By Adam Kramer
Queens Jewish organizations honored former Borough President Claire Shulman and welcomed her successor, Helen Marshall, during a gathering Monday night at Hillcrest Jewish Center.
The event was organized by the Queens Jewish Community Council as well as the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council, the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaways, the Jackson Heights and Elmhurst Kehilla, the Flushing Jewish Community Council and the Jewish Community Council Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.
“We have always had a wonderful relationship with the borough president and are looking forward to a continuation,” said Jan Fenster, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council. “We wanted to say thank you to Claire Shulman and welcome Helen Marshall.”
“Claire knows us,” she said, “and we want Helen to meet us.”
The evening at the center at 185th Street and Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows attracted more than 120 leaders of the borough’s Jewish community in addition to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) and City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis).
Even though everybody was there to celebrate the legacy of Shulman and the future under Marshall, every speaker touched on the situation in Israel and the war in Afghanistan.
Weiner said he came to the event because he wanted to pay “tribute to two Queens of Queens.” He said no person has shown what it means to and how to lead more than Claire Shulman.
Queens constituents are the most diverse in the country and those differences pose an extraordinary challenge, Weiner said, but the borough’s elected officials are up to the task.
“I have come by because of the great respect I have for Claire and Helen as well,” said Brown. “Here in Queens we have been very fortunate in the people we have elected.”
Weprin said he was there to acknowledge all of the work Shulman had done for the people of Queens — especially the Jews — in her 16 years as borough president. Today, he said, the borough is very fortunate that Marshall “is following in Claire Shulman’s footsteps.”
Shulman, who received a plaque thanking her for all she has meant to the borough’s Jewish community, said she had enjoyed the 16 years she spent as the borough’s leader. She said after stepping down she thought there would be time to sleep late, but instead has found herself extremely busy working at a number of non-profit organizations.
“I have enjoyed every moment I spent as borough president,” Shulman told the crowd. “The people who live here are the best.”
She said she has known Marshall for 30 years and was confident the transition would be very smooth. Many members of her staff were asked to stay on by Marshall.
“We are a team,” Marshall said. “Forget about retiring. As long as I am in office she will still be in office.”
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.