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Synagogue Nets Camp Honor

North Shore Synagogue was honored at the Eisner/Crane Lake Camps’ Fifth Assembly for sending more than 10 campers to one of the three Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) camps in the local area: Eisner Camp, Crane Lake Camp and Six Points Sci-Tech Academy.

The Eisner/Crane Lake Assembly is a yearly event held at either Eisner or Crane Lake where donors and clergy gather to celebrate the camp’s accomplishments and learn about the summer’s activities at the URJ camps.

The URJ camps are a close network of 14 camps centered on creating memorable experiences for Jewish children each summer.  The first camp opened its doors in 1951 and the URJ camps are now the largest Jewish camping system in the world.

For more than 55 years, the URJ’s Eisner Camp, located in the Berkshires, has provided children with the best combination of an outdoor summer overnight camping experience with a vibrant Reform Jewish living and learning environment. The staff encourages the growth of Jewish values in campers, and programming is carefully created to nurture a positive Jewish identity.

Crane Lake Camp, also located in the Berkshires, has provided the same experience for the past 18 years, and this summer was the first camp season at Six Points Sci-Tech located outside of Boston. Sci-Tech provides the same Jewish values and has an added focus on science and technology.

During the course of the summer, clergy members are invited to visit the camps. North Shore Synagogue’s own Rabbi Deborah Bravo had the unique opportunity to serve as a member of the staff at both Sci-Tech and Crane Lake camps this summer.

Rabbi Bravo shared that “an experience at a URJ Summer Camp is unique and impacts our youth not only during the summer, but for the months and years to follow. Our campers learn how to integrate Judaism into their everyday lives, and return home loving Judaism, and become real ‘menshes’ as one parent recently shared with me. I look forward to sending many more children to experience URJ camping in the future.”

Denise Levine, a North Shore member who resides in Plainview, is a member of the Eisner/Crane Lake Camps Board. Levine, her husband Jeff, who is also Brotherhood co-President at the synagogue, and Cantor Rich Pilatsky were on hand to receive the honor and visit with campers.

“North Shore Synagogue is a great supporter of URJ Camping and Israel Programs and promotes both at synagogue events and youth group events,” said Levine. “Our youth group is very successful, keeping many of our teens engaged throughout high school. Our program is recognized throughout the Reform movement and we have many kids that hold leadership positions both in the synagogue, regional and North American level. Children are encouraged to participate in both youth group and camp from the time they join the temple.”

For more information about North Shore Synagogue’s youth program and Jewish camping, contact full-time director of youth engagement, Emily Besthoff at

Syosset School Scores High

Syosset High School was ranked 84th on Newsweek’s recent poll of the top high schools in the U.S.

The list, released earlier this month, highlights 500 schools across the nation that best prepare its students for college. At number 84, Syosset High School is the highest ranked school in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Centered on college preparedness, Newsweek used research partner Westat to gather data under six categories: college enrollment, graduation rate, counselor-to-student Ratio, holding power, SAT/ACT test scores and AP/IB test scores. DSC_0084

“We are all very proud of our district’s accomplishments,” said Syosset Principal Giovanni Durante. “Our ranking is a testament to the dedication of our community and school board as well as the hard work of our teachers, support staff and students.” [Read more...]

Syosset Breaks Into News

Michelle Mackonochie was in the middle of another ordinary shift slinging wings at a local eatery when she got a phone call from a small town in Michigan.


Syosset’s Michelle Mackonochie landed an anchor position in Michigan.

After years of studying to be a news anchor in college — and after disseminating hundreds of job applications post-college — the Syosset native landed the weekend news anchor and reporter position at WBKB in Alpena, Michigan. She’s been there since Aug. 20, reporting on everything from local fairs to hard news — and she knows this is merely the first step in a budding news career.

“It is such a blessing to have this job; such an incredible start,” said Mackonochie. “After so many disappointments along the way, my career feels like an endless open road right now. It is such an awesome opportunity to be on camera every single weekend.”

Check out photos of Michelle Mackonochie here.

Mackonochie’s road to weekly exposure in Alpena was dotted with many hardships and rough patches along the way. Before landing the anchor job at WBKB, the 23-year-old dealt with plenty of rejections and disappointments. But instead of succumbing and resigning herself to a lifetime of local part-time jobs, Mackonochie persevered and through hard work, put herself in the position to receive that life-changing phone call while waitressing.

After graduating Syosset High School, Mackonochie entered Ithaca College with a strong passion for television. During her four years at college, Mackonochie joined the Ithaca College Television team and worked in the sports, news and entertainment departments while taking external classes specializing in broadcast performance. She was the weekly field correspondent on Ithaca’s news station, Newswatch 16, and also served as assistant producer. She was also the reality television correspondent, as well as floor director for the school’s football post-game show.

Cramming all of those titles into her schedule was a monumental task, especially given the fact that she had plenty to learn when she arrived at college.

“That first year at Ithaca was a shock,” she said. “Syosset High School is a great school, but it doesn’t have a TV station. A lot of my college classmates were coming from schools that did have TV, so they already knew all the editing, cameras, lighting, mic. I was starting from the beginning. But the best way to learn is to do something, fail, do it again, fail again, then keep doing it until you know it.”

And though picking up and moving to Michigan from Long Island might seem scary, Mackonochie had a measure of experience in that department. During her junior year at Ithaca, Mackonochie entered into the school’s internship program and flew out to Los Angeles with no job and only the motivation of her professors. In L.A., she worked at The Style Network serving as an intern for the talent and casting department.

“The internship taught me so much. It threw me into the real world of the job search,” she said. “Working at The Style Network, we shared a building with E! and I would see people like Joan Rivers walking around. It was like a fairy tale. But at the same time I was really in the industry doing a real job. People were counting on me to do a job and it forced me to learn and learn fast.”


Mackonochie with her parents, Joanne and Mike

Upon graduating, Mackonochie found herself lost in the post-college wilderness of job interviews, applications and cover letters. Mackonochie addmitted to at first taking a relaxed approach to the job search, but when that proved fruitless, her father, Mike, was there to provide the motivation she needed.

“In January of this year, my dad told me that if I wanted a job, I had to fight for it,” she said, adding that she also received encouragement from her mother Joanne and her brothers Michael and James. “With his help I applied to more than 200 stations all over the country.”

Mackonochie remembered a speaker at Ithaca College said, “In order to get where you want, you have to leave Long Island.” Remembering that advice, Mackonochie expanded her search to all corners of the country. And while on a family vacation in Florida — where Mackonochie spent more time applying to jobs on the computer than sunning herself on the beach — the ambitious young woman got a response from that small station in Alpena.

While the nearest mall is about three hours away, and the nearest decent bagel is more than 800 miles away, Mackonachie is adjusting to life in her new home. However, there is no way of knowing how long it will be her home, as opportunities in the media industry are predictably unpredictable.

“I’ve made my apartment here very homey, but people told me I shouldn’t spend too much effort on it because my next job could be in who knows where,” she said. “And that is exciting to me. It’s cool. Who else can say they’ve lived in so many different places?”

And no matter where this media tour takes her next, Mackonochie will always remember and appreciate the toughest parts of her journey, from Long Island to a small town in Michigan.

“Tell yourself that you can do it. Represent yourself the best you can and you can do whatever you want,” she said. “Millions of people are fighting for the same spot, you have to show just how better you are. But it’s ok to accept help when you need it.”

Shabbat Under The Stars

Under a moon-lit sky and against a backdrop of stained glass windows, Temple Or Elohim conducted Frirday night services in the temple’s parking lot Sept. 5. The event was the seventh annual “Shabbat Under the Stars,” featuring a complimentary barbecue, a performance by the temple’s five-piece band, and an interactive and rousing service, led by Rabbi Harvey Abramowitz and Cantor David Katz.


Rabbi Abramowitz (left) and Cantor David Katz lead the Shabbat Under the Stars service.
(Photos by George Haber)

Welcoming the informal congregation of more than 300 local residents, with some coming from nearby Locust Valley, Plainview and as far south as Wantagh, in addition to Jericho, Syosset and Woodbury.

“This event is an expression of community and celebration,” said Abramowitz.

The barbecue offered turkey and beef burgers, hot dogs, chicken and salads and beverages, sponsored by Hasson Caterers, Ben’s Deli and the New Country Deli. [Read more...]

Gym Delivers Health To Syosset

Tara Notrica is your typical 49-year-old mother of two. Along with her husband Barry, the Merrick mom is kept busy by her 14-year-old son Jared and 10-year-old daughter Samantha. One more thing: she has been battling Mast Cell disease in addition to other autoimmune diseases for the past eight years. Josh York, the CEO and founder GYMGUYZ, an in home personal training company that comes to the home of clients all over the island, has been working closely with Notrica to help her cope with her disease.


Josh York and his crew brings the gym home.

“GYMGUYZ is all about the three C’s: convenient, creative and customizable workouts,” said York. “We come to the setting of your choice from homes, offices, churches, and bring our fully loaded van, which has 365 pieces of equipment,” he continued.

In what first began as a vision and a laptop in York’s parents’ dining room, GYMGUYZ set a goal to become the largest personal training franchise in the world. Some of the services include weight loss, body building, senior fitness, pre and post natal, nutritional counseling, and professional sports conditioning.

“We have over 30 employees, including our fitness coaches,” said York, who added that GYMGUYZ works with individuals with MS, muscular and nervous system disorders, cancer and other issues. “Tara is under the care of our head coach Matt, but I always see her on follow up visits. She’s a very special person and has been with us since day one.” [Read more...]

Songs And Prayer In Syosset

North Shore Synagogue, 83 Muttontown Rd., invites one and all to attend a free evening of song and prayer in celebration of Selichot on Sept. 20., starting at 8:30 p.m. with a musical program by guest performer Noah Aronson, followed at 10 p.m. with Selichot services with clergy Rabbi Deborah K. Bravo, Rabbi Jaimee B. Shalhevet and Cantor Rich Pilatsky.

Light refreshments will be served after services. There is no charge to attend, and the event is open to the public. For information, call 516-921-2282.

Aronson is an energetic and soulful composer/performer whose unique musical style propels his music into communities across the country and in Israel. His latest project ‘Left Side of the Page’ sets to music some of the poetic selections from the Mishkan Tefilah Prayer Book. Aronson’s music is now sung in progressive communities worldwide and has been included as part of the cantorial curriculum at the Hebrew Union College Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.

Selichot is the name of the prayers that are recited in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, the holiday that ushers in the Jewish New Year. Selichot prayers provide a time to focus attention on preparing for a new year with a new start, committing to life affirming and healing, part of an ancient tradition of beginning the New Year with a fresh start.

For more information, visit

Syosset Walks For Alzheimer’s Cure

Eight hundred people from around Long Island and out of state braved the 90-degree temperature to walk at the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center 11th annual fundraiser event at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration recently.


Syosset’s Robert Rankel holds his plaque with Bethpage’s Team Cousins. (Photos by Cynthia Paulis)

The event featured a Coney Island theme, with 90 teams walking the paths around the village. The event raised close to $150,000 and the donations are still being tallied. Executive director Mary Ann Malack-Ragona was pleased with the turnout given the sweltering heat of the day. Malack-Ragona said two grants were recently awarded, with $5,000 to the New York Stem Cell Foundation and $3,000 to Dr. Irving Gomolin, chief division of Geriatric Medicine at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola.

“The Stem cell Foundation makes stem cells not from embryos, but from skin grafts of people who have Alzheimer’s disease,” said Malack-Ragona. “This is ground breaking research. The second grant to Dr. Gomolin is doing a study on how the removal of Namenda from the marketplace which is set to take place at the end of the year and the use of the substitute, an extended release formulation will impact the blood levels of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.” [Read more...]

Syosset Rider Jumps To Major Win

When Syosset’s Danielle Cooper and Calantus strutted back to the ingate after their Bayer’s Legend $250,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix jump-off round, they exuded confidence. “You did your part — you rode great,” said Cooper’s trainer Todd Minikus with a pat to Calantus’ rump.


Cooper expects to put the majority of her winnings back into Calantus, the horse she rode to victory.

Cooper was one of six jump-off contenders over a course that tested both horse and rider. Danny Foster presented a true challenge, making each horse and rider work for their hefty checks. Twenty-five combinations qualified from Saturday’s round and six advanced to the jump-off to make a final bid for historic prize money.

Just hours before her trainer took up his throne in the Zoetis Million, Cooper went to the bank with a $75,000 check after the Bayer’s Legend Jumper Prix. The young rider laughed when she admitted the money would go right back to the horses. [Read more...]

Syosset Ponzi Scammer Pleads Guilty

A Syosset man pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in a Ponzi scheme that prossecutors said bilked $30 million from 200 unwitting Wall Street investors.

According to court filings from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Eric Aronson, 46, admitted to using his victims’ money to fund his personal expenditures — including vacations, watches, jewelry and cars — from approximately Aug. 2006 to Dec. 2010. The district attorney said Aronson and his coconspirators issued promissory notes to investors and promised to use the proceeds to finance shipments of Permapave paving stones from Australia to the U.S. In reality, Aronson, together with his coconspirators, operated a Ponzi scheme whereby some investors were paid returns on their investment from the funds the defendant obtained from other defrauded investors.

 ”The defendant used the promise of sound securities investments to steal investor funds. He pretended to be a legitimate businessmen but he was no more than a common thief,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Through his actions, the defendant caused the financial ruin of many, all the while enriching himself. This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who lie to, cheat, and steal from the investing public.”

 Aronson faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Brookville Resident Shines

While many people may dream of doing something as extraordinary as singing the National Anthem at a major sports event, it’s become tradition for AHRC resident, Adam Levine.

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, Adam, 47, born with Down syndrome, stepped up to belt out the National Anthem for the New York Mets. Performing annually at Citi Field since 2010, Adam approached home plate with a veteran state of mind. Following his performance, Adam received a standing ovation as he gleefully skipped off the field, running into his parent’s arms with a gratified smile. The long list of Adam’s fans included 100 #TEAMADAM supporters from AHRC Nassau.BrookvilleB

From a young age, Adam was drawn to music and the arts. Regularly attending theater shows and rehearsals put on by his father’s theater group, Theater II of Glen Cove, Adam really found a connection. [Read more...]