OU’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society Dinner To Celebrate Legacy of Anne Samson, January 26 in NYC

07 Jan 2014
Anne Samson, a”h

The Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner on Sunday evening, January 26 in New York will celebrate the legacy of Anne Samson a”h of Beverly Hills, who was tragically taken from family, friends and the Jewish community she served so well in a horrific August automobile accident in Los Angeles.

NCSY is the Orthodox Union’s international youth movement and the Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS) is NCSY’s Alumni Hall of Fame. Proceeds from the scholarship dinner will be used to enable teens to attend NCSY life-changing national initiatives, including summer travel and study programs and the National Yarchei Kallah experience of five days of intense Torah study for public school teens during their winter break. As an ongoing effort in Anne’s memory, this year, the Samson family has helped establish the Anne Samson Memorial Fund which will provide additional assistance to such programs as NCSY’s prestigious Jerusalem Journey summer program, in which hundreds of public school students have their very first Israel experience.

Anne and her husband, Lee, have been associated with the Orthodox Union for more than four decades. Lee was the first fulltime NCSY regional director and helped create the West Coast regions of both NCSY and the OU. Anne and Lee worked closely together innovating creative programs to reach teenagers, most notably, the first NCSY summer program — Camp NCSY — where young people from all over the West Coast found inspiration and education.

As they matured in their community activities and Lee moved on to the business world, they remained involved and connected to NCSY and the OU in many ways. According to dinner co-chair Vivian Luchins, “As a mother, wife and community leader, there was always a special smile which radiated from Anne. You always wanted to be near her; she warmed up a room and she cared so much about her family and yours.”

Anne will be posthumously inducted into the Ben Zakkai Honor Society and presented with the coveted Ezra Ben Zion Lightman Memorial Award, named for a legendary National NCSY advisor who died at a young age in 1971 and had an abiding influence on hundreds of teens during his short life.

“I met Anne Samson at the first West Coast NCSY Regional Convention in Oakland, California in March of 1970,” wrote Isabelle Novak of Los Angeles, Ben Zakkai chair. “She was the discreet, but vital force behind everything Lee did in creating West Coast NCSY and the prototype summer program, Camp NCSY.”

A further tribute to Mrs. Samson’s legacy will take place at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center in Jerusalem, on Sunday evening, February 9. Marc Rohatiner of Los Angeles, tribute chair with his wife, Lynn, said, “It is most appropriate that Anne Samson’s NCSY family will be celebrating her legacy of chesed and communal leadership at this year’s Ben Zakkai Dinner in New York City and at the Israel Center in Jerusalem.”

Each year the dinner heralds new inductees to Ben Zakkai and those receiving special awards. The event will be held at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York with a memorial shiur given by Rabbi Natan Slifkin, son-in-law of Anne and Lee Samson, at 4:00 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:00 p.m. and dinner at 6:00 p.m.

The new BZHS inductees include: Dr. Kerri Davidove Lee of Los Angeles, who will be formally inducted at this year’s NCSY West Coast Regional Convention; Irwin Nachimson of Los Angeles, former West Coast NCSY Youth Commission chair; Alyse Neumark Rozenberg of Bergenfield, NJ, veteran New York and National NCSY advisor; and Levi Zeffren of Chicago, director of Chicago JSU, and Skokie Chapter associate advisor.

Two exceptional NCSY chapter advisors will be inducted: Shelley Israel of Milwaukee, recipient of the Enid and Harold Boxer Memorial Award; and Bella Porter Smith of Minneapolis, honored with the Leadership Award. They will both become Honorary Members of BZHS.

Co-Dinner Chairman David Luchins said, “We are delighted that the other inductees tonight represent some of the finest graduates of NCSY and several of our most skilled advisors. Shelley Israel and Bella Porter Smith each played an important role for over two decades in transforming the face of teenage Orthodoxy in their communities. Alyse Neumark Rozenberg and Irwin Nachimson are second generation leaders in the Orthodox Union community whose roots go deep back to their NCSY days in high school. Levi Zeffren represents the new generation of committed advisors continuing to make NCSY history.”

For further information about the dinner, contact Elaine Grossman at {encode=”grossmane@ou.org” title=”grossmane@ou.org”} or 212-613-8350.

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