and became the first Associate Executive Director of VCS, where she initiated some of their cutting edge programs. She is still an active supporter and supervisor of casework as well as serving on the Board of Directors.
She has been a psychotherapist in private practice for many years, and that is her third career.
In addition, Simona is an active member of the Board of Directors of the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC and the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin. She is a strong supporter of JCC Rockland, the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County and many other organizations.
She is a proud Founder of VCS, the Center for Safety & Change, the Rockland Community Foundation and the Rockland Pride Center.
Simona has seven grandchildren and is an art collector, opera buff and jazz fan.
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill has been one of three rabbis of the Orangetown Jewish Center, Orangeburg, New York since she was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2004. She is a recipient of a Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Prior to returning to full-time study in rabbinical school, Paula worked for eleven years as a social worker (Columbia University/JTS Joint Graduate Program) in the Jewish community at Daughters of Israel Geriatric Center and Golda Och Academy, both in West Orange, NJ. Additionally, she served as the Assistant Director at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, NY for seven summers.
Paula’s passions are advocacy on behalf of mental illness and people with physical disabilities, community support of the homeless, and education about domestic violence. She was honored by the New York Board of Rabbis for her work in Domestic Violence Prevention. She is currently a member of the Jewish Federation of Rockland Board and on the Executive Council of Rockland Clergy for Social Justice (with work focused on the Constitutional rights to education for the children of the East Ramapo Central School District). During her recent sabbatical, Rabbi Drill became a Kripalu Yoga RYT 200 hour Teacher.
Paula and her husband Jonathan are the proud parents of six children, Noah and his wife Rochelle, Sarah and her husband Sagi, Ben, and Josh.
How can we think of The Center for Safety & Change (formerly the Rockland Family Shelter) without appreciating the enormous impact of Carolyn Fish? Retiring in March 2015, she served as the Executive Director for 35 years and was a founding member and the driving force behind the agency. Thanks to her passionate leadership, a grassroots initiative grew into a national model serving survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Carolyn has been recognized locally, statewide, nationally and internationally for her ongoing work to realize the Center’s mission: to create a society in which all individuals can live with dignity and equality, free from fear, violence and oppression. Her life of activism began in the early 1970s when she attended a planning meeting of the Rockland County Chapter of NOW (the National Organization for Women), then became Vice President. As NOW began to address the topic and needs of “battered women” throughout the country, the Rockland Coalition Against Domestic Violence led to the creation of the Rockland Family Shelter in 1978, (name changed to Center
for Safety & Change in 2014.)
With Carolyn as its Executive Director, her leadership helped create an agency that focused on the broad spectrum of survivor services. The agency emphatically addressed in its programs and services an intersectionality between racism and sexism and other oppressed groups.
An outstanding communicator, Carolyn has lectured throughout the country on the subject of Intimate Partner violence, often as a keynote speaker. She has served on committees and task forces, including the NY State Crime Victims’ Board Advisory Council, and the NY State Coalition Against Domestic Violence where she was co-president.
Her numerous personal awards and honors recognizing her outstanding contribution to the field include the Liberty Bell Award from the Rockland County Bar Association, the Women of Distinction Award from NY State Senate and the Advocate of the Year from NYS Crime Victims Board, The Trefoil Partnership Award by the Girl Scout Council of Rockland County. Under her leadership the agency received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Community Service presented by Gov. Mario Cuomo, The Pinnacle Award from the Rockland Business Association the Rockland County Economic Development Corp’s Service Provider of the Year Award and the agency of the year award by El Carin.
Carolyn was included in the anthology: “Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975.”
Carolyn was married to the late Irvin Fink for 47 years. They have 2 daughters, Amy and Lori and 3 grandchildren, Brianna, Benjamin and Mariah.
She is an exemplary leader and all those whose lives have been touched by her devotion, honor Carolyn Fish for all she has done on behalf of the community.
Phyllis B. Frank
Phyllis B Frank’s tireless work towards ending racism, sexism and on affirming the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community has permanently changed Rockland County. Her record of accomplishments and honors received for work on behalf of battered women, toward racial justice and on the creation of the Rockland County Pride Center, is truly astounding.
Awards would come as no surprise to Phyllis’ family. Born in Brooklyn to Marty and Billie (Yetta) Gilbert during World War II, Phyllis learned about oppression early on. Like many Jewish families, her parents were involved with helping holocaust survivors escape to the United States. She shudders as she remembers innocently tracing numbers tattooed on the arms of survivors who were arriving at their home. Those times seem to have made an indelible impression on Phyllis. So much so, that her younger brother noted that she seemed to have been born with an overly developed “injustice gene”. Her childhood mantra, “That’s just not fair! We need to fix it.” characterizes her life work to this day.
Being Jewish is a central component of Phyllis’ community organizing and activist identity. Her older brother said that though he spent much more time in synagogue than she did, Phyllis was living what, for him, was the real meaning of being Jewish, characterized by tzedakah, the religious obligation to do what is right and just. It is with boundless pride that Phyllis stands with her sister award recipients at the Founders Dinner, Celebrating Jewish Women in Leadership.
Aside from her social justice work at VCS, Phyllis quietly maintains a psychotherapy practice in Nyack, her home community. Beyond her very considerable professional accomplishments, she enjoys her close relationship with her sister and best friend, Denise, brothers Steven and Henry and her sons and their partners and her grandchildren.
Orli graduated from The City College of NY’s School of Architecture. She is a licensed architect in NY, NJ and PA. Her work is primarily in NYC. Orli’s projects have included residential buildings, apartment renovations, commercial, industrial, and community facility uses. Her work includes architectural planning, design, design development, building permit approvals, as well as preconstruction and construction consulting for her clients.
In the Rockland Community, Orli has addressed many community needs. At Congregation Sons of Israel Nyack, Orli was involved in the planning and construction of the building expansion as well as post construction revisions.
At JCC Rockland, Orli has been a board-member since 2007. She was involved in the planning, sponsoring and hosting of the Maccabi games and athletes. She and her husband Mark have been sponsors of the JCC Rockland film festival for many years. She and her husband have been supporters of the Wall of Giving and are involved in the Capital Campaign for the RJCC. When RJA, Rockland Jewish Academy decided to make their home at the JCC Campus, Orli designed the plans for the new facility. When the JCC started the Early Childhood Center, she was part of the planning committee and designed the plans for the new Center. When the Early Childhood Center needed to expand, Orli was there for the expansion. When the outdoor pool needed additional changing rooms for the summer camp program, Orli was there too. As the JCC needs change and its building needs renovation, Orli is there to help.
Orli also supports the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County and opens her home to host special events. Orli has been a member of the PTA at Reuben Gittleman Hebrew Day School, which her children attended, and was a member of the public school PTA and the Public School Special Needs PTA.
Orli is the mother of three children and has encouraged them all to participate and volunteer. She has taught them the value of the JCC and its importance as a community center. Orli and her family live in Grandview.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
Assemblywoman Ellen C. Jaffee was first elected to the NYS Assembly in 2007. She represents the 97th Assembly District.
In Albany, Ellen has provided innovative leadership, and advanced legislation to improve the lives of women, children, families, and older adults, tirelessly advocating for quality education, child care, women’s equality, job creation, property tax relief, small business assistance, public health and safety, criminal justice reform, and environmental protection. Environmental Advocates of New York has awarded her a perfect score of 100% for her legislative record.
As Chair of the Committee on Children and Families, her priorities include ensuring that every family has access to safe, high-quality, affordable child care; early childhood education; the well-being of children and youth in foster and kinship care; and securing funds so that communities have the resources, services, and programs they need to support our most vulnerable.
Former Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues, Ellen’s standout bills include New York’s landmark Breast Density Inform Law, helping to increase early detection standards in breast cancer screening; speedy anti-HIV/AIDS treatment for victims of sexual assault; access to services for women suffering from addiction; and expanding work force assistance and training programs for women.
Born in Brooklyn, Ellen and her late husband, Steve Jaffee, moved to Suffern in 1978 where they raised two children, Marc and Allison.
Ellen earned her B.A. in Education from Brooklyn College, her M.S. in Special Education from Fordham University, and worked as a resource room teacher at the Pomona Junior High School / Middle School for 20 years. Elected as a Village of Suffern Trustee in 1994, Ellen went on to serve in the Rockland County Legislature where she remained until her election to the Assembly.
Born in Lompoc, California, Shira grew up in Great Neck, New York. She is a graduate of the North Shore Hebrew Academy of Great Neck and the Ramaz Upper School, located in Manhattan. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science and received an M.B.A. with distinction in Finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Shira was an equity analyst at Lehman Brothers from 1990-97, specializing in the electrical equipment and appliance industries.
Shira recently completed her term as the Israel Bonds National Women’s Division Chairperson and is a member of the Israel Bonds National Board of Directors for the past 6 years. She previously served as Rockland County (NY) State of Israel Bonds General Chairman, Campaign Chair, New Leadership Chair, Women’s Division Chair and Women’s Division Associate Chair. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). She is a former Executive Board member of the Rockland Jewish Community Center, former Women’s Division board member of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County and is a former Vice President of the Barnard College alumni class of 1990. Shira is married to Eric and is the mother of Jesse and Shawn.
Wendy Rothberg’s commitment to JCC Rockland is evident as she was an original supporter of the Wall of Giving. Her commitment continued through her son's involvement in the JCC Maccabi Games.
Wendy is dedicated to the betterment of the local public school system. She is an original member of Concerned Advocates for Public Schools (CAPS), an East Ramapo PTA president, a member of the PTA Council and a Secondary School Liason to the Superintendent.
For the past 20 years Wendy has been the Chairperson for Paramount Country Club’s annual Play for PINK. Through this work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation she is dedicated to the research and development of a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime.
Wendy is the dedicated daughter to Pearl, proud wife of Ronald, loving mother and grandmother of David, Anna, Hannah and Hudson.
Linda Russin is truly an accomplished leader in the Rockland Jewish community and a worthy honoree for this year’s Founders Dinner honoring Jewish Women in leadership.
Linda and her husband, Barry, have lived in Rockland County for 30 years where they have proudly raised their sons. Jordan and his wife, Laura, are parents of Ryan, age 7 1-2 and Millie, age 6. Adam and his wife, Andrea, are soon to be the parents of twins. Linda and Barry belong to the Nanuet Hebrew Center, where Linda is a past board member.
Linda has been a pivotal force behind the Rockland Jewish Community Campus since its inception in 1996. She is the past President of the JCC Rockland Capital Campaign to build our campus. She has also served as the JCC Rockland President, Fundraising Vice President for 5 years and currently serves as an honorary board member.
Her involvement has led her to become a board member, Vice Chairwoman and executive committee member of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. She also chaired the 2016 JCCA Biennial in Baltimore.
Linda is a past board member, executive board member and Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County where she is also a past board member of the Women’s Campaign. She has also served as Chairwoman of the Editorial Board of the Rockland Jewish Reporter, and on the board of the Florence Melton Adult Mini School.
Linda has been honored for her community work, receiving a Jewish Federation of Rockland County Community Service Award in 2002 and 2008. She is also a recipient of the Stanley Blumenthal Community Service Award in 2015. Linda is a recipient of the JCC Founders Award in 2000, 2006 and 2018.
Linda is also a Life member of Hadassah.
Audree Yorkes was born in Brooklyn and moved to Valley Stream L. I. together with her sister Eileen and her parents when she was 16. She applied and got a job with Archie Comics which by coincidence was Arthur's childhood nickname. When she got a call from the Comic Book Co. she almost hung up on them thinking it was a joke.
Audree and Arthur got married in 1959. They lived in Brooklyn and moved to L. I. They had 2 sons, Peter and Michael.
Eventually they made their way to Orangeburg, N. Y. where they raised their 2 sons.
Her two granddaughters, Molly and Emma were the joy of her life.
Audree had an illness that lasted 2 years of her life that was incurable and she died in July, 2015.
Dynamic and passionate, Rivkie Feiner’s involvement in community affairs stems from a deep sense of responsibility and concern for both the individual and the community. Her dedication is reflected in the positions she has held as Program Director of the Overseas Aid Consortium of Agudath Israel of America, as a Fellow in JCRC–NY’s Community Connections Fellowship Program, as a member of Rockland Federation’s CRC, and since July 2017, Rivkie has served on the JCC Rockland Board of Directors.
A powerful motivational speaker and presenter, Rivkie has been a panelist in forums about government and foundation funding at the annual President’s Conference of Torah Umesorah – National Society of Hebrew Day Schools, the USAID/ASHA conference in Washington, D.C., Agudath Israel’s lay leader conclaves, the Jewish Women’s Entrepreneur conference, etc.
In 2013, Rivkie assumed the position of CEO at Universal Communications Network (UCN), a program development consulting firm that assists clients in obtaining program funding, where she began as the first employee almost 25 years ago. To date, UCN has procured hundreds of millions of dollars in grants for nonprofits. Rivkie’s resolve to break barriers in the world of Jewish fundraising has successfully facilitated the expansion of numerous nonprofits worldwide.
Rivkie has devoted countless hours to the broader community in Rockland as well, winning awards and honors from American Friends of Shaare Zedek Medical Center Women’s Division, Yeshiva Darchei Noam and Tomche Shabbos of Rockland. As a consummate leader with outstanding communication and people skills, she has used her abilities to network and foster cooperation and collaboration between diverse populations, always respectfully seeking to find common ground.
In addition to all Rivkie’s accomplishments, the one that clearly defines her most is her pride in and dedication to her own family. With their welfare ever on her mind, she tirelessly advocates for children’s safety, health, financial literacy and quality education.