Simhat Torah Honorees

Each year as we complete the annual cycle of Torah reading and immediately begin it again, Park Avenue Synagogue follows the tradition of honoring congregants who have made great contributions to the community with the final reading from the end of the Torah and the first reading from the beginning of the Torah. This year Craig Solomon is our Hatan Torah, honored with the final aliyah from the book of Deuteronomy. Pauline Zablow is our Kallat B’reishit, honored with the first Aliyah from the book of Genesis.

Craig Solomon
Hatan Torah

Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.
                                                                   —Exodus 25:8

Craig Solomon has been leading the expansion of Park Avenue Synagogue’s campus for close to five years, from the moment that it became apparent that the congregation had outgrown its space.

Members since 1989, Craig and Diane joined Park Avenue Synagogue as a young couple because they were looking for a Conservative congregation similar to the one where Craig grew up in Massachusetts. They raised their children here: daughter Marissa celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, graduated from our high school, and was married by Rabbi Cosgrove and Cantor Schwartz. She and her husband Jake are now members, too, and they look forward to soon welcoming their first child into the PAS community. Craig and Diane’s son Evan also attended PAS religious school and became a Bar Mitzvah here.

Craig had decided to engage more fully with Jewish philanthropy in general and with the PAS community, so he readily said yes when he was asked to assist in evaluating space alternatives for the congregation nearly five years ago. His work on that project led to his becoming an Advisory Council member and then a member of the Board of Directors. Trained as a real estate attorney and the co-founder and CEO of real estate private equity firm Square Mile Capital, Craig has broad expertise in all facets of the real estate arena. His focus at PAS has continued to be on the space projects. As co-chair of the Space Committee, he led the purchase of the 89th Street building and then went on to oversee the gut renovation of the building that will be dedicated this month as the Eli M. Black Lifelong Learning Center. Not one to rest on his laurels, Craig is also overseeing the renovation of the 87th Street building. Construction will not begin until late spring of 2018, but design and planning are already well underway.

Craig is proud of what PAS has been able to achieve with the Eli M. Black Lifelong Learning Center, and he is excited to prepare 87th Street for its transformation. He appreciates having been asked to be a small part of a once-in-a-generation reimagining of the PAS campus.

Park Avenue Synagogue salutes Craig Solomon, Hatan Torah.

Pauline Zablow
Kallat B’reishit

Her mouth is full of wisdom, her tongue with kindly teaching.
                                                                                —Proverbs 31:26

Pauline Zablow is devoted to sharing her love for the Jewish people and culture with the next generation and to enabling young Jews to own our sacred heritage.

Pauline’s first language was Yiddish, and Yiddish still shapes her thoughts. Growing up in Washington Heights and Brooklyn, she attended both Yeshiva Soloveichik and Rambam. From her parents, both Holocaust survivors, she absorbed the values of education, tzedakah, and hakhnasat orhim (welcoming guests).

Pauline believes in the Yiddish concept of “bashert,” whatever happens is meant to be. Her stories of how “bashert” has played out in her life include meeting her husband Milt; having two wonderful children, Shanna and Mark; Mark’s marrying his basherte Cory; and the birth of grandson Mason, the joy of her and Milt’s life.

Living in California when her children were young, Pauline volunteered as a shadow for students with special needs and served on the board of The Friendship Circle (a program which pairs teenage volunteers with children who have special needs). She also studied Torah weekly, spending thirteen years reading from the start of B’reishit to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai!

When Pauline and Milt moved back to NYC, she wanted to volunteer and to continue her studies. Friends told her, “take Melton,” which was only given at PAS. But another Melton 1 class wasn’t starting for a year and a half, so Pauline volunteered with seniors at another synagogue and continued her search for a synagogue to call “home.” Then, on the first day of Melton, Pauline met Rabbi Cosgrove, who also came from California, and they discovered that her daughter Shanna was good friends with the rabbi’s brother Jason. It was bashert!

Now a PAS member for eight years, Pauline volunteers with seventh graders in the Congregational School. She launched “Coffee Talk,” where students hear the stories of her parents and other Holocaust survivors. She wants the students to understand, to remember, and to retell these stories so they’re not forgotten as the last of the survivors reach the end of their lives. Pauline’s Bnei Mitzvah “Pen Ceremony” teaches students the difference between having fun and being happy – learning not what offers short-term amusement, but what nourishes their souls. She awards each a special gold pen as a reminder of those values.

Pauline shadows fourth graders with special needs and engages their classmates to befriend them, to become their pals. That was the forerunner of the Teen Food Pantry “PALs – Park Avenue Leaders” program, which enables all teens to participate in Food Pantry.

Pauline’s desire to be part of an inclusive Jewish community that offers values-based education to all ages has led her to serve as co-chair of the PAS Membership Committee and to volunteer on the Inclusion Committee and the Education Committee. She also serves on the Advisory Council. She continues to study in Melton, Women in the Bible, Midtown Lunch & Learn, and many other classes.

Park Avenue Synagogue salutes Pauline Zablow, Kallat B’reishit.