The Chai Society


Wagner College, founded in 1883, takes pride in the diversity of its students and its service to the community. Today, Wagner College continues to build on this longstanding commitment by recruiting students from all groups: religious, ethnic, racial, sexual, demographic, and cultural.  In 2004, Wagner College established the Chai Society, an organization dedicated to promoting Jewish culture and identity on the Wagner campus and within the surrounding communities with programming. We are proud to also support the establishment of Wagner College’s Holocaust Center whose mission is to educate future generations about prejudice, antisemitism and racism as well as create a space for exhibits, learning, and reflection.

The Chai Society is facilitated through the joint efforts of Wagner College’s Office of Institutional Advancement, the Chai Society Steering Committee, Hillel, and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Unger, assistant professor and director of urban programs at Wagner College.

Give Now to the Chai Society

Thank you to our 2019 Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards  E-Journal Ad Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Avis Family

Lucille and Jay Chazanoff

Aletta and Bob Diamond

Richmond University Medical Center

Bronze Sponsor

Northfield Bank

Full Screen Sponsors

Julie Cohen

Stephen Greenwald

David Hoffman, DDS

IDB Bank

Perla and Dick Kuhn

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Staten Island Advance

Susan and Jack Bender

Half Screen Sponsors

Rachel Borenstein

Jerome Grushkin

Jewish Community Center of SI

Marcia Klein

Menorah Chapels, Inc.

Linda and Jerry Mulnick

Ram Roth

Salmon Family

Nancy Tricorico

Linda and Alan Brill

Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards

The Chai Society is proud to continue in its support of Wagner College’s Holocaust 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 our 2017 award recipients

View photos from the 2017 dinner

The Chai Society is proud to continue in its support of Wagner College’s Holocaust 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 our 2018 award recipients

View photos from the 2018 dinner

David Sorkin, Monroe J. Klein ’66 Humanitarian Award

David Sorkin is the Executive Director of the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, one of Staten Island’s premier Social Service/ Recreational/ Educational and Cultural institutions serving over 40 thousand participants at over 30 locations. He has been in this position since January 2007. He has proudly worked at seven JCC’s across the United States and his career in the not-for profit sector has spanned over forty-four years.

He is currently the President of the Association of Jewish Community Center Professionals, Chair of the Business Council of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation and past chair and current board member of the Staten Island Not for Profit Association. He also services on the SI Tackling Youth Substance Steering Committee, chairs the Coalition of Organizations Active in Disaster and was appointed by Governor Cuomo as the Co-Chair of the NYS Rising Steering Committee.

Congressman Max Rose, Civic Leadership Award

An army veteran and former non-profit healthcare executive, Congressman Max Rose proudly serves New York’s 11th Congressional District, representing Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Upon being sworn in, Congressman Rose pledged to fight for Staten Island and South Brooklyn and focus on the transportation needs of his district, fighting the opioid epidemic, and rooting out corruption in Washington.

Congressman Rose currently serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security working to ensure our city and country are properly prepared to defend against any threats, while bringing fresh ideas and perspective to the Committee’s work. As a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, Congressman Rose also serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Serving in Afghanistan, and now as a member of the National Guard, Max has seen firsthand how our service members and veterans struggle when they return home and how steps must be taken to improve veterans’ healthcare and make sure they can seamlessly access the benefits they earned. As the only combat veteran with experience in the healthcare sector, Max brings a unique background to these critical discussions.

Max served as an active duty officer in Afghanistan from 2012-2013 and earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. Congressman Rose is Ranger-qualified and continues to serve in the National Guard and is the first post-9/11 combat veteran to represent New York City.

Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi, Spirit of Change Award

Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi, has been an active leader and volunteer with several community faith based organizations on Staten Island and throughout New York City for the past 15 years. He is the Vice President of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, which was founded in 1991. The Cultural Center serves the religious and educational needs of Staten Island’s Muslim community and promotes understanding and friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Imam Kukiqi serves as a preacher to the Islamic community and performs various religious services. He is the author of numerous books focused on the Islamic faith and is an Islamic studies teacher for the Miraj Islamic School in Tompkinsville. Imam Kukiqi served as Chaplin for Muslim students at Wagner College from 2011-2014.

He is a member of the New York City Commission of Religious Leaders Interfaith Advisory Clergy Group and a member of the Board of Directors for the Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island; The Mission of the Immaculate Virgin – Catholic Charities; Project Hospitality; The Virtual Enterprises International; the Cross Road Foundation; the Christopher Whitehouse Foundation; the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation and the Board of Directors of the University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of Staten Island.

Bea Victor, Courage Award

Bea Victor is the embodiment of the word “doer” – standing up for those who can’t for themselves and inspiring the community to make changes when she noticed a need. Bea’s childhood dream was to become a nurse and she fulfilled that dream, serving as a nurse in the U.S. Navy, taking care of soldiers during World War II. She joined the Navy because she wanted to do something to help the servicemen. She said, “As a Jew, I learned how our people were being slaughtered and I wanted to anything that I could to help overthrow those who were persecuting my people.” After completing her tour, she worked as a private duty nurse in numerous hospitals and several private practices.

Bea joined the JCC when she moved to Staten Island. Bea’s involvement at the “J” spans from being a Cub Scout leader to later helping develop their SeniorNet, a computer instruction class for adults. Bea was also instrumental in helping open one of the first group homes on the Island for individuals with developmental disabilities Bea has been recognized for her community involvement with a “Woman of Achievement” award from the Staten Island Advance and the senior Olympics that she brought to the Island is now affectionately known as “Beatrice Victor Senior Olympics” in her honor.

Ruth Kupperberg ’20, Next Generation Award

Ruth Kupperberg just completed her junior year at Wagner College. She is a Theatre Performance Major and a Holocaust and Human Rights Minor. Ruth will be the first student at Wagner to hold the honor of graduating with this minor. She is currently is the President of the Wagner College Hillel. Since becoming president in 2018, she has worked with other students on campus to expand the club’s membership, programming and overall outreach. As a Hillel Peer Engagement Intern, her goal has been to build relationships on campus to strengthen Wagner’s vibrant and meaningful Jewish community.

Ruth also has been a vital member and intern for the Wagner College Holocaust Center. In 2018, she starred in the Holocaust Center’s play, “In The Light of One Another,” which shed light on actual testimonies of Staten Island Holocaust survivors. Her participation in Holocaust education at Wagner inspired Ruth to visit a concentration camp last summer while studying vocal performance in Dresden, Germany. This experience rounded out her knowledge and sentiments towards the subject.


Save the Date!

The 2020 Wagner College Chai Society Community Mitzvah Awards Dinner will be held on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at Wagner College. Formal invitation to follow.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. – Reynolds House Library

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. – Reynolds House Library

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. – Reynolds House Library