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Posted: Friday, September 7, 2012 10:19 am

A Tree of Life …

Joan and Chuck Whitehill, a couple whose hearts beat as one with the passion to make the world a better place, were honored at Landerhaven with JNF’s prestigious Tree of Life Award for their commitment to the Jewish National Fund and the state of Israel. Joan was unable to be present because of illness but was linked in to watch the proceedings on a computer. Her handsome, personable husband greeted and embraced every one of the 300 attendees as if he were running for public office (and wearing his favorite violet-colored shirt in honor of me, he quipped).

The evening featured an overview of the JNF by Rick Krosnick and a JNF video presentation. More than that, the evening glowed with affection for the Whitehills, in the heartfelt invocation by Rabbi Stephen Weiss and the accolades by event chairs Joni and Steven Wasserman in their personal tribute to the Whitehills. They presented the coveted Tree of Life Award to Chuck, who was not at a loss for words. “The Cleveland community has consistently supported the important work of JNF. The closer you look, the more compelling the JNF misson looks. Cleveland Rocks,” he told the crowd.

Faces in the crowd: Barnett Bookatz, who excels in words of welcome and is incoming regional JNF president; last year’s honoree Sol Siegal, speeding around in his wheelchair; Whitehill’s mom June Whitehill Dukhart and his brothers John and Bob Whitehill, all from Pittsburgh; Joan’s activist sister Anne Bloomberg; Rabbi Melinda Mersack and her husband Mark Jacobs; Gail and Ken Liffman; videographer Steven Hacker, who created a beautiful video tribute to the Whitehills; and my good friends Stanley Blum and Eppie and Sonny Shore.

On the waterfront …

Lake Erie provided the perfect backdrop to UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Bratenahl Circle of Friends “It’s a Small World” fundraiser at The Shoreby Club. The 450 guests enjoyed an international smorgasbord of appetizers, drinks and dinner and then were treated to a magnificent sunset on the lake. The event raised $150,000 to benefit the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at RB&C. “The funds raised are earmarked for promising, lifesaving phase-one and phase-two investigational drug trials for kids fighting cancer,” said Dr. John Letterio, UH pediatric hematologist and oncologist

Seen in the crowd: Donna and Sandor Schwartz, Linda and Bob Sanders, Marilyn and David Elk, Andrew Brickman, Jackie and Dr. Fred Rothstein, Betty Rosskamm, Eleanor Schwartz and Sharon Klonowski.

Gotta dance …

The Beachwood Community Center was transformed into a lively dance hall when an energetic group of dancers waltzed into Beachwood’s “Saturday Night Dances” program. Organized by veteran ballroom dancers Lillian and Hugo Howard, the club meets six times a year and allows dancers of all levels of expertise to dance the night away.

Rocking at Legacy …

The rock/oldies band Replay performed at the Legacy Village bandstand to an appreciative weekend crowd. The concert was part of the Lyndhurst shopping center’s summer Legacy Live series. The musical program was just one feature of a jam-packed schedule of live music, family entertainment and special events.

Out of this world …

Geoffrey Landis, Mars exploration scientist at NASA Glenn Research Center in Brookpark and an award-winning science fiction writer, was the “star” speaker at the Beachwood library evening session. Landis, a member of the Cajun Sushi Hamsters, also known as The Cleveland Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, discussed the art of science fiction writing from a scientific standpoint. “As I plot each novel, short story or fairy tale, I speculate about what might be or could be scientifically and how that circumstance would affect society, the world or the universe,” he said. “It is a great deal of fun, and I find that being a scientist and a science fiction writer are complementary pursuits.”

Welcome to the discussion.