Hillel at the College of Staten Island will be holding their annual Kavod Circle Cocktail Reception this weekend at the Staten Island Museum, honoring several members of the CSI community who helped ease the school’s and community’s transition through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally held each year, the Kavod Circle Cocktail Reception was suspended for the past two years due to the pandemic. Kavod means “honor” in Hebrew, and this year’s event serves to honor those who are of exemplary service to college students on Staten Island, and this year’s collection of honorees are those who helped the College and community through the pandemic specifically. Judge Philip Straniere, Amy Stempler, Marilyn Zayfert, Brenda Lazar, and Fortune Cohen will be honored at the event, which will be held Sunday, May 1, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. There is no charge to attend the event, but solicitations will be made on behalf of Hillel at the College of Staten Island.

According to Amy Posner, Executive Director of Hillel, this year’s marquee event at the Staten Island Museum will be used to honor dedicated people on and off-campus who have been selfless advocates and champions for students in what was largely a remote learning environment over the past two years. “Each year the Board of Directors of Hillel at CSI selects members of our community who have given of themselves to make a real difference for the College, for Hillel, and for Staten Island,” Posner said. “There is a quote from the ancient text, “Ethics of the Fathers,” where Rabbi Eliezer said, ‘Let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your own.’ This event helps us honor the efforts made by others that helps us all individually.”

The Honorable Judge Philip Straniere served as Hillel Board Chairperson, steering the organization through the pandemic, and has established a scholarship program in honor of his late wife, Jennifer, a member of the College’s Department of Performing and Creative Arts. Marilyn Zayfert, President of illumiNETDigital Marketing, was instrumental in public relations and social media development for Hillel during the pandemic. Amy Stempler, CSI’s Associate Dean and Chief Librarian, was a critical resource for students as Hillel’s faculty advisor during the pandemic. Macaulay Honors College student Fortune Cohen has served as President of the Hillel group, while Brenda Lazar, a Hillel alumna, has helped navigate the organization to stay connected to students during the pandemic. All will be honored at the reception on Sunday, which will feature words from CSI Interim President Timothy G. Lynch and bestselling author and guest speaker Lisa Scottoline.

CSI’s Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish campus life, has been providing students with community support, spiritual growth, mental health and food insecurity resources, leadership development, career connect services, and learning opportunities since 2002. The organization holds a proud record of social activism and leadership through core Jewish values of repairing the world, mutual responsibility, and acts of kindness. Hillel at CSI is a part of the Multifaith Center at CSI, serving students as a partner organization.

“We are truly thrilled to be able to have this event in person once again,” Posner explained. “As these past years of the pandemic have been challenging in so many ways, we are grateful for the opportunity to get together again to renew our commitment to supporting our CSI students.​”

Those who wish to RSVP for the event can do so through email.