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Queens Jewish council honors two boro leaders

The Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council honored two longtime Queens residents and installed its officers for 2002 at the organization’s annual installation and awards breakfast Nov. 4.

Helene Zarro, a northeast Queens community activist and organization leader, was recognized for her service to the community while the Queens Jewish Community Council president, Harold “Heshie” Baron, was honored for his aid to the greater New York community.

“Of course, I was delighted about the honor,” said Zarro, of Queens Village, who has been a fixture in the northeast Queens community for 40 years.

The NEQJCC named Jeffrey Gurdus as president, Zarro as first vice president, Ethel Levine as second vice president, Susan Fogel as third vice president, Dr. Leonard Stieglitz as secretary and David Weprin as treasurer. Gurdus replaced Joseph Varon, who served three terms as the organizations president.

The Jewish community council is made up of 23 synagogues and other religious, education, fraternal and community organizations stretching from Bayside to Glen Oaks and from Jamaica Estates to Little Neck.

“I was honored because I think the organization exemplifies what a good Jewish community council should be,” said Baron, 61, a stock broker from Kew Gardens Hills. “I think the council embraces people in all areas of the religion and community life.”

Zarro has served on Community Board 13 and the board of the Queens County Farm Museum for more than 25 year in addition to being either the president or vice president of School Board 26 for 16 years.

The Bell Park Manor resident said she first began to get involved in the community to make sure her children got a proper education and so became a member of the PTA at PS 33. She followed her children to IS 109 and then Martin Van Buren HS before joining the school board.

“Education is paramount,” Zarro said. “What is going to happen when kids do not know how to read, write or do math? Business are going to be deeply effected.”

Saving PS 18, she said, was one of her proudest moments. In 1975 the Board of Education wanted to shutter the school because there were too few students. She said she told them “they would rue the day if the school was closed.” Today the school is at full capacity.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who has known Zarro since the early 1970s and presented her with the award, said she has been constant working within the community to make improvements benefiting everyone.

He said she has been involved in a wide range of community groups from SB 26 to the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council and from the Queens County Farm Museum to Bell Park Manor’s condominium board. Padavan said Zarro was also instrumental in saving the Queens County Farm Museum by helping to get it landmark status.

“She is a very knowledgeable and invaluable asset to the community,” Padavan said.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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