2018 Friendship Circle Banquet Recap
LifeTown Announces the ‘Jerry Gottesman Center’
Friendship Circle announced Monday night that the new LifeTown building will be named “The Jerry Gottesman Center,” after the real estate developer and philanthropist who passed away in September 2017.
The announcement was made during the Friendship Circle Annual Banquet, and was met with cheers and support from the more than 900 people in attendance. LifeTown is a 53,000-square-foot therapeutic, educational and recreational center that is currently under construction in Livingston, NJ. Construction is expected to be completed in June 2018.
In explaining the naming, LifeTown CEO Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum said, “If there was a challenge, Jerry saw an opportunity to find a solution. If there was a need, Jerry made sure to help. In LifeTown, Jerry saw an opportunity to help people with special needs.
“Shortly before he passed away, Jerry stopped by LifeTown to tour the construction site and he was gushing with pride about everything that would be happening here,” Grossbaum continued. “It is with a tremendous sense gratitude, that we are honored to be able to remember him in this way.”
Paula Gottesman, Jerry’s wife, called LifeTown “a dream come true.”
“I’m thrilled. It will help everyone in the community, and as others [at the banquet] have said, it inspires the younger generation. It teaches them compassion. It is a dream for the community.”
After the formal banquet presentation the writing of a new Torah (Bible) scroll was started in Jerry’s memory. Paula Gottesman sat beside a Torah scribe and held the feather quill, as the scribe wrote the first letter in the Torah. The hand-written scroll will be completed in Israel in time for Jerry’s first yahrzeit, 19th of the Hebrew month of Elul, the anniversary of his passing on the Jewish calendar, which this year falls out on Aug. 30.
A role model for others
The FC banquet honored several New Jersey residents and businesses, including the Conforti Family and Air Group; Neil Greenstein and ShopRite; Barry H. Ostrowsky and RWJBarnabas Health; and Cheryl and Dr. Brian Greenwald.
Barry Ostrowsky said that Friendship Circle is a role model that he hopes other organizations, including his own, follow. “If we emulate the passion and progress we know will come from LifeTown,” Ostrowsky said. “There’s no telling where this will go.”
Neil Greenstein explained how he got involved with Friendship Circle after seeing the impact volunteering with FC had on his son Michael.
“Over the last three years I have watched my son learn about unconditional love, and the deepest meaning of friendship,” Greenstein said. “Michael will tell you that Justin has been his greatest teacher and his greatest friend. It seemed only natural that ShopRite should be a part of the wonderful experience that LifeTown is creating for children like Justin.”
At the event, Grossbaum also provided an update on the efforts to open LifeTown mortgage-free. To date, more than 1,850 families, businesses and companies have already donated $13.9 million to LifeTown. The final cost of the building will be $16.9 million. Hoping to close that gap, Grossbaum announced a final push to raise the remaining $3 million. To that end, he said, a challenge grant was started with a donor pledging $1 million if the community raises the remaining funds.
Learn more at www.LifeTown.com.