Nearly 200 guests attended the Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. (SHAI) picnic at Jonathan L. Ielpi Firefighters Park on Grace Avenue throughout the afternoon of July 29.
The event coincided with the Jewish holiday Shabbat Nachamu, which is a Shabbat of Comfort that takes place the week following the fast of Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
SHAI hosted the picnic on Sunday so that more members of the community could attend and gather together to enjoy live music from 1 to 6 p.m.
The picnic was organized and promoted by SHAI board member Shahruz Shahery, who coordinated the use of the park with the Great Neck Park District and the Village of Great Neck Plaza. Shahram “Mike” Delafraz of SHAI was also one of the event’s main organizers.
SHAI was founded in 1992 to proudly preserve the cultural heritage of Persian-Jewish families and individuals, while embracing assimilation. The organization, which now counts more than 1,200 families as members, supports senior citizens’ health and wellness as the largest nonprofit sponsor of the Town of North Hempstead’s Great Neck Social Center; has awarded more than $2 million in need-based higher-
education scholarships; engages Persian Jews in multiple youth, family, single, professional and senior events; subsidizes a summer day camp and teen leadership program; partners with local institutions to educate and support the community; and awards merit scholarships in memory of esteemed members of the community.
Many local dignitaries attended the celebration, including Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilwoman Anna Kaplan and Nassau County Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso. Also in attendance were Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender and Great Neck Park District Commissioners Robert A. Lincoln, Jr., Frank Cilluffo and Tina Stellato.
“The wonderful people of Great Neck made this event a success and a day of pride in SHAI’s 26 years of service,” said Delafraz. “The picnic was full of happy, dancing and clapping individuals who came together to celebrate the melting pot of this amazing community.”