Philadelphia, PA—Jewish National Fund (JNF) will host its Tree of Life™ Award Breakfast at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Josh Shapiro, Montgomery County Commissioner, will receive the Tree of Life™ Award in recognition of his outstanding community involvement.
"I am honored to be selected by JNF to receive their Tree of Life™ Award,” said Shapiro. “JNF does so much good in our community and in Israel and I am proud to be associated with their good work.”
The event is happening in conjunction with Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) Philadelphia Flower Show, the world’s oldest and largest indoor flower show, which received 17 awards at last year’s International Festival & Events Association competition for excellence, including the top prize, the Grand Pinnacle Gold Award.
“Josh symbolizes courage, determination, and leadership in creating better lives of all people in his community and beyond,” said Marina Furman, JNF’s Executive Director for Greater Philadelphia and Southern Jersey. “By partnering with PHS in honoring such an outstanding leader, JNF wants to send a strong message of working together with the community, for the community.”
Shapiro himself credits the Soviet Jewry movement for drawing him to a career in public service. While still in elementary school, he took part in Operation HOPE, a grassroots letter-writing and advocacy program that connected American children with children from the Soviet Union. Shapiro began writing regularly to his pen pal Avi Goldstein, a boy about the same age from Tbilisi, Georgia. Goldstein’s family was considered refusniks, someone from the Soviet Union who was refused permission to emigrate.
Despite his young age, Shapiro went on to launch an incredible nationwide campaign to free Avi Goldstein and his family, creating the group “Children for Avi,” which had members from states across the country. Beyond the letters to Avi, Shapiro also decided to reach out to local authorities to make sure the story was heard. He spoke at rallies and made phone calls to radio stations. His efforts paid off when the Goldsteins were freed just in time for Avi to make a trip to Philadelphia for Shapiro's bar mitzvah.
The values Shapiro gained from this experience stuck with him and later guided him toward his path of public service. He was elected Montgomery County Commissioner in 2011 and was sworn in and elected unanimously to chair the three-member Board on January 3, 2012. In the past three years, he has helped lead a dramatic turnaround in Montgomery County by eliminating a large budget deficit, reducing overall debt, and replenishing the County reserve fund.
Prior to his election, Shapiro represented the 153rd Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for seven years. He got his start in public service as a Congressional staffer in Washington, DC, and as a sign of things to come, by age 25 he had already become a Congressional Chief of Staff, the youngest person on Capitol Hill serving in that role.
This year’s breakfast will be chaired by David L. Cohen, Robert D. Fox, William R. Sasso, Joseph S. Zuritksy, and Robert A. Zuritsky.
“The entire concept of this event is amazing,” said Robert Zuritzky. “It ties the biggest flower show in the country together with the first environmental charity, which has been around for over 100 years.”
The breakfast will take place on March 4, 2015 at 7:30 am at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, located at 1101 Arch Street in Philadelphia. Sponsorship information and tickets are available online at jnf.org/philadelphiatol. For more information, please contact Marina Furman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.832.0690 x861.