Henry Winkler shares family stories at MEGA 2019

Henry Winkler took the stage in front of more than 500 guests of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s MEGA 2019 at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort March 7.

The Emmy Award winning actor, director, producer and best-selling author shared his parents’ escape from 1939 Berlin, the loss of his uncle to the Holocaust and how his struggles growing up with learning disabilities lead him to Hollywood and a can-do attitude towards life, according to press release.

“Henry was so engaging. His stories of his struggles with dyslexia as a youth were poignant and powerful,” Marty Haberer, president and CEO of the Federation, said in a prepared statement. “Because my parents also fled from Germany in the late 1930’s, I felt a real connection with him as well.”

A highlight of the evening was spirited bidding for a leather jacket with a signature from Mr. Winkler, who jumped up to help auction the item and then added a second jacket and lunch with him in Los Angeles.

His efforts brought in $40,000 for the work of the Federation, a release states.

Roman Polonsky, head of The Jewish Agency For Israel’s Unit for Russian-speaking Jewry, spoke about the work the federation helps make possible in Israel and the former Soviet Union.

The event was also an opportunity for the federation to present its highest award, the Medal of Honor, which went to Julee Landau Shahon for her decade-long commitment to the Federation and the community.

“It means so much to me to be able to work for the betterment of the Jewish community and to make a difference,” Ms. Landau Shahon said in a prepared statement.

“I am very honored that my two friends, Shari and Irwin Kanefsky, both past Medal of Honor winners, were able to present the award to me. I am humbled to have my name alongside the outstanding leadership of our Jewish community.”

In addition to the presentation of the Medal of Honor, the federation presented Morrie Aaron with the Harold and Jean Grossman Award, Benjamin Ellis with the Sy Clark Young Leadership Award, Danielle Breslow Gross with the Lee Amada Young Leadership Award and Gesher Disability Resources’ Special Needs Community Model Seder received the Belle Latchman Community Service Award.

Danielle Breslow Gross and Benjamin Gross, and Sonia and John Breslow all co-chaired the event. With the conclusion of MEGA, the federation annual campaign is at $1.8 million and fundraising efforts continue through December 2019.

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