Honoring Dr. Alex & Olga Rovt – Guests of Honor

We are thrilled to announce the Park East Synagogue Annual Dinner Guests of Honor, Dr. Alex & Olga Rovt! Join us on Wednesday, June 5 for our Annual Dinner as we honor Dr. Alex and Olga in support of our Synagogue and Jewish Education.

Dr. Alex Rovt was born in the Transcarpathian region presently Ukraine that was Hungary until 1945. Upon his graduation from the Lviv Business School, Dr. Rovt successfully completed and earned the equivalent of a Masters in Business Administration with further obtaining his PhD Degree in Economics, specializing in World Economy and International Economic Relations.

Dr. Rovt started his career as an international businessman and entrepreneur with the real success coming to him in 1978 in the Republic of Hungary when he had accepted the managerial work offer in the Hungarian state-owned company ‘Zoldert’ of the agricultural industry. In 1985 Dr. Rovt came to the United States as Assistant to the President of IBE Trade Corp., an American company with the office in Manhattan, that has been engaged in the production and marketing of agricultural fertilizers throughout the world. In a few years Dr. Rovt was promoted to Vice President of IBE Trade Corp. and finally in 1996 he became the company’s President and sole owner.

Dr. Rovt is not only a businessman, but also a philanthropist. An ardent supporter of children’s charities, Dr. Rovt is the main sponsor, trustee and President of ZDR Yeshiva Rambam and co-sponsor, trustee and Vice President of Yeshiva of Flatbush, both located in Brooklyn. Dr. Rovt also supports scholarship programs to cover tuition costs of many international students that wish to study in the United States (John Jay College, Fordham University).

From 2001 until 2018 Dr. Rovt had been a member, the Vice Chairman, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. In September, 2012, he became Chairman for the Board of Trustees of BUHMC. In 2003 he was selected as Brookdale Hospital’s Board of Trustees Honoree at the Brookdale Hospital Annual Tribute Ball. On May 12th, 2006, in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel he received his Unified Hospital Fund’s Distinguished Trustee Award. 

In April 2005, Dr. Alex Rovt was appointed by the Council of the City of New York as a Member of the New York City Board of Correction and served on the Board for 10 years until his tenure had expired in 2015. 

In February 2006, Dr. Alex Rovt was appointed by Governor Pataki as a Member of the Small Business Advisory Board of the New York State Senate.

In September 2008 Dr. Alex Rovt was admitted to exercise the functions of the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in the city of Szeged, Hungary, in the territory with traditionally mixed ethnic population groups of Hungarians and Ukrainians. For his successful public work in the status of the Honorary Consul in 2016 by the Decree of the President of Ukraine, Dr. Rovt was awarded the Fifth Degree Order of Yaroslav Mudry.    

Dr. Rovt is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Maimonides Medical Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice; a Trustee on the Board of Governors for the Touro College and University System, and is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for OBHS, Inc.

Dr. Alex Rovt is married to Olga and has two sons, Philip and Maxwell. 

Honoring Dr. Jeffrey & Amanda Morrison – Parents of the Year Awardees

We are thrilled to announce the Park East Synagogue Parents of the Year Awardees, Dr. Jeffrey & Amanda Morrison! Join us on Wednesday, June 5 for our Annual Dinner as we honor Dr. Jeffrey and Amanda in support of our Synagogue and Jewish Education.

Dr. Jeffrey and Amanda Morrison, a globally connected couple, found love in New York City, marking eight years of a joyful marriage. Active members at Park East Synagogue, they are dedicated parents to Maya and Sylvie, who are flourishing at Park East Hebrew School. The Morrisons are regulars at Children’s Shabbat service and various synagogue events, deeply embedding themselves in the community.

Amanda’s journey towards Judaism took a serendipitous turn long before she met Jeff. Born and raised in Taiwan, her classically trained talents as a pianist and opera singer led her from the vibrant streets of Taipei to the Black Box at New York University. It was there that she encountered Anna Skibinsky, an Israeli soprano whose mentorship opened Amanda’s eyes to the rich warmth of Israeli culture. As her career blossomed, taking her to iconic venues like the New York Mets and Carnegie Hall, Amanda’s path crossed with many Jewish families. This led to a renewed zest for teaching music, fostering cultural exchange and laying the foundation for her unique bond with Judaism, shaping her into a “Taiwanese-Jewish” spirit at heart long before her life intertwined with Jeff’s. Through the universal language of music and the shared notes of cultural harmony, Amanda’s appreciation for Judaism grew, nurturing a connection that would later be deepened through marriage and community life.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey, the medical director and senior physician at his private practice in midtown Manhattan, dedicates his expertise to Integrative Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, focusing on helping individuals manage chronic health issues. Born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he is the child of Jerry and Marti, second-generation Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. A New Yorker since 2001, Jeffrey has dedicated himself to providing holistic healthcare, reflecting his passion for well-being in both his practice and his involvement in the community.

The Morrisons express their immense gratitude for finding a spiritual home at Park East Synagogue. Inspired by Rabbi Schneier’s leadership, they have discovered a welcoming community that extends far beyond mere congregation. They cherish the opportunity to support Hebrew school teachers nurturing their children’s education, while forging meaningful connections with new friends that continue to deepen their own Jewish cultural and spiritual bonds.

A special appreciation goes to Rabbi Flatto for his guidance in weekly Parsha readings, Rabbi Caleb Fischer for sharing insights on living a meaningful Jewish life, and Rabbi Einsidler and Cantor Laivi for their dedication to passing on Jewish learning, songs, and heritage to the next generation within Park East Hebrew School. A heartfelt thank you also extends to Toby Einsidler, their children’s beloved teacher, whose passion inspires joy in their weekly Shabbat morning children’s service.

In honoring Jeff and Amanda Morrison, Park East Synagogue and its Hebrew School celebrate this vibrant couple as enthusiastic contributors to the congregation. Their unique attributes and dedication add immeasurable value to the shul and the wider community they have embraced as their own.

Remarks by H.E. Petra Schneebauer – Commemoration of the 85th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Message delivered by Petra Schneebauer
Ambassador of the Republic of Austria
to the United States of America
at Park East Synagogue, NY, on November 11, 2023

Lessons of Kristallnacht for today

It is an enormous honor, Rabbi Schneier, to reflect upon an event in history that shook our society to the core and which now resonates more than ever. During Kristallnacht, 85 years ago, the until then unthinkable happened. Now, 85 years later, again a new wave of antisemitism is threatening Jewish life across the world. Today, synagogues, Jewish schools, and Jewish businesses are being targeted by vandals, and Jewish people are constantly facing harassment and violence. This resurgence is a stark reminder that antisemitism is not a relic of the past but real and a danger of the present.

During Kristallnacht, violence was unleashed against Jewish citizens. Nazi thugs orchestrated attacks against thousands of Jewish businesses, and also looted hospitals, schools, and homes. The date of the evening of 9 to 10 November 1938 marked a new level of unprecedented violence against Jews.

The name “Night of Broken Glass” itself emphasizes the countless shattered windows and glass strewn across the streets in the aftermath. But, historically, Kristallnacht is much more than the physical destruction, for it marked a turning point in the persecution of Jews and foreshadowed the horrors of the Holocaust.

Austria looked away for too long, only belatedly did we come to terms with our role as perpetrators of the crimes and the historical responsibility that comes with it. In view of the terrible, barbaric acts committed against Jews throughout Germany and Austria, it is the duty of all Austrians to stand up resolutely and with the deepest conviction against all forms of antisemitism. Kristallnacht serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of hatred, prejudice, and intolerance. Its relevance for today cannot be overstated.

Historically, outbursts of antisemitism have often been signs of societies in deep trouble and tragic omens that extremism and violence are imminent. We must remember that it was a climate of rising antisemitism and dehumanization that allowed such a horrible instance to occur. It has clearly shown us that, prejudice can escalate into persecution and violence, if left unaddressed.

Today, the events of the night between November 9 and 10, 1938 remains an admonition of what must never be again. Yet, unchecked hatred is still a reality for Jews today, who fear for their security and for their lives.

The horrific terrorist attack and massacre caused by Hamas on October 7 has sparked hundreds of anti-Israel protests around the world, including here in the United States, but also in Europe, and even unfortunately in my home country of Austria, where the Jewish section of Vienna’s main cemetery was attacked. This incident fills me with shame. Let me cite the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community Vienna, Jaron Engelmayer: “It takes us back to times where books were burned…it is an attack on the spiritual values of the religion and of humanity which happened here.”

Appalling attacks like this one serve as a reminder that we in Austria bear a particular historic responsibility to stand up against all forms of antisemitism whenever and wherever we witness them. And today, these incidents occur in more than one dimension, they occur both in the physical world and in digital spaces.

Indeed, one of the most alarming aspects of contemporary antisemitism is the prevalence of online hate speech and conspiracy theories. Social media platforms and the internet have provided a platform for the rapid spread of anti-Jewish propaganda, stereotyping, and conspiracy theories. These digital spaces have enabled hatred to reach new audiences, amplifying the dangers of antisemitism on a global scale, which also translates into actions in the physical world:

All these developments underscore the importance of safeguarding democratic institutions and the rule of law. The events of Kristallnacht occurred with the tacit approval of the government, highlighting the catastrophic consequences when those in power do not actively protect the rights and dignity of all citizens. In our present times, we must remain vigilant in upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring the protection of all citizens.

Furthermore, these events emphasize the vital role of education and remembrance. In the light of recent events, we see that we must do everything possible to educate ourselves and future generations about the atrocities of the past. It is only through knowledge and understanding that we can combat ignorance and prevent the resurgence of hatred. And we must remain vigilant!!!

The relevance of Kristallnacht today lies in our collective responsibility to speak out against injustice and discrimination. To speak out against antisemitism, whenever and wherever we see it. It reminds us that remaining silent in the face of hatred is not an option. We must actively stand up for those who are marginalized, oppressed, or persecuted. As Elie Wiesel once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” While Austria may be militarily neutral, we will always speak out against antisemitism and will never be politically or morally neutral. This is why the Republic of Austria stands with Israel, right now, in one of the darkest moments for Israel and the Jewish people after the Holocaust. Austria has stated very clearly that Israel´s right to self-defence in the face of terror, as enshrined in international law, has to be recognized.

And this concerns all of us. The dangers of antisemitism are not confined to the Jewish community alone. They threaten the very fabric of our pluralistic and inclusive societies. When one group is targeted for hatred, it erodes the trust and social cohesion we all rely on. The fight against antisemitism is a fight for a world where all individuals can live free from fear and discrimination, regardless of their background, faith, or ethnicity. It is a fight for democracy.

As Austrian Federal President Van der Bellen stated, it is our duty and perpetual responsibility to take firm and decisive action against all forms of antisemitism. This also means confronting stereotypes and prejudices, promoting education and understanding, and advocating for strong laws and policies that combat hate speech and hate crimes. It means standing in solidarity with Jewish communities and rejecting any form of bigotry. This is why Austria has developed, as one of the first EU member states, an antisemtisim-strategy which is rapidly implemented.

In conclusion, the dangers of antisemitism are not a concern solely for the Jewish community; they are a concern for all of us who cherish the values of tolerance and inclusivity. As responsible and compassionate citizens, we must actively work to root out antisemitism in all its forms and ensure that our societies remain beacons of diversity, respect, and unity. Together, we can combat this menace and create a better, more tolerant world for generations to come. Thank you!