Jack De Leon, Our Inspiration
Jack was born and raised in Seattle where he attended Franklin High School. While in high school he received his draft number and enlisted in the Army National Guard. After returning from active duty he attended Western Washington University.
At Western, Jack found his calling in the restaurant industry. After college, Jack went to work for a large restaurant chain. In 1980 he purchased his first full service restaurant in Bremerton. After finding success with his restaurant, he purchased another. In 1984 he sold both restaurants and went to work for Skipper's Fish and Chips. Jack travelled all over the west coast to open franchise restaurants in Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington. He eventually became district manager and remained in the position until 1995 when the company closed. Jack then began working at Albertsons, which is where he met some of his closest friends.
In 2007, Jack's son, his pride and joy, Abraham (AJ), enrolled at NYHS. Jack immediately started to volunteer for the school, focusing his efforts in fundraising. Jack believed strongly in the power of education, and specifically Jewish education, to bolster a community.
Jack had a long-standing commitment to NYHS. He served as President of the Board from 2013-2015 and chaired three galas, three Chanukah carnivals, the development committee and the Sefer Torah Dedication. In addition to his NYHS commitment, Jack had been a lifelong member of Ezra Bessaroth where he served as president and star volunteer.
When asked why Jack believed supporting NYHS was so important, his answer was simple:
Every thriving Jewish community needs a great Jewish high school. I try to do my part to ensure NYHS is that school. I also believe that parents, alone, cannot sustain a Jewish school. It is the responsibility of every one of us who cares deeply about our community.
On Sunday, January 1st, Jack passed away. He left behind his dear mother, Julie De Leon, sisters, Mary Tobin and Janice De Leon Gorelick and his son, Abraham (AJ), who will be accepting the honor in his name.
Beryl & Gary Cohen, AWARD WINNERS
Beryl and Gary are from Johannesburg, South Africa. After they got married, they moved to Portugal where they lived in a fishing village near Lisbon for two years before moving to San Francisco. It was in San Francisco that their son, Daniel (NYHS 2014), was born. Soon after, Gary got his dream job with Boeing in Wichita, Kansas. They eventually made their way to Seattle where their daughter, Ariella (NYHS 2017), was born.
Neither Gary nor Beryl attended Jewish day schools growing up, but when it was time to choose a school for their kids, they decided to enroll Daniel at JDS and Ariella soon followed.
"Coming from South Africa to the US, we didn't quite feel the same sense of community as we easily felt where we grew up. Joining the day school community became our family. We watched our kids blossom [in day school] and become proud to be Jewish."
Daniel graduated from NYHS in 2014 and spent two years in Israel. Now he is studying at Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim outside of Paris. Ariella will graduate this year.
Beryl and Gary have been wonderful volunteers for NYHS. Beryl hosted class parties, chaired two galas and serves on the NYHS Board as secretary. The Cohens are active in Hadassah and Kline Galland. Beryl and Gary have made the Shabbos Project Challah Bake a family affair. This year, over four hundred people gathered in November to bake challahs and connect Jewishly.
"We look for opportunities to connect people. If we each stopped thinking just of ourselves but rather focused on the needs of the community, we'd be a stronger and prouder community. That's our hope for the future."