Biographical Information for our Honorees
Helen Drogin - President Emerita Award
Ivy & Dan Greenburg - Service Award
Wendy & Frank Wetchler - Tzedakah Award
Julie & Jeff Levitt - Young Leadership Award
First Woman President at Merrick Jewish Centre
For the first time in its 51 year history, the Merrick Jewish Centre, 225 Fox Boulevard, will install a woman president. Helen B. Drogin, a member of the congregation for the past 23 years, will be installed at a ceremony Saturday, September 19 at 9 p.m.
Mrs. Drogin has served as chairperson of the centre's school board, a director, a member of the Executive Committee, and is a past vice president.
A reception will follow the ceremony, and a midnight Selichot service will be held.
(This article was originally published in Merrick Life on Thursday, September 17, 1981.)
Helen would like to honor her dear husband Jesse, of blessed memory, who was named Father of the Year by the Merrick Jewish Centre in June, 1981. They are parents of David, Carol and Amy.
Both Ivy and Dan were raised right here in Nassau County, not far from Merrick – Ivy in East Meadow, and Dan in Long Beach and Oceanside.
We met in 1968 through a blind date set up by our very close friend and fellow congregant, Anne Strassler, Ivy’s sorority sister at Hofstra. A few months later, Ivy and Dan travelled to Woodstock together where, in the midst of that stormy festival, they realized they were meant for each other. In 1971, we got engaged in the Grand Canyon, and the rest follows....
After graduating from Hofstra in 1972, Ivy taught special education classes in the Mineola School District for fifteen years. During that time, she co-authored a series of mathematic workbooks for children with special needs which continues to be published today. She then spent the next fifteen years teaching first and third grade. She holds an education supervisory certificate which helped her to obtain a position supervising education students at Molloy college when she retired. She also obtained a certificate to teach yoga and taught chair and gentle hatha yoga for ten years. She follows a daily yoga and meditation practice.
A Lehigh graduate, Dan began his career in Information Technology in 1970 working for Nassau County as a computer programmer while going to Brooklyn Law School in the evenings. After obtaining a law degree in 1974, he practiced law for 4 years and then decided to return to the IT industry.
In 1989, he founded The Allegiance Group providing high quality IT programmers and analysts to its clients. The company grew quickly to become an organization with an internal staff of 20 employees supporting over 120 technical consultants who worked at client sites throughout the tri-state area. In 1995, Allegiance was selected by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the United States. In 2002, Mr. Greenburg sold Allegiance and is currently a mostly retired consultant helping small growing businesses get to the next level.
Upon retiring, Ivy became the Chairman of the Board of Care To Knit, a non-profit organization which provides hand knit and crocheted items such as scarves, hats and blankets to those in need in the tri state area as well as Florida and California. This organization has donated over 50,000 items in its 11 years of existence.
Being happily retired, Ivy has time to engage in activities she enjoys such as walking, working out, playing golf, cooking, gardening, attending theater, reading and babysitting for her two grandchildren once a week. She feels that there are never enough minutes in the day.
Along with Ivy, Dan is an active volunteer for the My Own Book Fund, a unique organization that rings third grade children in need to local bookstores where they are each given $50 to purchase their very own books. He also serves on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to mentoring children from single parent homes.
We have a history at the Merrick Jewish Center filled with fond memories. Over the 30+ years of membership, our children, David and Seth, both attended Merrick Jewish Center Hebrew School and became Bar Mitzvah. Dave had his auf ruf here and our granddaughter, Hailey, was named at MJC. Ivy became closer to MJC as she studied to become a B’nai Mitzvah at age 60. She knew it was the right time. She became close with the women in her study group and maintains friendships with these wonderful women today. Her belief in Judaism deepened through her studies and continues to grow through the numerous adult education classes taught by Rabbi Klein and Rabbi Tilles, as well as The Lifelong Learning classes she attends.
Ivy’s participation in synagogue activities include being a charter member of the Chesed Committee, tutoring children in the Merrick Jewish community with learning difficulties, delivering Shabbat meals, and taking synagogue members to the doctor; participation in Bubbe’s bakers; membership on the Gala Committee and the annual Merrick Jewish Center Golf Committee; and membership on Rabbi Klein’s Book Committee.
Dan has served on the Board and Executive Board as Recording Secretary for the last 4 years. He has been involved in many committees including the Employment Network Committee, Nominating Committees and Chesed Committee. He currently co-chairs the Long Range Planning Committee and the Governance Committee. Once a month he delivers lasagna made by the MJC Chesed culinary team to a food kitchen in Freeport.
We both feel that our connection to MJC deepened significantly when we travelled to Israel in 2007 with Rabbi and Betty Klein and a few dozen of our fellow congregants, many of whom have become close friends. Encouraging us to reconnect to our traditions and to Israel, the trip inspired us to become more involved in the synagogue’s rich spiritual, cultural and social activities. We have since taken two more trips with the Klein’s and MJC congregants – to Eastern Europe and then back to Israel.
It was right after the 2007 trip that we found out that Dan’s great uncle, Ephraim Ish Kishor, was a delegate to the First Zionist Convention in 1896. This discovery further strengthened our resolve to become more active in the MJC community. Wanting to reconnect with Jewish tradition that Dan recalled from childhood, we started holding regular Friday night Shabbat dinners, rotating them among our home and the homes of our mothers and Dan’s aunt when she was alive, frequently inviting friends and relatives to join in a warm, sumptuous meal.
Thank you so much for this honor. It is a truly meaningful milestone in our lives for which we are very grateful. We feel so blessed with a wonderful family and friends, and to be part of this amazing Jewish community.
Mazel Tov to all of our fellow honorees!
Wendy and Frank appreciate this wonderful honor. As members for more than 25 years, the MJC has been a significant part of their Jewish life. Wendy and Frank’s strong connection to the MJC is a testament to the synagogue's wide-ranging appeal given their very different Jewish upbringing.
Wendy and Frank were raised on Long Island. Wendy grew up in Rockville Centre with her parents Joan and Norman Tauscher and her sister Stacey. Frank grew up in Plainview with his parents Alice and Herb and two brothers, Jon and Ben. Wendy and Frank’s mothers have been friends ever since going to summer camp together. Wendy attended Frank’s Bar Mitzvah as a family friend but they didn’t start dating until after they graduated from college. After they were married, they lived in NYC. Wendy graduated with an MBA in finance and worked in commercial banking and on Wall Street. Frank is a CPA and worked as a consultant for a big eight accounting firm before enjoying a long career in the equity securities business.
In 1986, they moved to Bellmore where they had two children, Brian and Daniel. Wendy joined a playgroup at MJC shortly after Brian was born in 1987. Some of the women she met at the play group have remained her closest friends. In 1991, they moved to Merrick where they made a traditional kosher home. Brian and Daniel attended Hebrew School and became a Bar Mitzvah at the MJC. As parents they tried to instill in their children a love for Jewish tradition and Israel. Brian was Bar Mitzvahed in Israel and Daniel traveled to Israel on Birthright. In 2014, Wendy and Frank were overjoyed when Brian married Lisa. In March, they welcomed their first grandchild, Natalie Scot Wetchler. Their hearts are just bursting with love!
Wendy was Co-President of the PTA for several years while Brian and Daniel were in Hebrew School. She has served on various committees throughout the years including the redesign of the MJC website and the hiring of Rabbi Tilles. She is currently on the Capital Endowment Campaign Committee and the 2017 Assistant Rabbi Search Committee. She has also just started her first term on MJC’s Board of Directors. Frank served as a member of the MJC Board of Directors for eight years and was a vice president of MJC for two years. Frank also co-chaired the campaign committee for MJC’s Center for Jewish Life. Wendy and Frank are active members of AIPAC and also support UJA.
Wendy and Frank want to express their deep appreciation to Rabbi Klein for his friendship and inspiration over the years. The Wetchlers are grateful to be the recipients of this year’s Tzedakah Award and want to congratulate their co-honorees for all of their hard work and dedication to the MJC.
Julie and Jeff Levitt are both longtime residents of the Bellmore-Merrick area. Julie was raised in North Bellmore with her parents Barbara and Martin Flisser and sister Laurie. Julie and her family were members of Temple Beth-El in North Bellmore and later Suburban Temple in Wantagh. Julie was raised with strong Jewish and family values and her family was very involved with both shuls they belonged to. Julie attended SUNY Oneonta and graduated in 1998 with a degree in teaching. She obtained her Master’s degree in 2001 from Hofstra and has been a teacher for 18 years.
Jeff was raised in Merrick with parents Carol and Steven and brother Robert and sister Audrey. Jeff and his family were members of Congregation Ohav Shalom in Merrick. Jeff was also raised with strong family and Jewish values. Jeff began college in Florida, ultimately earning his Bachelor’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology in 1995. He has been working in the purchasing department at MSC Industrial Supply Company for the last 16 years.
Julie and Jeff met in 2000 through mutual friends. At the time, they coincidentally lived just a mile apart from each other in North Bellmore. Julie and Jeff were engaged in September 2001 and married in July 2002. They lived together in Wantagh, North Merrick, and finally settled down in Bellmore where they have lived for the last 11 years. They are blessed with two children, Alexandra and Jack.
After several years being unaffiliated, Julie and Jeff joined the Merrick Jewish Centre in 2012 where they quickly got involved in several different aspects of the shul, including the Ultimate Passover Challenge (part Aleph and part Bet), Membership, Chesed, the Gala Committee, Family Programming, The Whole Megillah, and the Catering Committee. They have often volunteered their time and have been working on a new project aimed at Raising the Bar for B’nai Mitzvah Projects. Julie has been on the school board for three years and Jeff has been a member of the board of directors for three years as well.
Julie and Jeff enjoy the beach, traveling, and spending time with family, often doing all three at the same time. They are avid cruisers and enjoy island hopping in the Caribbean. Everyone in the family is a passionate Mets fan, often heading to Citifield to enjoy a game. They love making the holidays for their families and friends, often hosting more than 20 people for brisket and turkey. They have instilled their love of the Merrick Jewish Centre into Alexandra and Jack, who have become fixtures at the shul as well. They are active participants in the Shabbat Alive program, and shortly Alexandra will begin lessons for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah in April 2018.
The Levitts are honored to receive the Young Leadership Award for 2017 and want to extend their congratulations to the other honorees.