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Eli Skora says farewell

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St. Paul Federation honors departing executive director Eli Skora at June 6 annual meeting

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

During the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul’s annual meeting last week at Mount Zion Temple, the honors and accolades rained down upon Eli Skora, who is retiring after 17 years as the organization’s executive director.

Steve Brand, the St. Paul Federation president, read a proclamation from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, declaring June 6 as Eli Skora Day in Minnesota’s capital city. Brand also read a note from Mark Wilf, an owner of the Minnesota Vikings and past national campaign chair for The Jewish Federations of North America, commending Skora’s service to the community; along with the letter, Wilf sent along a framed Vikings jersey, adorned on the back with the name SKORA and the number 18.

Eli Skora was “knighted” by King Boreas Rex (aka Jason Bradshaw). At left is Aurora, Queen of the Snows (aka Lindsey Jo Sandoval). (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

Then there was the appearance of the entire St. Paul Winter Carnival Royal Court. King Boreas Rex (aka Jason Bradshaw) wielded his scepter and “knighted” Skora. (Brand wondered aloud if he will have to refer now to Skora as “Sir Eli.”) Aurora, Queen of the Snows (aka Lindsey Jo Sandoval) pinned a medal on his lapel. And Klondike Kate led a group singing of “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow,” in Skora’s honor.

Also, the St. Paul Federation established the Eli Skora Jewish Communal Professional Achievement Award, which will be given annually to a person who has made a significant impact on the St. Paul Jewish community. Skora was the first recipient of the award, which features an artwork, a colorful Star of David, created by St. Paul native Robert A. Nemer. The artwork and a plaque, with the names of award winners, will be displayed in the Federation’s Highland Park offices.

In his remarks, Skora recounted how he came to the United States from his native Cuba, at the age of 10. He was separated from his parents for six years, and lived with foster families under the auspices of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Being nurtured in this way made a profound impact on his choice of studying social work and becoming a Jewish professional, a career that spans 35 years, leading Jewish federations in Indiana, Connecticut, New Orleans and St. Paul.

Looking back on his career, Skora said that he always was motivated by the “goodness of the Jewish community,” and worked to better the community. He mentioned that he and his wife, Miriam, will continue to live in St. Paul; and Skora will help in the leadership transition, when Robert S. Jacobs takes the position of Federation CEO on July 31.

The June 6 meeting also included recognition of Eden Kohali, who will be returning to Israel after serving as the St. Paul Jewish community’s shlicha (Israel emissary). She led a tribute to Jerusalem’s reunification, which occurred 50 years ago.

And there was a dessert reception after the meeting.

(American Jewish World, 6.14.17)

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