STAMFORD – “When I think of BCDS, I think of lifelong friends, a tremendous platform and foundation for education and future success, and a community of students, families, faculty and administrators that truly care and support their student population,” says David Fogel of his years as a student at Bi-Cultural Day School – now Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy (BCHA) – in Stamford.
Fogel has been giving a lot of thought to Bi-Cultural of late, and with good reason. On Sunday evening, March 31, he will join many of his old friends at the Stamford Hilton Hotel, as the Class of 2004, of which he was a member, is honored with the 2019 Bi-Cultural Alumni Award at the school’s annual Celebration Dinner.
Along with the Class of 2004, the gala dinner will pay tribute to 2019 Guests of Honor Dr. Rachel Goldstein Jubas and Dr. Jay Jubas. In addition, Jill and Mitchell Kaplan will be presented with the BCHA Community Service Award, and BCHA Judaics teacher Elana Trombka will receive the Jane Shoztic Memorial Award.
This year represents the first time an entire class will be honored with the BCHA Alumni Award, presented in recognition of the contributions of Class of 2004 alumni to their communities, as well as to their professional accomplishments.
Fogel, who grew up in Stamford, is co-chairing the alumni award portion of the dinner, along with his Bi-Cultural classmate Dana Russ.
Like Fogel, Russ has warm memories of Bi-Cultural and credits her education there for strengthening her Jewish identity.
“Thinking of BCDS makes me think of home, Jewish values and tradition, and best friends and teachers who became family,” she says. “I have very vivid memories of singing, dancing and fun. My childhood years were defined by the Jewish vitality and joy of the BCDS community. I feel so fortunate to have been given the gift of a Jewish education and to have understood the importance of Judaism and my Jewish heritage so profoundly and at such a young age – something that has stuck with me into adulthood and will forever guide me throughout life.”
Russ, who grew up in Westport and now lives in Manhattan, went on to receive her BA in International Affairs and Middle East Studies from The George Washington University. She currently serves as premium specialist for the New York Yankees, managing the Yankees’ premium and corporate accounts.
“I work out of Yankee Stadium every day and have the unique opportunity to catch all 81-home games in person!” she says.
In the Class of 2004 yearbook, it was predicted that Fogel would be an “entrepreneur.” And many aspects of his current role as executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association – the labor association representing basketball coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA) – rely on an entrepreneurial spirit, he points out, including a lot of creative thinking within a fast-paced working environment.
“I am incredibly fortunate to be in this executive role at such a young age. Understanding the value of relationships, honesty, and transparency afforded me an opportunity to gain the trust and respect of our NBA Coaches and executives from around the NBA,” he says.
Fogel, 28, earned a BA from Emory University, a graduate certificate in Sports Business Operations from New York University and a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Today, he lives in Manhattan and is engaged to be married later this year.
For the two alumni, the ties that bound together the Class of 2004 15 years ago are still strong.
Russ still gets together with two or three women with whom she attended Bi-Cultural and who, like her, live in Manhattan. In addition, this past December, she travelled to Guatemala with about 10 other Class of 2004 alum for the wedding of classmate Ben Cohen.
“It was so great to see a few people I hadn’t seen in years – it was a really fun reunion,” she says.
David Fogel was among that group and remains close with several other BCDS alumni.
“My best friend since kindergarten is Brian Freilich – I was recently a groomsman in his wedding. I am extremely close with five classmates and am in touch with several others,” he says.
Now, the two co-chairs are looking forward to another reunion – the March 31 BCHA Celebration Dinner. The dinner’s theme, “Coming Together,” celebrates the merger of Bi-Cultural Day School with the Jewish High School of Connecticut. The two schools have joined forces to create one comprehensive pre-K through grade 12 academic institution. The newly formed Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy of Connecticut opened its doors this fall.
“I am thrilled to be attending the annual dinner this year and looking forward to a fantastic reunion with the BCDS Class of 2004,” says Ms. Russ, adding, “I am so excited for the future of BCHA and am envious that eighth-graders now have the opportunity to stay in the warm and spirited Jewish embrace of BCHA throughout their high school years.”
David Fogel sees his role as co-chair with Ms. Russ of the dinner’s alumni group as a way of giving back to his alma mater.
“Bi-Cultural Day School afforded me an opportunity to understand the principles of hard work, the importance of education and community, and the value of relationships both with fellow students, as well as adults and those in leadership positions,” he says. “I still carry the values I learned from BCDS today into my personal and professional relationships.”
For information on the 2019 BCHA Celebration Dinner: (203) 329-2186 x1412 or visit bchacademy.org.
CAP: The Bi-Cultural Day School (now Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy) Class of 2004.