Left: Linda Schlesinger-Wagner. Top row: Rabbi Daniel Syme (left) and Lila Lazarus (right). Bottom row: Barry Franklin (left) and Evan Weiner (right).
Left: Linda Schlesinger-Wagner. Top row: Rabbi Daniel Syme (left) and Lila Lazarus (right). Bottom row: Barry Franklin (left) and Evan Weiner (right).

From a rabbi to a cardiology expert, honorees help others and give back to the community. 

It took three tries — scheduling and rescheduling amid COVID-19 concerns — but as they say, the third time’s the charm for the sixth annual Bates Street Society Dinner. The black-tie optional gala, hosted by The Community House in Birmingham and The Community House Foundation Board of Directors, will finally take place in person April 30. Five members of the local Jewish community will be among those honored for their contributions in wellness, education, culture, business and philanthropy.

“The Bates Street Society Dinner provides us with the opportunity to recognize ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It truly is a night of inspiration,” said William D. Seklar, president and CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation. “This is one day out of the year when we pause to celebrate the talents and contributions of those who exemplify our pillars with the goal of inspiring the broader community.”

This year’s honorees, known as the “Pillars of Vibrancy,” include:

• Barry Franklin, Ph.D., director, Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation, Beaumont Health, and professor, Internal Medicine, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

• Lila Lazarus, an award-winning news anchor and health reporter who serves as a spokesperson for Trinity Health

• Rabbi Daniel Syme, rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth El who has dedicated his life to raising awareness of the issue of youth suicide

• Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, fashion industry veteran and founder of skinnytees

• Evan Weiner, president and CEO of the Edw. C. Levy Companies, a 100-year-old construction materials company 

Also being recognized are former Detroit mayor and retired NBA player Dave Bing; Dominic DiMarco, president of the Cranbrook Educational Community; Duane Mezwa, M.D., dean of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Molecular Imaging at OUWB; and brand strategist Jessie Beld-Elliott. Recently retired Fox 2 News anchor Huel Perkins will serve as the evening’s emcee.

A scene from a former Bates Street Society Dinner
A scene from a former Bates Street Society Dinner

“I am honored by this recognition relative to the research-based wellness, rehabilitation and health enhancement interventions we’ve developed over the years,” Dr. Franklin said. “I am indebted to Drs. Seymour Gordon and Gerald C. Timmis, who provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to direct the preventive cardiology/cardiac rehabilitation program at Beaumont Hospital. Also, special thanks to Beaumont Health who invariably supported my career aspirations and paid me to do what I love doing over the past 37 years.”

Founded in 1923, The Community House is a nonprofit charitable organization that provides a place for personal, professional, philanthropic and recreational pursuits. Over nearly 100 years, it has served tens of thousands of residents and dozens of charities, hosted hundreds of classes, and thousands of private and public events. 

Seklar says the Bates Street Society Dinner, featuring cocktails, a three-course dinner, live entertainment and the awards ceremony, has recognized 58 honorees over the years and has flourished thanks to the mentorship and support of philanthropist Lois Shaevsky. The gala event also serves as a chance to induct individuals into the Bates Street Society for making significant charitable contributions to support the work and mission of The Community House.

“The Community House does an awful lot of outreach and good work in the community and probably doesn’t get as much credit for what they do,” said Weiner, who is being honored for business and philanthropy. “They’re a modest organization. There’s a lot of good that’s done there.”

Lazarus says her work in wellness and education are more important now than ever before in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to take new twists and turns.

“If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that good health is everything,” Lazarus said. “My entire career has been focused on giving people not only information about the latest health news and breakthroughs, but also doing whatever I can to inspire people to live healthier lives.” 

The Community House is located at 380 S. Bates Street in Birmingham. To learn more, visit: communityhouse.com or call (248) 644-5832.

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