Major Gifts 2023
Thank you to those that were able to
join us in honoring
Joan & Michael Gittelsohn and Elaine & Jack Slobod
at our Major Gifts Event
Surrounded by family and friends, Michael & Joan Gittelsohn and Jack & Elaine Slobod were honored at our Major Gifts event at Stony Ford Golf Club. Both are long-time donors and volunteers for the Jewish Federation and gave impassioned presentations about why they support the work of our Federation and other Jewish causes. Speakers from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), who were curtailed from being with us in-person due to the war in Israel, were on Zoom.
Rebecca Zimilover gave an overview of how funds that you give to your local Federation are utilized to help Jews around the world through the JDC. Luiza Levit, who lives in Israel, gave us a first-hand account of what she and her family experienced when the war began, & how they are managing now. You can hear their presentations below.
Rebecca Zimilover and Luiza Levit both from JDC
Michael Gittelsohn is a retired, former member of the law firm Finkelstein, Levine, Gittelsohn and Partners. He was a board member of Temple Beth Jacob in Newburgh for 30 years and president of the Newburgh Jewish Community Center. He was also instrumental in the procurement of the stained glass windows for Temple Beth Jacob, as well as contracting with a scribe for a new Torah for TBJ. He resurrected the TBJ men’s club and kept it vibrant for many years.
He served as counsel for Jewish Family Service in Orange County, and for 10 years, organized a bowling tournament that raised significant funds for JFS. Michael currently serves on the Jewish Federation’s Endowment Committee and is instrumental in updating the bylaws and contracts for our endowment program.
Joan is a current board trustee at Temple Beth Jacob and the Newburgh Jewish Community Center, as well as Jewish Family Service Friends of Seniors in the Town of Newburgh. She also had worked as the coordinator of the JFS Friendly Visitor Program and our Federation’s Russian-Jew resettlement program. She is particularly proud of the work that she did with student teachers at Mount St. Mary College in the Department of Education’s Literacy Orange, and, prior to the pandemic, had done meal delivery for the Office of the Aging.
Michael and Joan are long-time major donors to the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, and we are grateful for their ongoing support and dedication to the Jewish community
Elaine and Jack grew up in very different parts of New York, he in Brooklyn, the older of two children of Faye (Prince) and Murray Slobod, she in Middletown, the youngest of three children born to Frances (Klein) and Isidore Zaritsky. Jack’s father worked in advertising for a trade magazine his entire career. His mother, a piano prodigy as a child, kept the home going and took in clerical work. Elaine’s parents worked together running a manufacturing business in Middletown.
While neither family was observant, there was a strong sense of Jewish identity in both homes. Jack’s maternal grandfather was the gabbai at the Orthodox synagogue they attended. Jack attended Hebrew School, and was able to chant from memory. Elaine’s dad served on the Board of Trustees of the Middletown Hebrew Congregation, as Temple Sinai was then known. Even as a teenager, Elaine's social life revolved around the Temple. She was active in the Temple's youth group, serving as its president. She worked alongside her mother in the Temple kitchen helping out at Sisterhood events.
Jack attended Brooklyn schools through Tilden High School, and studied electrical engineering at City College of New York, obtaining a B.E.E degree. After graduating from Middletown High School, Elaine went on to college, majoring in clinical psychology. After graduating from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Elaine enrolled at New York University School of Law. At the end of Elaine’s first year at NYU, the boy from Brooklyn and the girl from Middletown met and fell in love. At that time, Jack was working as an engineer at an electrical products company in Connecticut. They married two weeks after Elaine took the New York bar exam.
They initially lived in New Rochelle, NY so that Elaine would have a New York residence for admission to the bar and so that Jack could complete his evening studies at CCNY for his M.E.E. degree. Soon after, they moved to Washington, D.C., where Jack worked as a member of technical staff of a satellite communications company, and later, an applied physics research company, while attending George Washington University Law School in the evening. During that time, their children were born. Jack and Elaine are the proud parents of Richard and Michele and her husband Jesse, and the even prouder grandparents of Jonathan and Benjamin.
After graduation from GW law and becoming a member of the D.C. bar and the bar of the United States Patent Office, Jack worked at NASA as a patent attorney, and later, at a Virginia patent law firm. In 1974, Jack and Elaine decided it was time to come home. They realized that Elaine would have a better chance to further her career in Middletown, where she had family and a support system.
Upon coming home, Jack became a member of the New York bar, and Elaine and Jack practiced law together in downtown Middletown. They not only worked hard in their practice but also became active in their community, both in the Jewish community and the community at large.
In the Jewish Community, Jack served as Vice President and then the fifth President of Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, briefly the first President of Hebrew Day School of Orange County, President of the Temple Sinai Men’s Club, a member of the Temple Sinai Choir, Vice President, and then President of Temple Sinai. Jack currently again serves on the Executive Board and Board of Trustees of Temple Sinai.
Within the Jewish community, Elaine was active in SCOPUS. While in SCOPUS, she chaired the American Affairs Committee. She is a life member of Hadassah. She has served on the executive committee of the Sisterhood of Temple Sinai. Elaine was a member of the Temple's Ritual Committee and chaired its Membership Committee. For many years, Elaine sat on the Board of Trustees of Temple Sinai, serving as Vice President. She also sat on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Center of Orange County.
During the time Jack served as Vice President of Jewish Federation, he strongly supported and encouraged the addition of new communities in Orange County to become part of Jewish Federation. Once Monroe joined, the name of the Federation was changed to Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County. While President of Jewish Federation, Jack strongly advocated for and saw the establishment of Jewish Family Service in Orange County.
Both Elaine and Jack served on the Community Council of the Federation. Elaine served on the Youth to Israel committee for a number of years. Both Elaine and Jack worked at almost every Super Sunday. What seems like a lifetime ago, they were members of the Middletown Young Leadership program started by Jewish Federation.
In the community at large, Jack served on the board of Occupations Inc., was Chairman of the Middletown Republican Committee and a member of the Executive Board of the Orange County Republican Committee, and taught banking law at Orange County Community College. He also served briefly as Acting City Court Judge in the City of Middletown.
Elaine served on the Orange County Task Force on Child Abuse. She was a member of the League of Women Voters. She was a Cub Scout den mother. For several years, Elaine served on the Board of Directors of The Times Herald Record’s People for People Fund. She served on the Advisory Board for the Parents Apart Program. Elaine was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Promoting Gender Fairness in the Courts.
In 1979, Elaine was tapped to be Middletown City Court Judge. She was the first woman to ever serve in that position. She was initially appointed by Mayor Myron Perry. That same year, she ran for and was elected to a full term as Middletown City Court Judge. As a City Court Judge, she started a Community Service Program for youthful offenders and encouraged the formation of the alternative dispute program in that Court. She served in the Middletown City Court for five years before being elected to the Orange County Family Court in 1983.
Elaine was the first woman to be elected to a county wide judicial office in Orange County. What she found when she was elected to the Family Court bench was a court with few services for the litigants that came before the court. Elaine was instrumental in the formulation of a Mental Health Assessment Team for the Family Court, a forensic team knowledgeable in the issues relevant to custody evaluations, the Court Appointed Special Assistant program, a program designed to prevent children from falling through the cracks while in foster care, and Parents Apart, a parental educational program to inform parents about the legal process and how it effects their children. In addition, Elaine was a moving force in obtaining for the Court a children's nursery for children whose parents are waiting to be heard in the Court. That area provides supervised play for children away from the stress of the Family Court waiting room. While in Family Court, she served as co-chair of the Education Curriculum Committee of the New York State Family Court Judges.
In 1994, Elaine was elected Surrogate Judge of Orange County, the first woman to be elected to that position. While in the Surrogate Court, she was a member of the executive committee of the Surrogate’s Association of the State of New York. After serving there for 13 years, she was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 2007, the first woman from Orange County to be elected to that position. She served as a Supreme Court Justice until her retirement in December, 2019. During her time on the bench, she received a number of awards for her work in the legal field. Among them were the Liberty Bell Award for Dedication and Long Standing Service to the People of Orange County and the Rose Rosen Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Legal Profession, but the one she is most proud of is the one given to her by the Women’s Bar Association of Orange and Sullivan County, The Elaine Slobod Lifetime Achievement Award, which is named for her.
Jack continued practicing law in Middletown after Elaine was elected Family Court Judge in 1973, lastly in the firm Blustein & Slobod. In 1988, Jack left his law practice in Middletown and his position as Acting City Court Judge of the Middletown City Court, and went to work for Philips Electronics in Tarrytown, NY as a intellectual property attorney. Jack rose in responsibility in this multi-national company to becoming a manager of patent licensing, and Principal IP Counsel.
Jack retired from Philips in 2011 and became General Counsel of One-Blue, LLC, a patent licensing company, which operates a patent pool for Blu-ray products, licensing-out patents of multiple companies internationally. Jack retired from One-Blue in 2021.