Meet the Honorees

Shoshana Dweck
GUEST OF HONOR

Shoshana Dweck still recalls the first time she walked through the doors at Bi-Cultural Day School — and the central paradigm she then learned from the school’s founding principal, Walter Shuchatowitz — aka ‘Mr. S’.

“Mr. S told us when we first came to BCDS that he didn’t know how many kids were affiliated with the different streams [of Judaism] or were secular,” says the Guest of Honor of this year’s Dinner Celebration. “He said he didn’t pay attention to what the children did in their homes today; he cared only what their homes would be like in the future. That ability to see the potential in all of us, to look beyond today’s facts to tomorrow’s dream, is the most fundamental lesson I learned, for myself and my children, from BCDS. And I learned it the first time I walked in the building.”

Then, she notes, Mr. S brought the family a case of hot dogs. And that was good too.

Today, Shoshana, a resident of Armonk, New York and the mother of three BCDS alumni, credits her experience at BCDS with drawing her close not only to the school, but also to the entire Stamford Jewish community. That closeness translates into a long list of organizations and causes within the Jewish community that Shoshana has supported with her time and energy, as well as her philanthropy.

A member of the BCDS Board of Trustees, in 2006, the school nominated Shoshana to attend the United Jewish Federation (UJF) Behrend Institute for Leadership, from which she graduated in 2007.

She is also a past President and current Treasurer of United Jewish Federation (UJF) of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, and last year served as Interim Executive Director of the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County. A member of Temple Sinai in Stamford, Shoshana also frequently attends services at Congregation Beth El in Norwalk. She is a past member of Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedord Corners, New York, where she served on the Board of Trustees and chaired the year-long Torah B’Yadi project that involved close to 1,000 congregants and resulted in the writing of a Sefer Torah.

Shoshana is a member of the Board of Directors of United Israel Appeal, where she currently serves on the executive board as Secretary; of ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America), for which she previously served as Vice President of Development; and of Women of Reform Judaism, and was a member of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Global Emerging Leaders Forum. In addition, she was a delegate to the most recent World Jewish Congress.

The daughter of Rabbi Stanley and Resa Davids, whom she calls her “mentors” and credits with teaching her about the importance of service to the Jewish community, Shoshana attended Heritage Academy, a Jewish day school in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. As a result of that experience, she says, “I sought the same community and foundation for my children.”

She found it at Bi-Cultural Day School. And then some.

“The quality of the education, both secular and Jewish at BCDS drew us to Stamford,” she notes. “It would be an understatement to say that BCDS changed the direction of our lives, all for the good. I learned from BCDS, just as my children did.”

Reflecting on her service to the Jewish community, Shoshana adds, “My favorite part of Jewish communal work is when an organization is involved in transformational change. BCDS is always making sure that it is changing, growing, evolving and meeting the needs of our children today and into the future.”

A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Tufts University College of Engineering, Shoshana was a solo practitioner in the field of computer and Internet transactions and general intellectual property. Previously, she worked as an attorney in New York City at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom and then at Morrison & Foerster.

Today, Shoshana Dweck focuses her energies on Jewish not-for-profit work and on raising her three children — Olivia, 17, and Joshua, 16, who attend American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina (Olivia heads for Johns Hopkins University in the fall), and Gabriel, 14, a student at Byram Hills High School.

RACHEL SARAH ROTHMAN
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD

(photo credit:  Aviva Maller Photography)

For Rachel Sarah Rothman, Bi-Cultural Day School is a family affair.

The recipient of the BCDS Community Service Award, Rachel attended Bi-Cultural from kindergarten through 8th grade. After graduating from BCDS in 2002, she went on to Solomon Schechter of Westchester High School. Her sister, Hillary, followed in her BCDS footsteps, graduating from the school in 2005, and her brother, Michael, attended the school though second grade.

For Rachel, Jewish community leadership is not only an interest she developed while receiving an excellent Jewish education, it is also something that runs in her blood. In addition to his active involvement at BCDS, Rachel’s father, Howard, is currently a member of the BCDS Board of Trustees and serves on the school’s Finance Committee. He also served as president of Congregation Agudath Shalom for several years; Rachel’s mother, Gayle, served on the board of the Stamford Jewish Community Center.

As a family, the Rothmans are sponsors of the Michael D. Rothman CIDP Research Fund to combat CIDP, a debilitating autoimmune form of neuropathy from which Rachel’s brother, Michael, suffers. In 2012, the family formed Team Mike and hosted their first annual run called “The Mike Mile” to raise awareness of the disease.

Rachel has utilized the values instilled within her by her school and family, blending it with her own intelligence, skill and enthusiasm to distinguish herself in an area of Jewish communal life that resonates within her very deeply. As a teen, Rachel participated as an athlete in the 2004 JCC Maccabi Games in Boston and later served as a Maccabi Games coach and assistant delegation head. In 2016, when the JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest were held in Stamford, Rachel was appointed the event’s Director, in which capacity she took on the monumental task of organizing and managing the more than 1,500 young Jewish athletes and artists who participated in the Games. Rachel literally built an army of community volunteers to successfully house, feed, transport and manage what became a village of athletes and artists.

“Bi-Cultural helped set the foundation for who I am as a person today,” she says. “The early lessons of tikkun olam and giving back to the community were instilled at such a young age from my teachers and community members. I am so thankful to BCDS for not just teaching me important academics, but also the most valuable life lessons that still stay with me today."

A 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she served as president of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority, in 2013, Rachel earned an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She subsequently worked for more than five years at Vision Financial Markets, a family business.

RABBI HAROLD TZVI BERNSTEIN
ALUMNI AWARD

When Rabbi Harold Tzvi Bernstein contemplates what he calls his “life-long member-ship in the Stamford Jewish community,” he is amazed by “how Bi-Cultural Day School has been at the center of my spiritual and professional development for so many years.”

To be sure, to describe BCDS as being at the center of Rabbi Bernstein’s life is almost an understatement. Certainly, to call the recipient of this year’s Alumni Award a BCDS graduate is accurate and important — after all, that’s where the seeds of his love for community were first sown — but it tells only a fraction of the story.

Rabbi Bernstein’s association with BCDS runs long and deep. It began with his years as a BCDS student and continued during the years his three children, Leora, Robbie and Franni, attended the school.

Along the way, Rabbi Bernstein has served the school as a board member, an execu-tive committee member and a member of the Judaic studies middle school faculty, as well as the coordinator of the school’s adult education programs. In 2015, he was ap-pointed Dean of BCDS, in which capacity he directs the school’s development efforts, supervises operations, is part of the educational team and serves as the school Rabbi.

But Rabbi Bernstein’s commitment to Stamford’s Jewish community and his active in-volvement in Jewish communal life are not restricted to the school on High Ridge Road.

A lifelong resident of Stamford, he and his wife, Darona, both served Congregation Agudath Shalom as synagogue Presidents. He is also the past Chairman of the Board of Yeshiva Bais Binyomin, a former board member of the Stamford Jewish Community Center, and a past member of the Stamford UJF allocations committee.

Still, despite his tireless efforts on behalf of the broader Stamford Jewish community, it is his unbreakable ties to Bi-Cultural Day School that have brought his professional life full circle back to BCDS.

“I am humbled by the realization that so many of my most important personal relation-ships- friends, clients, mentors, teachers, Rabbis and inspirational figures became a part of my life as a result of my connection to BCDS.”

A graduate of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Bernstein earned a law degree from Cardozo School of Law, Rabbinic Ordination from YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and is currently completing a masters degree in Jewish Education from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

JENNY FUCHS
YOUNG LEADERSHIP AWARD

When Jenny Fuchs returned home to her native Stamford 16 years ago, it was hard to believe she had ever been gone. The reason: Jenny had barely unpacked her family’s bags when she immersed herself in the Jewish communal life of her hometown, becoming one of its most ardent volunteers.

Today, Jenny is not only an integral part of Stamford’s Jewish and general communities, she is also one of its most skillful and committed leaders.

It is no wonder Jenny Fuchs is recipient of this year’s Young Leadership Award.

When she first arrived back in Stamford, Jenny became actively involved in the Stamford Jewish Community Center. She eventually served for four years as a member of the JCC’s Board of Directors, as well as president of both The Center Women and the JCC Sara Walker Nursery School Steering Committee. Recently, the Fuchs family participated in the JCC-sponsored Tzahal Shalom program — an experience she describes as “amazing.”

When Jenny became a Bi-Cultural parent in 2006, she turned her volunteer attentions to the school on High Ridge Road. Among her many activities at BCDS, she is especially noted for role as co-president of the Parent’s Association, which she was instrumental in successfully restructuring, along with BCDS parent Maria Reicin — whom Jenny affectionately refers to as her “partner in crime.”

“Bi-Cultural has been a second home to my family since my oldest son started there in 2006,” says Jenny. “From the second we walked through the door, we were welcomed into the community with open arms. I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved and a part of such a special place. Volunteering my time has enabled me to have closer connection to my children’s world and has also provided me with the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I am a better person for having given my time to BCDS.”

In addition to her work on behalf of the Jewish community, Jenny is an active volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Hospice of Fairfield County. She is also co-chair of the Westhill High School Governance Council and is actively involved in other PTO-sponsored activities at Westhill.

At home, Jenny is the full-time coach and mom of four boys — Noah, a sophomore at Westhill and BCDS graduate, Benji, a BCDS eighth-grader and her twins Travis and Justin, BCDS fourth-graders. She is supported in her volunteer efforts by her nursery school sweetheart, Greg — her husband, as well as the man she calls her “rock.”

Professionally, Jenny works for two entertainment companies, booking entertainment for events of all sizes.

JOE NEALON
JANE SHOZTIC TEACHER’S AWARD

When Joe Nealon looks around at all the young faces in his physical fitness classes at Bi-Cultural Day School, he sees an exquisite garden just waiting to be cultivated.

“Every child is like a flower,” says the recipient of this year’s Jane Schoztic Memorial Award. “As educators, if we provide them with the essential tools and encouragement to grow, they will blossom into their own unique and blessed creation.”

That nurturing educational philosophy has guided Joe ever since he arrived at Bi-Cultural nearly 12 years ago — and it continues to guide him both as a classroom teacher and as coordinator of the school’s after-school classes and athletic programs. In fact, he often takes his philosophy out of the classroom and on the road — all the way to the golf course (a favorite hang-out!) where he is an instructor with the New York Special Olympics golf program.

All in all, Joe’s teaching skills have earned him the considerable admiration and affec-tion of students and staff alike. A graduate of Duquesne University, Joe holds a graduate degree in physical education and sports pedagogy from Manhattanville College. He is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical, Recreation and Dance, a national organization that provides assistance and support for teaching professionals.

A resident of Hawthorne, New York, he and his wife, Melinda, a special education teacher, are the parents of two-year-old Luke, who attends the BCDS nursery.

When he’s not enjoying time with family — or playing ice hockey or golf — he’s happy to be in the classroom. Says Joe: “I am fortunate and thankful to pass along to our students the necessary physical educational skills and programs that will allow them to flourish and enjoy their time at Bi-Cultural Day School.”