The close connections between family, community and education in the Jewish community were the focus of the celebration at Rudlin Torah Academy’s annual Chesed Award Gala on June 5, as RTA honored Drs. Bill and Gail Moskowitz.
The dinner was a huge success and a joyous occasion, as the speakers and honorees all pointed to the integral role RTA plays in Richmond’s Jewish community and how vital it is for the school to prosper and grow.
Bill and Gail Moskowitz, who established the Moskowitz Family Legacy Fund on RTA’s behalf last year, said they were touched to be so honored by a school that had made them feel welcome from the first day they arrived.
Featured speaker Dr. Richard M. Joel, the immediate past president of Yeshiva University, said that upon walking into RTA, “You are greeted by a wave of warmth.”
It is essential to the future, he said, that Jewish children have the opportunity to learn Torah in a day school environment and receive a quality secular education as well. “We are blessed to be living in a land of plenty and a time of opportunity and we all want our children to thrive,” he said. “I hope you understand how special it is that you are a neighborhood, you’re a community.”
More than 160 people attended the event at the Weinstein JCC. RTA also honored Tony Wharton and Dr. Karen Wharton with the ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) Award and 20-year veteran teacher Jane Samora with the Double YOD (Years of Dedication) Award.
Joel, who served as YU president for 14 years and helped establish Birthright Israel while he was president of Hillel, said Richmond’s Jewish community and RTA itself are “priceless.” He was introduced by Chuck Lessin, a close friend and RTA supporter.
Joel recounted talking with students about their recent trip to Monticello and the detailed knowledge they displayed of Thomas Jefferson, including the fact that he and John Adams died on the same day.
Bill and Gail Moskowitz were introduced by their daughter, Juliana, a 2008 graduate of RTA. She spoke of her admiration for her parents and their evident love for each other and the community. Gail Moskowitz, Ph.D., a licensed clinical social worker and assistant professor in the VCU School of Social Work, is a past president of RTA. Bill Moskowitz, M.D., is a professor and chief of pediatric cardiology at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
Tony Wharton, a freelance writer, is past president and treasurer of the Parent Volunteer Association, co-editor of the “Chesed Journal” and the “Manna From Heaven” cookbook, and member of many other RTA committees. Dr. Karen Wharton, who is the associate medical director for Pediatrics, working in the Bon Secours Neonatal ICU, has been on the RTA Board of Directors for five years, co-chaired the Chesed Awards Dinner Committee, and served on many other committees. The Whartons were introduced by longtime friend Rich Lehman.
At the end of the evening, outgoing RTA President Rebecca Kalman-Winston introduced her successor, Eric Shoenfeld, who was formally installed the following day.
Located at 3809 Patterson Ave., Richmond, Rudlin Torah Academy is in its 52nd year of providing quality full-time elementary education to Jewish children in the Richmond area. The academy is accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent
Schools, and RTA students continue to excel in national standardized testing, with classes generally performing above the 90th percentile.