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SHAI's Gala Dinner Celebrates 18 Years of Service to the Iranian Jewish Community

By Pargol Nazarian Khadavi                                                                 


SHAI held its 18th Year Anniversary Gala Dinner on Wednesday evening, March 24,2010, at Fresh Meadows Country Club in Great Neck. Since its inception in 1992, SHAI has grown to count over 1,000 families amongst its members. Committed to the furtherance of its youth's education, SHAI's Dinner supported the very successful SHAI Educational Scholarship Fund, now in its twelfth year. Since the founding of the Educational Scholarship Fund, SHAI has awarded over $1.2 million in need-based scholarships to more than 1,000 students both locally and in Israel. The evening's keynote guest speakers were the Honorable Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and world renowned economist, Dr. Nouriel Roubini.

Master of Ceremonies and Vice President, Pargol Khadavi, began the evening in echoing the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "It takes a village to raise a child." "If our village is our community, then it is the goal of SHAI to create a platform from which that sense of community may be strengthened. If our children are our future, then it is the intent of SHAI to help provide for that future," she said in welcoming the packed room of approximately 350 guests.

Throughout the years SHAI has reached out and developed partnerships with local schools, synagogues, Jewish organizations, and local governments. Especially worthy of noting is SHAI's partnership with the Great Neck Senior-Center. Since 2003, SHAI has supported the tireless efforts of Board member and Vice President, Parvaneh Khodadian, who in partnering with the Great Neck Senior Center, has brought in over 100 seniors from the Persian Jewish community as active daily participants. To that end, SHAI is the Great Neck Senior Center's largest non-public donor. In attendance that evening were North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, representatives from State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel's office and Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth's office, and Mayor of Great Neck Plaza Jean Celender. Representatives from the State of Israel Bonds and Friends of Israeli Defense Forces were also in attendance.

The SHAI Gala Dinner also promotes a number of merit-based academic incentive programs including The Parviz Ohebshalom Leadership Award which was awarded to the President of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, Shahram Yaghoubzadeh; cancer biologist and stern cell authority, Dr. Shahin Rafii; biomedical research expert and opthamologist, Dr. Houman David Hernrnati; and Maccabbee Games Gold medalist and Olympic contender, Dustin Ernrani. The Albert Massachi Award of Merit for academic excellence was awarded to Advanced Placement Scholars Ashley Ernrani, Matthew Homapour, Philip Moussazadeh, and Chelsea Sassouni. The Eli Sassouni Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence was awarded to Natioanal Merit Awardees and Advanced Placement Scholars Eskandar Aryeh and Aaron Harounian. Intel Semifinalist Daniel Piroozian also received an award in this category. The Moussa Brookhim Scholarship for Iranian Jewish Studies, which is an annual essay contest regarding the history of the Iranian Jews, was awarded to Darya Sasson and Jordan Khorshad. All award recipients received a New York State Assembly Citation from Assemblywoman Michelle Schlmel. SHAI received a citation commemorating its 18th year of service to the Iranian Jewish community from Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth.

According to SHAI President Shahram Delafraz, it is SHAI's mission to meet the evolving needs of the Iranian Jewish community, across generational lines, while promoting conservative values, traditions, and Sephardic heritage. In support of those goals, SHAI will be participating in numbers, as it does every year, in the Salute to Israel Day Parade on Sunday, May 23, 2010. SHAI regularly sponsors community-wide blood drives, toy and coat drives, and environmental and educational forums. For more information about SHAI, please visit our newly revamped website at SHAI-ONLINE.ORG