On Oct. 24, Dena and Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman glowed as they shared the limelight, recognizing the contributions of others in tandem with their own 26 years of leadership at Chabad Intown. Dena explained, “Twenty-six is significant because it’s the numeric name for Hashem and fitting to celebrate this milestone…also because 25 was too ‘COVID-y” [to celebrate].”
She also announced the coincidence of Rabbi Schusterman’s 49th birthday to rousing applause.
During the hour-long reception at Summerour Studio on Bishop Street, guests mingled sharing stories about Chabad Intown’s beginning and relationships throughout the years.
Developer Anosh Ishak recalled, “There I was in 1995 at the zoning office, and I see this young rabbi (Eliyahu) doing the same thing. After we met, I made it a point to stay connected.”
Rabbi Dov Drizin laughed, “I may be Eliyahu’s earliest friend. At 12 years old, we were in the same school. I also take credit for being the matchmaker to connect him to Dena. More importantly, he is a wonderful mix as he is both spiritual and cerebral, a doer and a ‘feeler.’”
The formal program inside was a mix of speakers and an on-point video comprised of photos of the sentimental journey of the young Schustermans, starting with the preschool up to Rabbi Schusterman’s business “sechel” in having the vision to buy the Beltline property in parts as two separate deeds, and his ability to raise the money to do it. Donors and supporters appeared in the video like Ian and Carol Ratner, who referred to the couple as “unflappable with a very cool attitude.”
Schusterman was touted for seeing the potential under the surface in the Intown market as the suburbs seemed to be experiencing rapid expansion.
The video paid great tribute to Dena Schusterman’s education philosophy in establishing the Intown Jewish Academy with her combination of modern values, enthusiasm, and immersing children in understanding who they are. Supporters Leslie Zinn and David Frolich commented on the value of this education.
Special tribute was paid to the Young Professional Award recipients: Andres Bibliowicz, Nathan Kaplan, and David Weinstein, who donated their business and real estate expertise.
The video highlighted Susan Eisenstein who spoke of her late husband, Bernie, and his deeded gift to Chabad, and of the Kraus family, who endowed “Jeff’s Place” to help with those suffering from addiction, in memory of their late son, Moishe Jeff Kraus.
Barry Koch, Joy Maxey, Alan Pinstein, Chana Perloe and Howard Kaufman, Ryan Leveson, and Michael and Mindy Planer, were recognized in addition to those mentioned herein.
Rabbi Yossi New closed the video by complimenting how Chabad Intown serves as a moral compass in a society that “can have some poor moral values.” He concluded, “May you continue to be a beacon of light.”
The live program began with an introduction by Mutik Schusterman, the couple’s oldest son, as he entered to music from the science fiction classic, “Star Wars.” He was told to speak from the heart and that he did.
Later, Dena spoke of the mitzvah of the timing of the Hakhel ceremony, or “gathering together,” to read from the Torah every seventh year, and the importance of teaching conscious acts of kindness. Rabbi Schusterman shared his pride in “having no debt and paying the staff on time consistently.” He thanked donors and ended with appreciation of Dena as his life partner “in keeping him humble and the glue that holds it all together.”
Original framed art was passed out to honorees. A sequin-clad auctioneer took to the stage to raise money from bids as generous contributors stood and some challenged others to do the same.
Guests left with a gift bag of Chabad anniversary socks, 26th anniversary cookies, matches and a book by Rabbi Gershon Schusterman, “Why G-d Why? How to Believe in Heaven When it Hurts Like Hell.” The book details his experiences at age 38 when his wife passed away, leaving him with 11 children.
Inside the dining hall, Eli Brafman, of EB Caterer, loaded both ends of the room with delicacies from chicken and salmon to a sprawling salad bar in the middle. The Afro-Klezmer Orchestra turned up the volume with “Bah Mir Bis du Shane,” which means that “you’re grand,” and, in this case, the honorees are just that.
Chabad Intown is located at 730 Ponce de Leon Place in Atlanta.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Dena and Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman
- Chabad Intown
- Summerour Studio
- Anosh Ishak
- Ian and Carol Ratner
- Intown Jewish Academy
- Leslie Zinn and David Frolich
- Young Professional Award
- Andres Bibliowicz
- Nathan Kaplan
- and David Weinstein
- Susan Eisenstein
- Jeff's Place
- Rabbi Yossi New
- Motik Schusterman
- Why G-d Why? How to Believe in Heaven When it Hurts Like Hell
- Eli Brafman
- of EB Caterer
- Barry Koch
- Joy Maxey
- Alan Pinstein
- Chana Perloe and Howard Kaufman
- Ryan Leveson
- and Michael and Mindy Planer
- Afro-Klezmer Orchestra