Pinchas Berger and Hindy Kisch enjoy the volunteer recognition event.

Pinchas Berger and Hindy Kisch enjoy the volunteer recognition event.

The math is simple. When over 300 Engage participants involve themselves in community outreach, they can volunteer more than 5,000 combined hours in one year. The work of Engage volunteers was celebrated at the fourth annual Engage Volunteer Recognition event hosted at JCC Manhattan on June 5. Over 80 volunteers attended and were honored for their service. A special shout-out goes to Margie Stern, leader of the volunteer engagement and orientation team, and her amazing co-volunteers. From the beginning, when participants picked up strands of Mardi Gras beads corresponding to their number of years of active service in Engage, to the program of events, this was a very special occasion. 

The evening was kicked off by Rabbi Brian Fink, director of UJA-Federation of New York's Engage Jewish Service Corps at JCC Manhattan. He opened the program with an amazing video put together by members of the JCC Manhattan marketing department highlighting the work of Engage. The video was an inspiration to all who attended to continue and expand the work. Click here to watch it and please share it with friends and family who would be interested in Engage. The program continued with remarks by Rabbi Joy Levitt, JCC Manhattan's executive director, and Susan Kranberg, Engage community organizer.

The big surprise of the evening was the recognition of 23 volunteers who have each completed at least 100 hours of service through Engage. They were recognized individually by Susan, and each received a framed certificate from the the City of New York Mayoral Service Recognition Program, signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Special thanks to Ellen Hochstein, who herself volunteered for a record 1,365 hours.

What a wonderful way to celebrate another year of Engage success!


 Fred Reichman, Sam Bliman, and Bob Grossweiner (left to right) volunteering with City Harvest

Fred Reichman, Sam Bliman, and Bob Grossweiner (left to right) volunteering with City Harvest

Fred Reichman was one of the original members of the Engage Men's Group, which started approximately five years ago, and he enjoys the passionate volunteerism of the group.

When Fred joined the group, he looked forward to interacting socially with other men of a similar age, while doing good works for others throughout the city. The social aspect of the Men’s Group has included going out for dinner together, visits to a comedy club, going to movies and baseball games, and other activities.

Fred is very involved with the Engage Group’s Tech Soup program at JASA Club 76 every Friday. The program provides technical assistance to seniors who want to learn or improve their skills on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

In conjunction with other Men’s Group members, Fred has worked with New York Cares, a nonprofit agency that serves as a clearinghouse for volunteering at various events, such as at the Javits Center Fancy Food shows, where he is involved with sorting and labeling kosher products for distribution to many organizations around the city. New York Cares also provides lunches and interacts with people in need in other ways, including planting seeds at Wards Island for their residential community.

Devoted to meditation, Fred has been a participant in JCC's Makom Havurah group for four or five years as well. The group meets twice a month for two hours, from October through May, combining meditation and discussion to explore many meaningful subjects. He also attends Makom's daily meditation sessions once or twice a week at the JCC.

As if all of these activities were not more than enough, Fred also volunteers as a tour guide one day a week at the American Museum of Natural History. As a kid, Fred loved going to the museum with his father and brother, especially to see the dinosaurs and the Hayden Planetarium. The original Art Deco-style planetarium and its very special dome were torn down to make room for the much larger Rose Center for Earth and Space, which opened to the public in February 2000. It was the beauty and functionality of this new Rose Center that ignited Fred’s interest in training to become a tour guide, which he did in 2001. Fred’s tours usually cover four or five of the 45 exhibition halls in the museum. As Fred says to the visitors on his tours, “You would have to spend a week with me if you wanted to see all the highlights in the museum.”

Before retiring, Dr. Fred worked as a school psychologist in the public school system and with adolescents and adults in a private practice.

Clearly, Fred Reichman is a person who loves being involved in endeavors of great value to others, especially those in need.



Gita Weinrauch Kaufman discovered a packet of family letters written to her parents by relatives stranded in Europe in the years leading up to World War II, stacked in a drawer in their apartment. The voices from those letters come hauntingly to life through Kaufman's narrative captured in Shadows From My Past, the documentary she created with her husband, Curt. The film includes interviews with prominent figures such as Kurt Waldheim, Ronald Lauder, and Simon Wiesenthal.

The film was showcased at the Engage Women’s Group program in January, which was attended by over 40 participants. A lively talkback with Ms. Kaufman led to a group discussion that focused on the relevancy of the of the past in light of today’s current events.  

The program was one example of how the Engage Women's Group engages its members. If you want to learn about other upcoming events and opportunities, read the article by Rena Solomon about what is coming in the near future.