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2009 Press Releases

Celebrating Joy And Generosity In Giving EHMC Honors Bernie Koster

04/24/2009

It is with pride and affection that Englewood Hospital and Medical Center will honor Bernie Koster (right), a dear friend, humanitarian and beacon of community service, at the Medical Center’s annual Black Tie Gala on May 9, 2009.

A giving, caring individual, Bernie is known for his selfless dedication to furthering the work of charitable, religious, educational and other community-minded organizations. His many contributions of time and resources to Englewood Hospital span almost a decade of devoted service.

“Bernie Koster embodies the kind of partnership between the community and the hospital that has made it strong today and will ensure its bright future,” says Medical Center President and CEO Douglas A. Duchak. “Without the Bernie Kosters of this world, we would not be the outstanding organization that we are.”

Bernie was elected to the board of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in 2000. He immediately volunteered to take on the task of ad journal chair for the annual gala, a role he has most graciously reprised each year since then. His stellar “career” as a volunteer fundraiser goes back to his childhood, when as a young boy he would stand at the entrance to the subway near his home in Brooklyn, New York with the Blue Box of the Jewish National Fund, a hopeful smile and a request for donations.

Known for his sincere and honest nature and his unflagging support of the hospital, Bernie’s dedication continues even today during the current economic climate as an active member of the Lifeline to Tomorrow Campaign Leadership Committee. The committee is a vital part of the effort to build The Kaplen Pavilion, which will house a 37,000 square-foot emergency care center and an innovative unit for patients recovering from neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery.

Giving of himself is a privilege and a joy, explains tonight’s honoree. “I have been blessed by God with so much – good health, a loving family, good friends, a good life,” explains Bernie. “Giving back by helping others is tremendously rewarding and makes me happy – one of the many riches of my life. I was born with a talent for raising money and gathering people to a cause, and I am humbled to use it. I have a passion for people, and I’m deeply appreciative of having had so many opportunities to help others less fortunate than I.”

And help he does. A partial list of organizations that he has assisted over the years includes Gilda’s Club, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Temple Emanu-El of Closter, Bergen PAC, the Adler Aphasia Center and Jewish Family Service.

The broad sweep of his arm can be felt across Bergen County and beyond, often by people who don’t even know his name, says Medical Center Board Chairman Jay C. Nadel. “The results of Bernie’s efforts are amazing. It’s impossible to ascertain how many people have benefited from his humanitarian efforts and community service. It’s staggering to think about the good that has come from the funds he has raised for the hospital, and the benefits to the patients and staff who have gained from his hard work. We are lucky to have him. In addition, by strengthening the hospital, Bernie strengthens the entire community.”

The chairman’s first encounter with Bernie is still a vivid memory. In 1998, Bernie, whom Jay had never met before, stood in the Nadel family room with the rabbi and president of the family’s synagogue and asked for a substantial donation. “I was particularly impressed by the fact that he was the one to verbalize the request. I was very much taken aback. Well, as they say, the rest is history. Since then, I’ve seen Bernie’s magic work time and time again, a powerful force for good and positive change. When he commits to a cause, his sincerity and honesty shine through.”

Bernie’s commitment to both his fellow man and his Judaic faith come together in his devotion to Jewish causes and his synagogue, Temple Emanu-El of Closter. “Bernie has spent countless hours tending to the needs of our members and strengthening the Jewish community in general,” says its leader, Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner. “He is everywhere – always helping, giving of his time, resources and counsel.” A favorite part of Bernie’s week is Shabbat morning services when he acts as greeter and Gabbai, or honored helper, welcoming each worshiper. It’s a time when his deep affection for humanity is especially apparent. “Bernie is all about good: doing good and making people feel good,” says Rabbi Kirshner. “He has a special ability to make everyone feel as though they are coming home. That’s what he’s all about.”

Married to Norma Wellington Koster for 22 years, Bernie lives with his wife in Tenafly, New Jersey. They share their lives and love with five grown children, Elonna Malkin, Evan Koster, Paul Koster, Augusta Wellington and Abe Wellington. A son, Dean Wellington, passed away in 2002. They have also been blessed with nine grandchildren.

Gala co-chairs are Norma Wellington Koster and Myrna and Yale Block. Honorary chairs include Elaine and Myron Adler, Drs. Sandra and Arnold Gold, and Maggie and Bill Kaplen. Amy and David Albalah are ad journal co-chairs.

The gala will be held on Saturday, May 9 at the Rockleigh Country Club in Rockleigh, New Jersey at 6:30 PM. The evening will include a lavish cocktail reception, the club’s sumptuous signature dessert offerings and entertainment by Voices of Hope, a musical ensemble directed by Debbie Slevin of Demarest. Contact Tricia Vaccaro at 201-894-3485 or tricia.vaccaro@ehmc.com  for more information.