When Zipora “Zippy” Schorr helped start Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School’s Spotlight event, the goal was simple: Provide for families in need who were seeking a rich Jewish day school educational experience for their children.
The annual fundraiser, in its 33rd year, has accomplished just that, bringing together members of the community for a one-night celebration to raise funds for Beth Tfiloh’s scholarship fund.
“The purpose is for people to have a feel-good evening and to send a message that what we do is important work,” said Schorr, longtime director of education at Beth Tfiloh. “We are a school that encourages joy in Judaism, which is why we are so passionate about Spotlight.”
More than 1,400 people are expected to turn out for this year’s fundraiser on June 8 at Beth Tfiloh, 3300 Old Court Road in Pikesville, starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets have been sold out for weeks, and a wait list has been started in the event that seats become available.
Tony Award- and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth promises to dazzle attendees with songs from her new album, “The Art of Elegance.” She is no stranger to the Baltimore musical scene, having portrayed Velma Von Tussle in NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” based on Baltimore filmmaker John Waters’ 1988 movie.
Each year, at least one person or organization is honored for contributions made to the Jewish community at large. Past honorees include Louise and Morton Macks (2005) for their commitment to Jewish education — the Center for Jewish Education is named in their honor — and longtime Beth Tfiloh Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg.
This year’s honoree is Beth Jacob Congregation, which celebrates a 10-year anniversary of its union with Beth Tfiloh, the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in the country with more than 1,200 families.
“We are grateful for the many Beth Jacob families who have joined the family, because we are like one big happy family,” said Emily Levin, one of four co-chairs for Spotlight.
Levin, 47, a Beth Tfiloh congregant and preschool teacher, said, “Like so many others I know, [Beth Tfiloh] is a second home [and] a huge part of our family.”
It’s one of the reasons Levin and her husband, Scott, 49, felt compelled to serve as co-chairs after Schorr approached them about the opportunity.
In their role, the Levins, who serve on multiple Beth Tfiloh-related committees, have helped with ticket sales, food selection and sponsorships.
“We believe it’s of great importance to continue to give back to Beth Tfiloh,” said Scott and Emily Levin, whose children Ryan, 17, and Shayna, 14, attend the school. “We can’t even begin to imagine what Beth Tfiloh would be like without the vibrant and diverse population of children and families we currently enjoy.”
Schorr, meanwhile, said Spotlight has taken on a great importance to the Beth Tfiloh community in recent years, making its success even more pressing.
Nearly 50 percent of Beth Tfiloh’s 1,000 students receive some level of financial assistance, Schorr said. During the last five years alone, the school has more than doubled the financial aid it offers to $6 million.
“We need every bit of it, because Beth Tfiloh parents want to send their kids to our school,” Schorr said. “The needs of the community and society at large are enormous. So, we want to make sure that Jewish children are set up to receive the best education they can.”
Last year, Beth Tfiloh took in about $1 million, a number Schorr expects to reach again this year, though the final figure won’t be announced until the reception.
Sponsors who contributed at least $1,800 will be treated to a pre-event VIP dinner reception. All guests will take part in a dessert reception, featuring short presentations from Wohlberg, Schorr, a representative from Beth Jacob and the co-chairs.
“One thing we do not do is give lots and lots of speeches,” Schorr said. “We try to keep the program very efficient. And we say what we have to say because we want people to enjoy themselves and the entertainment we have to offer.”
Schorr hopes the event continues to grow in the coming years to support more families in need.
“We want to ensure the mission for Spotlight never changes, and while doing that, we hope to bring as much entertainment and joy to as many people as we can,” Schorr said.
For more information about Spotlight, visit bethtfiloh.com/spotlight.