Illyssa Rubin competes in the Voices for Meir Panim Competition, Feb. 24.
Illyssa Rubin competes in the Voices for Meir Panim Competition, Feb. 24. (Photo Credit: Harrison Hurt , Carroll County Times)

American Friends of Meir Panim, held "Voices for Meir Panim," a winner event raising money for Meir Panim, an organization dedicated and committed to ending hunger in Israel. There are impoverished children, families, single adults, elderly - including holocaust survivors - living at poverty levels in Israel. Meir Panim, thankfully, with contributions, has available relief centers to meet their various needs!

This was the very first voice competition finals, showcasing talented students in middle and high school (7th through 12 grade).

Prior to this evening, preliminary eliminations reduced the large selection of 45 talented students to six finalists.

The middle school winner was Illyssa Rubin, an 8th grade student at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

The High School winner was Janelle Licharowicz, a 12th grade student at Redeemer Classical Christian School. Janelle even composed her own song!

Both winners received an iPad mini and a recording session in a studio.

Congrats Illyssa, Janelle and all the vocal applicants for their involvement and participation in fun(d)raising vital, necessary dollars to eradicate hunger in Israel!

In brief, equally talented judges for this event included:

James Harp, artistic director of the Mondell Lyric. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Joann Kulesza, has twenty-five years in the field of Opera, is presently music director of the Opera Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. He is also the music director and conductor of the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, a chorus of 35-45 members.

Edward Polochick, has been music director of Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra since 1998. He is also artistic director of Concert Artists of Baltimore, an all-professional vocal ensemble of 70 musicians, now celebrating its 22nd season. Ed also has been director of choral ensembles and opera conductor at the Peabody Conservatory.

Nan Rosenthal, currently community outreach/development director of Concert Artists of Baltimore. Her experience ranges from summer stock to numerous performances over the years with musical theater, drama, dance companies and TV productions.

An added bonus this evening was an enjoyable concert by American Idol finalist, the personable and high energy Elliott Yamin.

Richard Sher, TV personality, did a great job emceeing the fast moving program agenda.

The philanthropic Phyllis and Leonard Attman did a great job chairing this unique fun(d)raising "Voices for Meir Panim." Their equally dedicated co-chairs included Cantor Avi Albrecht (Beth Tfiloh); Hazzan Emanuel (Manny) Perlman (Chizuk Amuno); Leslie Goldberg and Jonathan Welfeld. Plus, an enthusiastic committee of 40 members, too numerous to list.

Special thanks Harrison Hurt, event photog and Ed Hoffman, kosher caterer, catered the tasty dessert at the private VIP reception, prior to this evening's competition finals.

Note: Happy 104th, yes, 104th birthday to Phyllis Attman's beloved mom, Rose Lazinsky, celebrating her birthday this week. We all wish Rose good health and many, many more wonderful birthday celebrations! L'Chaim!

American Friends Meir Panim is a non profit organization, founded 13 years ago in 2000, headquartered in New York. Their heartfelt goal is to have available immediate and long term relief to the impoverished in Israel regardless of background, religion or ethnicity and preserving their personal dignity.

Thousands of free meals a day are available through Meir Panim's generous network of food and social service centers. In fact, relief centers operate in 50 cities throughout Israel.

These relief centers include free restaurants. There is a network of 14 completely free restaurants throughout the country. These restaurants are a dignified way to feed the needy in different cities.

Daily packaged meals are delivered to thousands of needy children, the homebound, elderly and disabled. Meir Panim also distributes food shopping cards that make prepaid foods available.

Also available is a "Power of Giving" program that distributes donated clothing, furniture and home appliances to those in need.

There are adult vocational-training sites and after school youth clubs in many Israeli cities for children at risk.

Nine summer camps last year had 2,000 disadvantaged children enrolled!

Meir Panim Meals-On-Wheels are delivered daily to the elderly and homebound. Volunteers deliver 180,000 meals annually!

The Mortimer Zuckerman & Abigail Zuckerman Israel Nutrition Center is a revolutionary new facility that will host the largest food production and distribution facility in Israel, providing up to 30,000 nutritious meals every day to needy individuals daily.

This Nutrition Center will also be used to provide training courses for the unemployed, giving them encouragement and new opportunities. Emotionally and developmentally disabled individuals will be employed at this center so they can develop the skills necessary to become active members of Israeli society.

Israel's greatest threat is that one-in-four Israelis live in severe poverty. An estimated 850,000 children live below the poverty line, barely receiving one warm meal a day! As many as 50% of all Israeli families cannot afford basic food necessities. Economic hardships are up and it's getting worse.

Over 1,000 men, women and children attended this very first exciting "Voice Competition," fun(d)raising dollars to benefit Meir Panim.

New York representatives attending included David Birnbaum, executive director, and Michael Fromm, national chairman.

For more info you can call toll-free at 1-877-736-6283 or e-mail info@meirpanim.org.

If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution, please mail to: Meir Panim, 5316 New Utrecht Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11219. Thanking you in advance! Respectfully, Phyllis and Lennie Attman, chairmen; Cantor Avi Albrecht, Hazzan Emmanuel (Manny) Perlman, Leslie Goldberg, Jonathan Welfeld co-chair-people and committee members, "Voices Competition!" Also, this columnist! Todah Rabbah!

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