‘Couture and Cocktails’ draws 500


They came to see their friends. They came to enjoy dinner. They came to see the fashions. They came to support Israel.

The Women’s Connection of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis ‘Couture and Cocktails’ was a sold out with 540 people attending the event at the Frontenac Hilton Hotel. The evening of “celebration, fashion and bling” was held in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary. Toby Chod, Heidi Silberman, and Stacy Siwak chaired the festivities.


“We are here to highlight the Jewish Federation’s ongoing relationship with Israel,” Siwak said.

The film Just One More Thing was shown on two large screens to highlight some of the ways Jewish Federations make a difference in Israel and around the world. Women of all ages from throughout the community were seated at tables named for cities, sites and organizations in Israel such as: Tzfat, the Tower of David and the Israeli Defense Forces. One of the goals of the evening was to show participants a sample of Israel’s history and cultural life not often seen in newspapers or on television or portrayed in movies.

“Israel is a small country at the crossroads of the world,” Chod said. “It inspires and connects us to our Jewish roots.”

Rick Recht and the Beit Israeli Choir opened the program. The Israeli vegetarian meal was catered by Kohn’s Kosher Market.

Honorary chair Galia Movitz was joined by her great nieces and nephew, Sophie, Lili and Jeremy Toledano who walked down the runway wearing Israeli children’s couture. Movitz led everyone in the Hatikvah and the Hamotzi.

“It’s all about celebrating Israel,” Movitz said.

Washington University (Wash U) student Ariel Garber said she was “having a great time.” She was part of two full tables of students from the school. Garber is active in the Wash U Students for Israel and the Israel Public Action Committee. She is leaving next week as part of the Mayanot Birthright Israel trip.

Wash U student Robyn Michaelson was also happy to be at the event and excited about going to Israel on the Mayanot trip.

“I was supposed to go to Israel the summer after my bat mitzvah,” Michaelson said. “But that was the start of the Second Intifada.”

Chana Novack of Chabad on Campus alerted the students to the Women’s Connection program. She said 114 students are participating in the Mayanot Birthright Israel from Washington University this summer.

“It is very exciting for the students to be here,” Novack said. “They rarely get the opportunity to interact with the St. Louis Jewish community. They are actually in the middle of finals this week but they chose to take time out of their studies to be here and celebrate Israel.”

The highlight of the evening was the fashion show featuring outfits by Israeli designer Biya Ramar. Twenty-one Women’s Connection models wore the fashions which were accented with jewelry provided by St. Louis’s Mavrik Jewelry. Fashion show moderators Faith Berger and Susan Sherman matched something special about each model with unique information about Israel: from agricultural to medicine and politics to technology.

Missouri State Representative Rachel Storch’s understanding of the challenges in the political world inspired information about Golda Meir as the first woman Prime Minister of Israel. Models Debbie Polinsky and Lynn Spector are sisters which offered the opportunity to remind participants of the “sister-city” relationship St. Louis has with Yokne’am-Megiddo. Kaleidoscope Israel co-chair and model Diane Gallant modeled a jacket of many colors which was a perfect segue way to talk about the many upcoming events during the next couple of weeks to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary.

“They handled this beautifully,” Susan Levko said. “Everything was delightful from the reception to the dinner. This large turnout shows women want to be part of a cohesive community and are interested in helping Federation grow.”

Judi Scissors was also thrilled with the program.

“It is great to be here with over 500 women and to celebrate Israeli accomplishments,” Scissors said. “Women’s Connection programs have a wide appeal in the community.”

Sandy Brickman agreed.

“I think it is a sign of the times,” Brickman said. “It is a real special feeling to be Jewish, being with other Jewish women, at a Jewish event to support Israel.”