Ivan Decker, left, and Leonard Brody are among the presenters at King David High School’s Golden Thread Gala May 13. (PR photos)
On May 13, King David High School is honouring its “grandparents,” people who have particularly supported the school over the years, in a variety of ways. With the theme “education is the golden thread weaving our past to our Jewish future,” the virtual Golden Thread Gala “celebrates the community that nurtures King David High School, inspires the next generation of leaders and is rooted in the appreciation of Jewish values and traditions.”
The Diamond Foundation is being recognized as an “honorary grandparent,” while the “grandparents” being paid tribute are Gary Averbach, Shirley Barnett, Beth and Leon Bogner, Sylvia Cristall, Marie Doduck, Rose Marie Glassman, Dr. Arthur and Arlene Hayes, Dr. Simon and Rosalind Jacobson, Evelyn Kahn, Tamar Khalifa, Dr. Robert and Marilyn Krell, Lana and Mendy Landa, Norman and Sandra Miller, Norman and Lola Pawer, Dan and Trudy Pekarsky, Yvette Porte, Lyle Pullan, Arnold and Anita Silber, and David and Elaine Youngson. Dr. Robert and Elke Mermelstein are being celebrated as “adopted grandparents.”
“We can never fully show the Diamond Foundation the gratitude they deserve, so we named the foundation as honorary grandparents,” explained gala co-chairs Jacci Sandler, Chana Charach and Margaret Hemingson in an email interview. “Gordon, Leslie, Jill and Lauri have made our school possible. They are foundational, literally and figuratively, for King David’s existence and success. They have not only provided the building in which we live, learn and play but also have provided ongoing support and funding for the Judaic studies program to ensure the ongoing success of the school.
“Over the years, King David has been blessed by the ongoing support we receive from our grandparents,” they continued. “Whether it’s giving of their wisdom, time or financial support, they are always there for us. This gala recognizes them all! All of our grandparents deserve thanks for instilling Jewish values in their children that they are passing on to our students.”
The 19 grandparent families’ philanthropy has ensured that a Jewish education is accessible for every child, said the co-chairs. “The reality is that, without their generous support, we would not be able to provide a Jewish education to every child. It is a time to show our appreciation and thank every one of our grandparents for continuing the golden thread that binds our past to our future.”
Regarding the Mermelsteins, the co-chairs said, “They are passionate about Jewish education and have adopted all of us at King David as their grandchildren. They are integral members of our King David family and provide ongoing positive input and generous support so all students can attend and be proud King David Lions.”
In Judaism, l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation) is an enduring idea, said the co-chairs. “The passing of knowledge to future generations provides both legacy and a story. Each generation passes down wisdom, ancient traditions, rituals and customs. Jewish education values and honours this transmission of knowledge, literacy and skills…. Our grandparents’ colourful tapestry of experiences enrich the lives of students every day.”
The gala program “includes comedy, inspiration, musical performances by King David students and alumni, plus silent and live auctions with incredible items,” said the co-chairs.
Comedian Ivan Decker – who has appeared at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival and has various TV and radio appearances, including his own comedy special on CTV and Netflix – will emcee the gala. KDHS head of school Russ Klein will interview entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author and media commentator Leonard Brody, co-founder and executive chair of Creative Labs, about “disruption, innovation, and their effects on our world and children.” And entertainment and media executive Howard Blank will act as the evening’s auctioneer. The online silent auction is currently open and will close during the gala. “Items include workout sessions, cooking classes, handbags, beauty and relaxation products, power tools, wine and so much more!” said the co-chairs.
The inaugural Golden Thread Gala was originally scheduled for May 2020, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. “We witnessed so many families in our community that suddenly found themselves being impacted by the pandemic, financially as well as emotionally,” said Sandler, Charach and Hemingson. “This event is so important as it is King David’s major fundraiser and friendraiser. All funds raised will directly impact our students and enable the school to achieve its vision of ‘empowering Jewish minds and engaging Jewish hearts’ by enhancing our fundamental curriculum, educational excellence and vibrant Jewish life programming.”
With respect to the effects of the pandemic, Klein said, “King David has experienced, as a family, the same challenges that individual families have had and yet the students and staff have been so positive and resilient. We have had full-time school all year and, although we have had to adjust our schedule a little, there has been no loss of learning. I feel for the students, though, in that so many of our wonderful experiential programs are on hold. Our Grade 8 Israel trip is now two years behind, our Los Angeles Holocaust studies trip is a year behind, and our school-wide retreats are not happening. And, of course, the students cannot play competitive sports against other schools, which is a big loss for many of our students.”
But, there have been bright spots, too, he added. “Our parent-teacher meetings were better attended and even more personal, and we have been able to reach out more frequently and invite parents to meet via Zoom. Assembly presentations have also been better, as the smaller in-class environment makes more student engagement and participation possible. In sports, we have been very active within the school grade cohorts and added non-competitive co-ed activities like volleyball and soccer, and the students have really loved the fun and camaraderie with each other and their teachers. No doubt, we will be keeping some things that we have learned but all of us cannot wait to get back to having the meaningful ‘extra’ experiences that make school life and learning so very enjoyable.”
Tickets to the Golden Thread Gala start at $36 for entry, with increasingly more benefits at each level. For tickets, more information about the event and access to the auction, visit goldenthreadgala.com. The pre-show starts at 7 p.m. on May 13, and the main event at 7:30 p.m.