On Tuesday, June 28, a crowd of 500 gathered at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island in the Seaview section to celebrate the 49th Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO-SI). COJO was established in 1967 as the central coordinating and resource organization for the Staten Island Jewish community which currently boasts a constituency of 40,000 and growing. COJO-SI is also a proud founder and charter member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY).
Among the elected officials in attendance were Congressman Daniel Donovan, District Attorney Michael McMahon, Councilmember and Minority Leader Steve Matteo, Councilmember Debi Rose, and Assemblyman Ron Castorina. Kevin Elkins represented Comptroller Scott Stringer; Jason Razefsky represented Borough President James Oddo; William Matarazzo represented Senator Andrew Lanza; Vincent Argenziano represented Assemblyman Michael Cusick; and Roy Moskowitz represented Assemblyman Matt Titone. Also in attendance was Surrogate Robert Gigante, Judge Kim Dollard, Public Administrator Anthony Catalano, Former Borough President Ralph Lamberti, and Hon. John P. Gulino, the chairman of the Democratic Committee of Richmond County.
Among the civic and community leaders in attendance were Rabbi Michael Miller, the CEO and executive vice-president of JCRC; Rabbi Bob Kaplan, director, Center for Community Leadership at the JCRC; Dana Magee, chairman of Community Board 2; Louis Gallo, chairman and New York State Executive Committee Member of the Order Sons of Italy in America, Grand Lodge New York; Frank Cicero, past president Order Sons of Italy in America, Staten Island Chapter; Chaplain Rev. Dr. Marcos Miranda, president of the New York State Chaplains Task Force; Chaplain Rev. Dr. Daniel Delgado, vice-president of operations and Staten Island borough director of the New York State Chaplains Task Force; and Rabbi Yechiel Malik, director of Orthodox Jewish Division of the New York State Chaplains Task Force.
The presentation of the Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance was administered by the Jewish War Veterans, Post 80 of Staten Island, Charles Greinsky, Commander. The National Anthem was sung by Giuseppe Taormina.
Among the NYPD top brass in attendance were Community Affairs Bureau Chief Joanne Jaffe; Assistant Chief Edward DeLatorre, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Staten Island (PBSI); as well as the commanding officers of the four Staten Island Precincts, Deputy Inspector Robert Bocchino from Precinct 120, Captain Matthew Harrington from Precinct 121, Deputy Inspector Ebany Washington from Precinct 122, and Captain Kenneth Noonan from Precinct 123. Also in attendance were FDNY Chief Richard Howe and Deputy Chief John Hodgens.
COJO-SI honored at this gala New York City Councilman and Council Minority Leader Steve Matteo with the President’s Award; Paul Forster, Esq., a highly respected Staten Island Attorney with the Philanthropic Award; Ms. Josephine Marino, president of NYPD Precinct 120 Community Council and Community Relations Representative Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield with the Community Service Award; NYPD Community Affairs Bureau Chief Joanne Jaffe and the Community Affairs Officers of the NYPD with the Hero’s Award; and Mitchell D. Harris and Austin Maurer with the Young Leadership Award.
Mendy Mirocznik, president of COJO, praised the community affairs and crime-prevention officers “as the diplomatic core of the NYPD that builds positive relations and bridges with the community. Thanks to their efforts, we at COJO have successfully teamed up with the NYPD and have developed a strong positive community partnership, and all this is thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts of Chief Joanne Jaffe and Chief Edward DeLatorre.”
Mirocznik then went on to praise Scott Maurer, the chief executive officer of COJO, and surprised him with the Founders Award. Mirocznik stated, “In no small measure is our success, growth, and rejuvenation attributable to our dear friend Scott Maurer. Scott lives COJO 24/7 and he always says yes. The word no does not exist in his vocabulary. Thanks to Scott we are flourishing.”
Maurer, upon accepting the award, said, “Working for COJO, the community, the State of Israel is an easy sell. It is easy because of what COJO accomplishes as an organization, and that is building a strong, vibrant community.”