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Friedel offers dining for a good cause
Annette van de Kamp-Wright

 On Sunday evening, June 1, 6 p.m., the Board of Friedel Jewish Academy will host a gala dinner at Beth Israel. Board member Bruce Potash, whose daughter Sarah attends Friedel, is spearheading the effort to pull it all together.
 “We have a great group of dedicated parents and community members that have generously offered to put time and energy towards this. Jeff and Danielle Gordman, Aaron and Lise Sasson, Bob and Kim Goldberg, Jeff and Sherry Taxman, and my wife Linda and I are co-chairing the event. Phyllis Friedel is serving as honorary chairman,” Potash said.
 He expressed excitement about the evening’s program, which will include a raffle, as well as Israeli-themed food in honor of Yom Yerushalaim, since the Gala falls on that day. Yom Yerushalaim commemorates the capture of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
 “This is no ordinary raffle, where you bid on items and take them home,” he says. “Instead, we will be auctioning off various opportunities to sponsor the school, by adopting certain programs, such as swimming lessons, library expenses, or Shabbat in the classroom.”
 Susan Fellman-Witkowski, parent of first grader Gabrielle, and co-President of the Friedel Board, says: “One doesn’t necessarily need to be a parent, or have children who are currently students at the school. We welcome everybody in the Jewish community to get involved, and become part of the Friedel family. We look forward to our future together, working and growing within the community.”
 The Gala committee has an impressive list of honorees, who have, all in their own way, meant much to Friedel. “Donald Gerber’s children, Audrey and Ben, have graduated from Friedel,” Bruce Potash says, “but he has continued to support the school by serving on the Board and is extremely dedicated to education.”

Cookie Katskee and Don Gerber
 Committee member Danielle Gordman agrees. “Don Gerber is the epitome of whom we want involved in our school. While he could dedicate his limited free time to a myriad of other causes, he has chosen to continue his invaluable support to Friedel. Because of people like him, other students will have the wonderful experience his children had. His board involvement, humor, and musical talents make him a more than worthy recipient of this award.”
 Honoree Cookie Katskee is retiring as principal after a long and fruitful career. Soon she will pass the torch, and all involved with the school are eager for an opportunity to thank her for all she has done.
 “Cookie Katskee has brought the school to a whole new level,” Gordman says, “her experience in the public school system really helped legitimize our general studies program further. While it was already stellar, thanks to our incredible teachers, Cookie elevated it even more.” 
 Gordman is enthusiastic about being on the Gala committee; especially since daughter Harper started kindergarten at Friedel last fall, it is important for her and her husband Jeff to be involved as much as possible.
 “Jeff and I are committed to helping Friedel grow and flourish, and we are thrilled to be a part of this dinner. Raising community awareness and the necessary funds are key in Friedel’s continued success. While we understand that choosing the appropriate school for your children is a very personal decision, and Friedel is not everybody’s first choice, we cannot imagine Harper being anywhere else,” Gordman added. “To ensure a strong Jewish community, Omaha needs to have a healthy and thriving Jewish day school. More community involvement as well as financial support is always needed.”
 The final honorees of the Gala are Eric and Julie Phillips. Their daughter Lily graduated in
Julie and Eric Philips
2006, and daughter Eva currently attends sixth grade and will graduate this coming May. Eric Phillips is a member of Friedel’s Board, while Julie “IS the Art Program,” according to Danielle Gordman.
 “We are so very humbled by this recognition,” Julie Phillips says, “because Eric and I both feel it has been a privilege to send our daughters to such a special school. They have benefited so much from the warmth as well as the great education that the teachers at Friedel provide. Our dedication to the school goes hand in hand with the school’s dedication to our children. We are a little sad that our youngest daughter, Eva, is graduating in May, but secure in the knowledge that she will leave the school with a strong and confident identity. In addition, she is academically and socially prepared for what comes next.”
 The Gala will start off with a short cocktail party for underwriters and major donors at 5:30 p.m., after which the rest of the guests will arrive for drinks, appetizers, dinner, and dessert. Awards will be presented, followed by a concert with Jeff Taxman and friends. Nancy Mattly, owner of Culinary Services Catering, will cater the event.For more information, please call Friedel secretary Mary Jane Tweedy at 334.0517.