By ALAN SMASON
At 95 years young, Betty Kohn was ready last Saturday, March 31, for a night of revelry and a nod to haute couture as the Jewish Children’s’ Regional Service (JCRS) presented its biggest fundraising gala on record, the Jewish Roots of Fashion.
Dillard’s provided much in the way of top fashion designs as emcee Fred Herman served as the evening’s emcee. Clad in a special reflective suit that radiated the joy in the room for Kohn, Herman was the first person to stroll a massive runway erected to showcase some of the latest fashion designs provided by Dillard’s and others. Herman introduced a 15-minute fashion featuring professional models and others from within the Jewish community who dressed to the nines to help raise money for the many worthy programs of the JCRS.
The room took on a festive flair as the lights dimmed and high energy music accompanied the models who displayed fashions while striding the catwalk to the delight of the crowd.
Executive director Ned Goldberg noted that among her many endeavors the honoree was responsible, along with her late husband, in instituting the endowed Betty and Ira Kohn Camp Scholarship Fund at JCRS. “I don’t have to convince the people in this room the value of camp scholarships and what it does to carry on the traditions through it.”
Before calling Kohn up to speak, Goldberg presented her with a special Gary Rosenthal-designed award that was specially crafted for JCRS to present to her. In the hoopla of the evening, Kohn’s glasses were lost inside the podium, which provided a moment of hilarity for the crowd as Goldberg was forced to lend Kohn his reading glasses to substitute for hers.
“I am actually overwhelmed and so happy to see this wonderful gathering of family and friends from near and far. We’re all here in support of JCRS,” Kohn began. “I am proud to be a part of the JCRS family and hopefully will continue to support this important organization.”
Supported by event c0-chairs Sue Singer and Loel Weil Samuel, Kohn then walked along the runway herself as the Pharrell tune “Happy” played in the background.
Upon her return to the podium, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” as a special cake lit by sparklers was brought out to connote Kohn’s recent birthday.
Herman ended his portion of the evening by bringing up a special toast to Kohn that her daughter Fran had composed in honor of her birthday. He re-read the piece: “‘A toast to my amazing role model on her 95th birthday and the JCRS honoree this year,'” he began and then noted a special anagram she had arranged of the letters of her mother’s name.
“‘B – beautiful Betty Bloch; E – elegant, eye-catching, exquisite; T- thoughtful, true friend and talented; T- treasured; Y- youthful, young and young-at-heart; K- kind and knowledgable; O- organized, on your side forever; H – happy, heartfelt and hospitable; and N – noble deeds and Napoleonville (her birthplace).
A raffled for a diamond and sapphire bracelet was donated by Lee Michaels Jewelers and won by Leon Zoller. Silent auctions provided a number of special experiences and items that raised needed funds for the nation’s oldest Jewish children’s charity.
Photos for the event (20 photos for each page) can be viewed here: