Journal 2019

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Dear Congregants and Friends of ACI,

We are pleased to announce that the honorees of our 2019 Anniversary Journal are:

Iris Apfel, Sydelle Diner, Stephanie Luxenberg, and Irene Sprung.

These wonderful honorees represent synagogue affiliation and dedication covering an impressive span of years, extending back to ACI’s glorious beginnings and forward into its inspiringly revived present and dynamically exciting future.

Iris Apfel, an American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon, was born in Astoria. Her family belonged to the Astoria Center of Israel in its earliest years. Iris recalls her grandfather, Abraham Asofsky, serving as ACI’s first Gabbai. We are honored to welcome Iris back to her first Jewish home at ACI and to fete her as an ACI Journal honoree.

Sydelle Diner, beloved stalwart of the Astoria Center of Israel, has a long, distinguished, and loving history with this synagogue from her earliest childhood days. Thoroughly dedicated to ACI’s survival throughout many decades, she has held numerous leadership roles, and has been immensely supportive in seeing her beloved synagogue’s resurgence. She was a member of Rabbi Pearl’s first Ba’alat Mitzvah class, and we are moved to celebrate Sydelle as an ACI Journal honoree.

Stephanie Luxenberg and Irene Sprung comprised the Rabbi’s third Ba’alat Mitzvah class.  As each Ba’alat Mitvzah class has been honored in past journals, we are now proud to pay tribute to these most deserving, treasured, and sincere Ba’alot Mitzvah. They have become deeply involved in helping to rebuild, sustain, and grow ACI with great love and dedication. Stephanie brings her creativity to enhance educational and arts programming, and Irene is the devoted co-chair of the twice-yearly Blood Drives, which help save many lives.

The Astoria Center of Israel has been a part of the community for over 90 years and is designated as an Historic Religious Site on the National and State Registers.  For those who knew ACI in its earlier heyday, it is exhilarating to see it come back to life after a period of dormancy. Our congregation has been infused with excitement and spirit in recent years, under the leadership of Rabbi Jonathan Pearl. 

Our yearly Journal is our major fundraising effort. It helps support not only our staff and our aging building, but also our meaningful religious services and multi-generational programs and activities. These include our creative and successful MASKIT Program (ACI’s youth education Program), adult education, programming for families and singles, food drives, blood drives, and much more!

We hope that you will participate in honoring each and all of our worthy honorees with generous Journal ads, and by your attendance at the Journal service. The ad deadline is Friday, May 17th. Please submit your ads, your tributes to the honorees and to your own family members and friends, as soon as possible. And please join us on Friday evening, June 21st, at 7:30pm, when we will honor and celebrate the honorees. You will receive a copy of the Journal, and there will be a festive Kiddush following the service.

 We thank you for helping to make this an especially successful Journal for these very special honorees.


Rabbi Jonathan Pearl

Cynthia Groopman, Co-President

Judith Schloss Markowitz, Co-President

Susan Cohn, Co-Chair, 2019 Journal Committee

Ellen Greenberg, Co-Chair, 2019 Journal Committee