The Queens Jewish Community Council (QJCC) held its 21st annual gala on August 15. Stuart Applebaum, Dr. Adina Pelman (Eshet Chayil Woman of the Year), and the Eduard Nektalov Foundation and the Nektalov family (Community Service) were honored at the event.
Gala awards ceremonies are ordinarily filled with complimentary speeches, and this evening was no exception. However, 2017 has been no ordinary year.
In his opening remarks, Michael Nussbaum, QJCC president, responded to rising domestic and international anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and white supremacism by declaring, “Staying silent is not an option….As Jews, we have an obligation in the face of history to speak out….As Jews, we must take a stand. We must not forget.”
Honoree Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, received the Steve Pesnick Award, given to “a unique labor activist”.
“I’m involved in the labor movement because of my Jewish upbringing,” Appelbaum said. “The best way to respect our Jewish upbringing is to support those in need. Tikkun olam—repair of the world—is needed now more than in a very long time.”
He further stated, “There is no place in society for bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism. They must be condemned at every turn and defeated in the press, on the streets, in the classroom, the workplaces and in the halls of government.”
Roman Nektalov, speaking on behalf of his family, said, “Our unity is our strength. Let’s be together….Ask what you can do for the community….Our community is building bridges.
Dr. Adina Pelman was praised for her work bringing meals, especially Shabbat meals, to those in need.
Former Congressman Gary Ackerman urged, “Do not let anybody, any time, divide us. Our community is based on a tremendous amount of diversity. We are living through a difficult time. We have to decide who we are.”