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Pillars of the Community

The Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center is pleased to announce that the 2020 Annual Pillars of the Community Award winners are Debbie and Jeff Cohen, Lauren and Bob Finkle and Donna and Lee Rosen. The prestigious Pillars of the Community Awards recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center and/or the Jewish Community at-large through education, service, and acts of kindness.

The original event date had been planned for April 19 however, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details about how the award winners will be recognized will be announced in the near future.  

Debbie and Jeff Cohen have been married for 28 years. They are the proud parents of Jessica and Ashley, who grew up at the Albany JCC. The Cohen’s credit their JCC experience for leading them on the path to support Jewish and secular not-for-profits in the community. Jeff was President of Ohav Shalom, and currently serves on the board of Capital Roots, the JCC and B'nai B'rith Foundation. Debbie's involvement includes leadership roles within the Guilderland School District, Ohav Shalom, the Elmwood Park Fire District and Capital Region Maccabi Games. Both are committed to making a positive difference in the community and continue to share their time and enthusiasm with many organizations. Debbie and Jeff are honored to receive this award and thank the entire community for this gracious recognition.
Lauren and Bob Finkle have been married for 36 years. They have three children, Josh, Justin and Jessica, and one grandchild, Reuben, with another one due in July. Lauren and Bob are members of Congregation Beth Emeth where Lauren has served on the Board of Trustees. Both are very committed to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York. Bob has served on the board, as campaign chair, and also as chairman. Lauren serves on their Women’s Philanthropy Board and volunteers with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy and TOV programs. Lauren also served as one of the co-chairs of the 2017 Capital Region Maccabi Games. Lauren and Bob are honored to receive the Pillars award.
Donna and Lee have been married for 30 years and have two children, David and Jamie. Donna has been an active member of the Congregation Beth Emeth community and a proud supporter of Lee’s as well as David and Jamie’s temple leadership roles. Lee was President of the Beth Emeth Board of Trustees and has and continues to be actively connected and involved with various committees. Lee was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center and continues to serve on several committees. Donna and Lee support many other philanthropic efforts in both the Jewish and greater Capital District communities such as Capital Rep Theatre and To Life and are honored to be recognized as Pillars of the community.


At the Pillars Event the following individuals will also be recognized: Paramjit Pannu is the recipient of the Susan Shpeen Memorial Award, Brady Rudnick is the recipient of the Herbert A. Applebaum Memorial Award and Kyra Shaffer is the recipient of the Lenore Bellin Memorial Award. 

Paramjit Kaur Pannu joined the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center’s preschool teaching staff in 1987. For the past 33 years, Parmjit has nurtured children’s social-emotional growth while teaching academics. She attributes her success to the wonderful colleagues she has had the pleasure of working with throughout the years. Paramjit received “The Helpful Teacher Award” and the “Children First Educator of the Week Award” given by ABC WTEN TV. According to Parmajit, “Teaching the children means so much to me and I have loved every moment of it.” Paramjit is a dedicated team member and cherishes the friendships she has made at the Center. She is honored and appreciates receiving the Susan Shpeen Award for doing work that is so important to her.

Brady Rudnick is a senior at Shaker High School and will be attending George Mason University in the fall. He became a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Israel. For his Bar Mitzvah project, Brady organized a basketball game to raise money towards building a playground at his elementary school in memory of a friend who passed away. He continued his Jewish education in Mifgash Jewish Community High School and later completed a fellowship at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Brady also participated in the 2017 Capital Region Maccabi Games and continues to serve the community.
Kyra Schaffer is a senior at Voorheesville High School and will be attending Binghamton University to study biology. Kyra attended preschool at the Albany JCC and continued her Jewish education at Congregation Beth Emeth where she became a Bat Mitzvah and was confirmed. She continues to participate in Jewish traditions with her family and serves the Jewish Community by delivering Yom Hashoah candles. Kyra also serves the larger community by volunteering in the Saratoga Hospital emergency room and participating in her school’s Key Club. In her free time. Kyra enjoys spending time with her friends, being outside and skiing.


Thank you to our Corporate Sponsors and Honorary Committee.

Honorary Committee*

Janet Andrade
Joyce Bookstein
Senator Neil D. Breslin
James Campbell
Rabbi Don Cashman
Laura Cohen and Mel Wilcove
Barry and Beth Davis
Marc Ehrlich
Jackie Eskin
Leslie and Barry Feinman
Arthur Finkle
Bruce and Lisa Finkle
Cynthia Freedman
Marvin and Sherry Freedman
Melissa Gardner
Mara Ginsberg and Jeffrey Pohl
Carolyn and Bruce Ginsburg
Karen and Mark Glaser
M. Sherry Gold
Danny Golderman
Kathy and Billy Golderman
Jill S. Goodman and Arthur N. Malkin
Carol and David Grand
Ronald and Melissa Greenberg
Amy and Michael Hoffman
Scott Hollander
Martina Hull
Alan Iselin and Renee Whitman
Lauren and Harold Iselin
Dick Kotlow
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York
LaMarche Safranko Law PLLC
Barry and Sara Lee Larner
Kellie Leinung
Nancy and Steven Lerner
Mark and Jane Levine
Michael and Melissa Lurie
Robyn and Ed Marinstein
The Honorable Daniel McCoy
Ruth Facher Mendel
James and Amy Milstein
Pioneer Bank/Anchor Agency
Jessica and Alan Richer
Deb and Joe Riitano
Judith Robins
David Rosen
Jamie Rosen
Karen Rosen
Mark Rosen and Leslie Newman
Bonnie and Stuart Rosenberg
Dorah Rosenzweig
Ellen Safranko
Danny Sanders 
Gavin and Karen Setzen
Rabbi Scott Shpeen
Rabbi Zalman Simon 
Ilene and Chip Stein
Ilene and Jerry Sykes
Herman Ungerman and Audrey Hoffman
Drs. H & A Wartenberg
Susan and Daniel Weinberg
Stanley Winter and Marcia Gingold
Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery - Edward Wladis, MD
David and Sue Wollner
Barbara Zaron

* as of March 15, 2020.

 Please contact Janet Andrade at for assistance.