2017 Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards

The Chai Society is proud to continue in its support of Wagner College’s Holocaust Education & Programming Center and its mission to educate future generations about prejudice, anti-Semitism and racism as well as create a space for exhibits, learning and reflection.

View the 2017 Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards Dinner Journal

This year’s Wagner College Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards dinner honored the following community members:

Rachel Roth, Special Recognition Award
Rabbi Gerald Sussman, Outstanding Community Member Award
Melissa Rabinovich, Outstanding Community Member Award
Mark Weissman, Outstanding Community Member Award
Julia Loria ’17, Outstanding Student Award

About the Honorees:

Rachel Roth – Special Recognition Award

The teenage daughter of a well-respected journalist, Rachel Roth grew up in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. After the Nazi occupation of Poland, in September 1939, her father was quickly targeted and forced to flee to Palestine through Russia. Read more about Rachel Roth.


Rabbi Gerald Sussman – Outstanding Community Member Award

Many things influenced Rabbi Sussman to the Rabbinate: his career, and helping to strengthen his community. He felt deeply that Judaism pointed towards a world in which things were not what they seem and that great truths lay beyond appearances. Read more about Rabbi Gerald Sussman

Melissa Rabinovich -Outstanding Community Member Award

Raised on Staten Island, Melissa is very active in the community. Melissa serves on the Board of Directors at On Your Mark, the Seton Foundation for Learning, the Iron Hills Civic Association, Chromosome 22 Central and the advisory board of Staten Island Tech. She is the former President of the Parent Guild at Seton and a member of the Borough President’s Council for People with Special Needs. Melissa is also active on the special needs committee at the Jewish Community Center. Read more about Melissa Rabinovich.

Mark Weissman –
Outstanding Community Member Award


Mark has always been interested in teaching music and theater in a socio-political context, exploring how the world around artists influenced their work. Last fall, Rachel Roth visited with middle school students at Staten Island Academy and shared her experience as a child of the Holocaust. Her visit inspired Mark to create “Butterflies and Children”, an exploration of music, literature and art that developed from children of the Holocaust. Read more about Mark Weissman.

Julia Loria ’17 – Outstanding Student Award

Julia Elisa Loria is a dual citizen (French American), with a major in International Business and a minor in Spanish. She is also a Third Generation Holocaust survivor and was an intern of the Wagner College Holocaust Education Center. Read more about Julia Loria.