It is with a great sense of gratitude that Midreshet Shalhevet (MSH) paid tribute to Guests of Honor Tamara and Mitch Haviv of North Woodmere, Parents of the Year Esther and Jeff Leb of Cedarhurst, and Educator of the Year Coach Ilona Diamond of West Hempstead at its 11th annual scholarship dinner on Tuesday, June 11 at Temple Hillel in North Woodmere.
MSH’s mission has remained the same and continued to strengthen for over ten years. They believe that it is their opportunity and obligation to inspire the young women of today to become the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. They work to guide every student to a love of Torah and learning, develop self-confidence and passion, open them up to new ideas and new insights, and make sure the students are happy to come to school every day. MSH hopes these girls will follow in the footsteps of over 150 illustrious MSH graduates who personify this mission.
“The Scholarship Dinner, the cornerstone of the school’s fundraising for the year, allows us to offer all of our students the many educational and extracurricular opportunities we provide. Thanks to all our supporters, the dinner was a great success this year, ensuring Midreshet Shalhevet’s ability to provide the best Orthodox Jewish high-school education. The dinner is also an opportunity to reflect upon past achievements and future aspirations. MSH is a school that prides itself on teaching our girls hakarat ha’tov in everything they do—not just in theory, but in practice. This was the theme throughout this year’s dinner—each honoree steps up to this plate in their own unique way,” said the rosh ha’yeshiva, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman.
Guests of Honor Mitch and Tamara Haviv give of themselves to the community at large, whether in their shul community or at MSH. They understand that nothing simply happens. MSH was proud to show special hakarat ha’tov for Tamara’s efforts on the Women’s League over the past four years. The Havivs have seamlessly transmitted their values and passion to their children and had received those values from their own parents. Tamara’s mother recently passed away and she agreed to be honored in the z’chus of her mother, Carol Liener Deutsch.
Tamara, born and raised in Pittsburgh, along with her three sisters and one brother, was raised by parents who valued and were advocates for education, both Jewish and secular, especially for women. The Havivs open their home and hearts to MSH.
Parents of the Year Esther and Jeff Leb work to carry the load of the community. Esther is a CPA for a special-education school in Queens, and is involved in a variety of chesed projects, including being instrumental in the creation of Project Machal, which anonymously provides food at supermarkets for free to families that are undergoing financial difficulties. Jeff serves as a leader within the political community, previously having worked at the Orthodox Union and the UJA Federation of New York before founding Capitol Consulting, which does lobbying work in local, state, and federal government. He is also active in political campaigns and sits on the board of the Peninsula Public Library, which serves the Five Towns. The Lebs are always ready to step up, and have helped further the advocacy of MSH students with every visit to Albany.
MSH is fortunate to have these outstanding families as part of the school community where they are always ready to roll up their sleeves and get it done. It has been a distinct pleasure to partner with them. Becky Haviv (MSH ‘19) and Atara Leb (MSH ‘20), as different as these two young ladies are from one another, each share their parents’ commitment to the community and world around them.
This year’s Educator of the Year awardee, director of student activities, coach, and physical education teacher, Ilona Diamond, (“Coach,” as the students call her), reflects the best of what MSH offers. Committed to her students, Coach is dedicated to each of them as students, as individuals, and as young Jewish women; she cares deeply about the school mission and works hard to develop an informal education program to help further that mission.
As a coach, she has always taught students that they represent the school first. She not only teaches but models good sportsmanship, stellar middot, and hakarat ha’tov to the students. In the classroom, Coach Ilona’s lessons reflect knowledge as well as passion for physical education. Her commitment to MSH overall is equally exceptional: she is always ready to do what is needed, whether covering for a colleague or burning the midnight oil planning exceptional activities such as color war, Shabbaton, yimei iyun, guest speakers, and more. Thanks to Coach Ilona, these activities are the highlights of the school year for MSH students. She is truly deserving of the Educator of the Year award.
Midreshet Shalhevet’s supporters have shown their staunch recognition to MSH’s remarkable impact in Jewish high-school education, and as a major force in growing and strengthening our Jewish future through the success of the graduates. Thank you to all who made the dinner a success.