About the Ray of Hope Award

“One Person’s Candle is Light for Many”

The Ray of Hope Award honors inspirational, motivational and exceptional members of the community. The recipients are dedicated to improving the lives of young people in the United States, Israel and worldwide.

Our honorees are truly a “Ray of Hope” for at-risk youth and we celebrate the change that they create.

Previous Recipients

40th Anniversary Legacy Award (2023)

Ken and Ann Bialkin

Ann Bialkin, with the staunch support of her husband Kenneth and Israeli colleagues, is the founder of ELEM. As a matter of fact, the early years of the organization took place around her dining room table in their Upper West Side home.
Ann Bialkin received a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and earned a Master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City. Upon graduating, she worked as a family therapist and treated youth similar to those ELEM serves.

Ann managed and supervised a liaison program at the Jewish Board of Guardians (now called Jewish Board) to support children who were in trouble with the law by linking them with volunteers in the family courts of New York City. These activities gave her insight into the functioning of the juvenile justice system and spurred the creation of ELEM in 1982.

She served as President of ELEM/USA for 28 years, and currently serves as a member of the International Board of Directors of ELEM and as the Chair of ELEM’s USA Board. Ann routinely travels between New York and Israel to participate in policymaking and professional issues.

Ann Bialkin’s civic and philanthropic commitments extend beyond ELEM. She is an executive committee member of the board of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, a patron of Carnegie Hall and an honorary director of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. She was married to attorney Kenneth J. Bialkin, who was a committed supporter of ELEM’s activities and a member of ELEM’s advisory board.

Ken Bialkin was born in the Bronx to immigrant parents, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1950 with a degree in economics and then earned a J.D. degree from Harvard in 1953. His law practice encompassed a broad range of corporate and securities law matters, first when he was senior partner in the law firm of Willke, Farr & Gallagher and then with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. At the same time, he taught securities law at New York University School of Law for 18 years and became involved in a number of Jewish organizations. He was national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League; president and chairman of the American Jewish Historical Society, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and chairman of the America Israel Friendship League. He also served for 30 years as vice chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation.

In his law practice, Bialkin represented insurance companies, broker-dealers, investment bankers, and other financial institutions. He was involved in some of the largest insurance company mergers and acquisitions in the United States.

Bialkin is a former editor of Business Lawyer magazine and was chairman of the American Bar Association's committee on federal regulation of securities.

In recognition of his 16 years as a member of its board of directors, Citigroup established the Kenneth J. Bialkin/Citigroup Public Service Award at the American Jewish Historical Society.

Frances Katz
40th Anniversary Legacy Award (2023)

Frances Katz

Ms. Katz is a certified social worker, a Member of the New York State Society, Clinical Social Workers, and the National Association of Social Workers.
Frances R. Katz, noted philanthropist and supporter of the arts, has served as a board of trustee member and assistant treasurer of Parker Jewish Institute for 29 years. She received the Distinguished Trustee Award from the United Hospital Fund for outstanding service as a volunteer board member.The award was given at the United Hospital Fund (UHF) Tribute to Hospital and Health Care Trustee Awards luncheon held at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York City.
She continues her late husband’s legacy, serving on the American Friends of Hebrew University in various leadership roles and generously supporting students, faculty, and research at HU.

She resides with her family in New York.

40th Anniversary Legacy Award (2023)

Bobbie Glass Z"L

One of ELEM’s founding members, Bobbi, has been a dedicated and passionate advocate for at-risk youth for decades. She continues to be an active and committed leader on the board. A devoted mother and grandmother, Bobbi resides outside of Boston, MA.
2020 Co-Recipient

Alon Futterman

Alon Futterman, is a dynamic social entrepreneur who has founded and directed some of the most innovative initiatives in Israel. Alon has been honored as one of Globes Magazine’s most promising and influential Israelis in their “40 under 40” list as well, as by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper as one of Israel’s most inspirational “People of the State”. Alon’s accomplishments span the worlds of entrepreneurship, government, politics, public education, international partnerships, and aviation non-profits.
2020 Co-Recipient

Susan Saltz

Susan Saltz CEO of New Light Media, President of the Gary Saltz Foundation, and a dedicated philanthropist. Among her many other endeavors, Susan serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations that advocated for education reform and the protection of children’s rights.

In addition to the incredible work Susan does in the community, she is an award winning documentary producer and the associate producer of the feature film “HER MAJESTY”. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, who have brought her deeper understanding of childhood needs and rights.

2004 Co-Recipient

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Z”L

Rabbi Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The objectives of the organization were to support Jews in need of financial help. It promotes emigration of Jews to Israel, and supported poor soldiers in the Israeli military. Newsweek listed him in the Top 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America.
2003 Co-Recipient

Marla Bennett, Z”L

Marla was killed on, July 31, 2002, when a terrorist attack ripped apart Hebrew University’s cafeteria. Marla was a special person whose warmth and enthusiasm deeply touched the lives of everyone she came in contact with. She has inspired so many people with her love of Jewish learning and Israel.
1999 Recipient

Gil Shwed

Gil is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cyber Threat Alliance. He is considered the inventor of the modern firewall and authored several patents. He founded Check Point, which develops cybersecurity software.
1992 Co-Recipients

Joan & Sanford I. Weill

Joan and Sanford are the first people to be honored by ELEM. Sandford is an American banker, financier and philanthropist. He is a former Chief Executive and Chairman of Citigroup. Philanthropy has been a large part of their lives over the last three decades and is something they are deeply passionate about and enjoy doing together.