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Young Israel Holds Annual Banquet

The Young Israel of Plainview held their 42nd annual dinner recently, singling out two extraordinary couples for their years of dedication to the synagogue. Elaine and Gerry Gross were recipients of the prestigious Pillars of the Community award, while Shelley and Gary Katz were the evening’s guests of honor, the highest award bestowed by the synagogue.

Elaine Gross was involved in educating and inspiring youth for 44 years before recently retiring. Gerry, a Navy veteran, currently serves as a facilities manager at Jamaica Hospital. Elaine was vice president of Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and was a member of the Board of Education. Gerry was previously the Plainview Coordinator for the Orthodox Little League for 10 years. They have been members of the Young Israel of Plainview for 34 fruitful years.

Gary is president and CEO of the International Securities Exchange. He and his wife Shelley are actively involved in the synagogue with Gary being Chair of the Expansion Committee and Shelley being Chair of the Sisterhood Meal Committee which provides meal arrangements to community members in time of need. In addition, they are actively involved in the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County as well as Ronald McDonald House and Autism Speaks.

The schedule was structured such that the evening started with an elaborate dinner buffet in the grand ballroom, giving all the attendees a chance to settle in as they mingled with one another. Afterwards, the crowd was ushered into the main sanctuary for the much anticipated award presentation. Once again, Larry Cohn served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, a position not foreign to him, having functioned as such on numerous occasions. He regaled the standing room only crowd with humorous narratives involving both sets of honorees, who he has known for many years, balanced deftly by heartwarming anecdotes of their commitment to and dedication for the synagogue they hold so dear.  

The honoree’s speeches were preceded by lively introductions by friends and family. Deborah Plutzer took to the stage first, recounting her multi-decade friendship with the guests of honor. Next, the Katz’s children described how much they appreciated being raised in a family enveloped in both love and warmth. Afterwards, Shelley and Gary Katz spoke in novel and imaginative fashion, envisioning the proceedings as if it were their Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, respectively. Benny Gross, son of Elaine and Gerry, then took over the dais, deadpanning his way through an amusing chronicle of his parent’s selfless lives. The Grosses themselves finished off the speeches, matching each other’s quick wit and magnetic charm.

When the dust had finally settled, co-chairs Larry Cohn and Joanne Mlotok could not have been more satisfied with the results.

“As members of the Journal Committee, we were given the challenging task of putting together an event that properly paid homage to two of the most deserving couples we have ever honored, no small feat to say the least,” said Cohn. “Shelley and Gary Katz and Elaine and Gerry Gross exemplify the altruistic and admirable qualities of self-sacrifice, benevolence and dedication that our community holds so dear. We are so glad that we were able to organize an event that appropriately recognized their remarkable body of work.”