Letitia James, Democratic Contender for State Attorney General, Presents Award to CEO Stamm at Fundraiser for The Chelsea Shul
CEO and President Joseph Stamm was on a short list of distinguished honorees at the 2018 Gala Dinner Celebration of The Chelsea Shul in Manhattan, held at the synagogue on October 4. As winner of the Visitors Program Award, CEO Stamm received a double honor when Letitia James, New York City’s Public Advocate and newly elected Democratic nominee for State Attorney General, interrupted her busy campaign schedule to attend the cocktail hour and personally toast him and their longstanding friendship.
“I am honored and privileged to be at The Chelsea Shul,” the candidate for AG told the gathering of 250, as she thanked them for their support and her “decisive victory” in the recent primaries. Noting that she grew up in the heart of the Jewish community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, she received a round of laughter and applause when she proudly called herself “an honorary member” of the Shul, “where years ago I was honored to light the menorah—a flame that is still going strong.”
Turning her attention to the man of the hour, Ms. James said she was “happy to help honor Joe Stamm” who “had believed in her and supported her through 20 years of public service—and despite the voices of political rivals and critics.” She then quoted a guiding principle in her life, which she said Mr. Stamm and members of the shul embodied.
“You serve others before you serve yourself,” she said. “If there were more friends like Joe Stamm in the world, we’d have a more perfect society.”
Former New York State Governor and NYCHSRO/MedReview board member David A. Paterson followed PA James at the mike and acknowledged her as the “next Attorney General.” With typical humor, he said he had lost his written speech, adding that she seemed to have “found it and delivered it very well.”
On a serious note, Paterson added, “Joe Stamm is a mentor to all people, and most of all, he is my friend.”
The party continued in the sanctuary of the synagogue with a sit-down dinner of 25 tables appointed with crystal goblets and centerpieces of tall candelabra adorned with flowers. While a duet played Vivaldi on stringed instruments, a team of servers quietly provided a three-course dinner, and the Shul’s rabbi, Chezky Wolff, presented the evening’s awards.
After speaking about giving back as the “way to true happiness,” Rabbi Wolff introduced Joe Stamm as “a wonderful mensch”—a decent, upright person that he has been “honored to get to know” through the synagogue’s Visitors Program. A community service provided by the congregation, the program offers kosher meals, accommodations and a place of worship to out-of-town guests during the Sabbath. In 2015, Mr. Stamm first availed himself of this hospitality one weekend when he needed to be in walking distance from Madison Square Garden to meet Pope Francis as a guest of Tish James.
Finding a room and kosher food is not a problem in New York, the honoree told the audience, but he was concerned about where he would pray on Friday night and Saturday morning. His key staff member, Maurice Bortz, intervened by reaching out to Rabbi Wolff.
“Subsequently I learned that the Rabbi does this all the time,” Mr. Stamm said. “The Shul has become a beacon of light for Jewish visitors from around the world including diplomats, students, tourists, and out-of-town families of patients at Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel and other New York hospitals.”
“Indeed,” he concluded, “Rabbi Wolff should be the recipient of this award.”
Short of that, he urged the audience to help Rabbi Wolff realize his dream of restoring the historic sanctuary, Hebrew school and community center through generous contributions to the building fund.
Mr. Stamm also acknowledged his wife Anne and their five children, including their three sons who attended the event. Executive VP Helen Mutchler; VP, Legal Affairs and City Contracts, Robert A. Rosenblum; Medical Director Dr. Edward L. Saxer, Jr.; and Sergei Slitinskiy, Director of Information Technology, joined them at the head table. A second table of key staff sat nearby.