ELEM'S Newsletter, September 2016

Back row, left to right: David Sugarman, CEO of Sugarman World Enterprises, honoree; Shlomo Yanai, chairman, ELEM Israel, honoree; Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin, executive director, ELEM USA. Front row: Lenore Ruben, president ELEM USA; Ann Bialkin, co-founder & chair, ELEM USA; Nava Barak, President, ELEM Israel.

2016 ELEM Ray of Hope Gala

Nearly 200 people gathered at midtown’s eSpace for ELEM Youth in Distress’ 2016 Ray of Hope Gala. Emceed by Lenore Ruben, president, ELEM USA, honorees David Sugarman, social activist and CEO, Sugarman World Enterprises; and Shlomo Yanai, chairman,  Cambrex Corporation, and chairman, ELEM/Youth in Distress in Israel, were honored for years of community service.

Click here to see our wonderful Gala video.

A few words from Lenore Ruben, President; and Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin, Executive Director, ELEM USA, and our honorees.

Lenore Ruben, President of ELEM USA

“Those of us who have visited Israel know that it is a complicated society, very old and very young; modern and steeped in tradition,” said Ruben. “In the midst of this cauldron of old and new, many Israeli teenagers and young adults who have family and societal support are blossoming. However, thousands of teens are not handling this complex society and all of its stresses well. They have fallen through the cracks in society and feel alone, often desperate because they do not have family and community support in their lives. ELEM seeks out these young people on the streets in 43 cities and offers mentorship, job training, and ongoing support.”  

Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin, Executive Director ELEM USA

“You can’t force a teen or young adult to change their behavior, that any parent can tell you, and especially teens who have been neglected or abused. The way to help them is to be a positive presence in their lives, a mentor, even a confidant without judgment,” said Lankin. “Israel, as a society, cannot afford to throw away thousands of kids. Discarding them like the evening trash. Every young person is precious and can make a contribution to strengthen Israel.”

Nava Barak, President ELEM Israel

Nava Barak, former Israeli First Lady and ELEM-Israel President, keynoted. In discussing ELEM’s massive volunteer program in Israel, Barak spoke of one youth helped, “Naama came to us several years ago. We worked with her and helped her get her wings to fly. She’s now a social worker and giving back to ELEM through her volunteer work.”

David Sugarman, ELEM Gala Honoree

David Sugarman: “ELEM is very important to me for two reasons and I suggest to you this evening, that it should be important to you, too. First, I have a special place in my heart for Israel, said Sugarman upon accepting his award. “Since I know that ELEM speaks up for teens and young adults that often have been abandoned by their families and society, I deeply connect to its work, making me doubly honored to receive this award tonight.”

Shlomo Yanai, ELEM Gala Honoree and ELEM Israel Chairman

“We can really take pride that we are making a better Israeli society, said Yanai upon accepting his award. “It only takes one evening to join our volunteers to become an ELEM member for life.”

More than 15 volunteers staffed the dinner.

Without them, we couldn’t get the job done!

Israeli superstar David Broza entertained guests at this year’s ELEM Ray of Hope Gala. 

Sign up for ELEM's Spring 2017 Mission to Israel!

Our Vice President, Lori Gosset, spoke about this special trip during the Gala. She said, “If you’ve never been to Israel and want to see the heart and soul of its youth, this trip is for you. And if you’ve been to Israel and want to see it from a unique perspective, this trip is also for you!”

Youth Engagement

Special thanks to Jordan Colon, son of ELEM’s Administrative Assistant, Liora Attias, who donated a part of his Bar Mitzvah presents to support ELEM’s work with youth.
ELEM has ideas for youth who want to engage in fundraising campaigns to directly benefit ELEM’s youth including:*Bar or Bat Mitzvah projects*Fun, meaningful event for youth groups*Projects for school classes to promote values of charity and caring for others

For more information click here.

Volunteer of the Month

Vered Grossman, our volunteer of the month, transformed the life of “Naama,” a troubled Ethiopian teen who sought help at the Coffee and Small Talk – Hafuch al Hafuch Youth Center in Kiryat Yam. When Vered first met Naama she was 14 years old and did not believe in herself. Over the next three years, the two worked together to change Naama’s life. By the time Naama was 16, she became a camp counselor. Vered promised her if she kept growing, she would be present at the ceremony when she completed her officers training course in the army. Today, Naama is a Commanding Officer for basic training for men and women in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Round Up From Our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

As we get ready for the New Year, ELEM has been moving full steam ahead. Our 2016 Ray of Hope Gala in June was a great success. Congratulations to our honorees David Sugarman and Shlomo Yanai. I also cannot thank our volunteers and participants enough. Each one of you are responsible for helping to change the lives of troubled teens and young adults in Israel.

In July, I had the pleasure of accepting a $3000 donation from the Teen Philanthropy Group of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, N.Y. It warmed my heart to spend an evening with an impressive group of teens who chose ELEM as the organization to support and donate funds. I shared with them our tremendous gratitude for their gift and also that, as a community, we have an obligation to continue to invest in them as future leaders of our people. I know with the support of young people like these, we will continue to move forward.

I hope to see you on the March 2017 Mission to Israel. Remember the Early-Bird Discount for the Mission ends September 15, 2016.

Shanah Tovah. A happy, healthy and sweet New Year to you and your families.

Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin, Executive Director

From right to left (rear) Alex Budnitsky, CEO, Michaela Slutsky, teen director, teen volunteers, front Rabbi Dr. Eric Lankin


ELEM/Youth in Distress in Israel


Ann Bialkin, Chair

Lenore Ruben, President

Lori Gosset, Vice President

Mitchell Slepian, Newsletter Editor

Photos: ELEM’s Ray of Hope Gala by Igor Sosin
Teen Philanthropy Group by Mitchell Slepian