The United States has a variety of Halls of Fame, HoF. There is the Baseball HoF in Cooperstown, upstate New York. There are HoF for basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts. Football's HoF is in Canton, Ohio. (Hockey's HoF is in Canada.) Soccer has its HoF (which I visited in upstate New York, but it is reorganizing.) On a different tack, there is Cleveland's Rock and Roll HoF. Other musical genres have their HoF, as do aviation, show business, inventors, toys, radio, circuses, and so on. Individual states and cities within the US have their local HoF.

And now Brooklyn's Jewish community has a Hall of Fame. Following in the footsteps of the Bronx Jewish community, which had its first slate of inductees installed back in June, the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative (BJHI) held a joyous, energetic and touching ceremony to induct its first "class" in the newly designated Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame.

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The illustrious group included noted lawyer, scholar and writer Alan Dershowitz; singer/performer Julie Budd; former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman; Senator Charles Schumer; his wife Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor of the City University of New York; veteran actor Fyvush Finkel; businessman and philanthropist Charles Diker; labor rights activist Henry Foner; businessman and community activist Joseph Shamie; former Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz; rabbis Joseph Potasnik and Mordechai Tokarsky. The event was hosted by performer/playwright Jake Ehrenreich.


Some of these people are very well known, while others are more obscure and known to particular groups. But they have all made important contributions to Brooklyn, to the Jewish community, and many have made significant contributions to the society at large. This inaugural event was well attended and held at the beautiful Brooklyn Historical Society, a museum and library in downtown Brooklyn.

I was involved in a few aspects of this because I am a member of the committee, the BJHI. I also did some media outreach to publicize it, and during the ceremony I took many photographs and also accompanied one of the awardees, Mr. Diker, to the podium. (I was a bit nervous about that.) The evening's festivities were rather enjoyable and well paced because while there were many speeches made (by the inductees, by a few local politicians, and the three key organizers of the event, namely Howard Teich, Sarina Roffe and Joseph Dorinson) everyone kept the flow of speech moving (aka no one spoke too long).

In fact, one of the most endearing parts of the ceremony was when all the inductees sat in front and took turns briefly answering a few common questions. I watched as they all listened to each other eagerly, along with audience members. Mr. Finkel and Mr. Foner, both in their 90s, were so dignified and grateful.

It's important to acknowledge the accomplishments of remarkable members of the Jewish community, and not only to congratulate individuals for a job well done. We also hope that other people look up to these people and hope to emulate them. (And one of the inductees said humorously that maybe some people in the audience wondered "why aren't I up there?") Similar to school graduation ceremonies, which include speeches and are meant to celebrate and inspire, we hope that this newest Hall of Fame will be an inspiration and be worthy of history. And the catered food served there was quite good as well! You know we Jews love to have some good cooking included wherever we kvell.

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