Friends and Neighbors

Fundraiser at Alper JCC to help kids with special needs


Special to The Miami Herald

Judy Mezey and Lisa Leventhal will return as chairs for the 17th annual Special Needs Fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112th Ave. Their dedicated committee members include Suzie Fisher, Joanne Gentile, Renee Gershen, Teri Hirschberg, Lynn Katzen, Tobe Marmorstein, Sharon Samole, and Carol Stiefel.

Six have been involved with planning the event for 15 years or more.

This year the theme is “Music of the 60’s” featuring Jay Siegel and The Tokens. Siegel was on the original recording of the 1961 doo-wop hit single The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Proceeds from the concert, silent auction and gourmet dessert reception benefit the Alper JCC’s Shirley and Chester Paul Special Needs Program.

Mezey started the life cycle program 27 years ago for children who were often left out of socialization experiences such as birthday parties, play dates and club groups. The program was launched in 1990 and is thriving. There is a full summer camp and no-school holiday classes for children, ages four and up, with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. There are also programs for special needs teens and young adults. The fundraiser is a necessity to keep the programs going.

“This is a great evening,” Mezey said in a release. “The money that we raise supports the majority of this program throughout the year. It allows the kids to go on field trips…and also provides funding for scholarships.”

Tickets including the performance, silent auction and dessert reception are $65, $100, and $150 per person. For more information on the Alper JCC

Special Needs Program, or to purchase tickets, call 305-271-9000, ext. 238, or visit


Just after midnight on Feb. 3, 1943, the United States Army Transport Dorchester sunk in the icy North Atlantic Ocean after being hit 20 minutes earlier by a German submarine’s torpedo fire. The ship was about 100 miles from Narsarsuak, Greenland. Of the 902 men on board, only 230 survived.

On the transport were four Army Chaplains: Father John Washington, Roman Catholic; Reverend Clark Poling, Dutch Reformed; Rabbi Alexander Goode, Jewish;

and Rev. George Fox, Methodist. And according to survivor reports, the religious men sacrificed their lives to help save others.

As the story is told on, “The four chaplains found a deck box full of lifebelts and together started assisting the men who were without into the belts and overboard. Soon the box was empty. The Chaplains, one by one, removed their own lifebelts and gave them to men who had none. The Chaplains locked arms, sang and prayed for the men as the Dorchester sank with them on board.”

You can honor their selfless service at the 70th anniversary of the Four Chaplains from 2-4 p.m., Feb. 3 at Temple Beth David, 2625 SW Third Ave. in Miami.

The event is free and open to the public. There will be patriotic music by The Singing Miamians of Pinecrest, and a SOUTHCOM Color Guard ceremony. Refreshments will be served. For more write to or call 305-854-3911, ext. 200.

To read more visit Also be sure to sign up for the 11th annual Tribute to the Military 5K Run/Walk starting at 8 a.m., Feb. 24 at Merrick Park in Coral Gables. For details, and to register ahead of time, go to


The South Florida Writers Association will present notable Florida authors Eliot Kleinberg and Seth Bramson along with life coach Steve Liebowitz, and singer and poet Christine Pointer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 2 at Our Backyard Museum, 11701 NW 12th St., in Plantation. The public is invited.

Total cost for the conference, including lunch, is $30 for non-students and $20 for students. You can pay SFWA by check sent to Mort Laitner, 8679 SW 51 St., Cooper City, FL 33328 or by PayPal at


Experience new talent, get involved, and make friends at the next monthly luncheon of the New Neighbors Club of South Dade. The group has welcomed many new members in the past year and organizers hope to keep on growing this club.

Freddie Colloca, a new singer in pop music, will perform at the luncheon that starts with social hour at 11 a.m. on Feb. 13 at the Coral Gables Country Club, 997 N. Greenway Dr. in Coral Gables.

Colloca, 27, will perform contemporary music and popular ballads at the New Neighbors event. His singing has been compared to that of Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Antony, and Luis Miguel.

The luncheon cost is $25 and reservations are required. Deadline for reservations is 6 p.m., Feb. 7. Contact Rita Casagrande at 305-595-0213 or

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at

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