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4.29.16 Issue

Gary Javitch and Howard Borden, Henry Monsky Lodge

“For the first time in our 62-year banquet history, both the male and female honorees come from the same school,” said B’nai B’rith banquet chair Howard Shandell.

“That talent-rich school is Bellevue West High School (BW), and the star athletes are Jadyn Kowalski, a stellar pro-style quarterback and Chloe Akin-Otiko, a phenomenal basketball and track competitor.

“Our Henry Monsky Lodge will recognize the two BW seniors as top achievers in both athletics and academics. These are qualities the Henry Monsky Lodge strives to promote,” Shandell added.

The BW athletes will be honored at The 62nd Annual Charity Sports Banquet, presented by B’nai B’rith on May 19 at the CenturyLink Omaha Center. The charity dinner raises funds that benefit the entire Jewish community with scholarships and subventions distributed through the synagogues, the Federation, and the JCC.

In addition, the Lodge chose Dave Feherty, the humorous host of the Golf TV Channel and a huge best-selling author, as their featured speaker to help honor the student award winners.  The popular Sklar Brothers, known for their comedy and HBO TV appearances will reprise their role as MC’s for a third time at the dinner.

Ari Riekes, Henry Monsky Lodge president continued, “We are proud to recognize Jadyn Kowalski as the recipient of the Lodge’s prestigious Bert Render Award for the top male scholar-athlete in the Omaha Metro area.”

Gatorade selected the 6-foot-4 passer as a 2016 State Football Player of the Year, noting that he connected on 46 touchdown passes, amassing a total of 3,146 yards with a nearly astounding 70% completion rate.

In early April, Jadyn received “The Over The Top Award” at the annual Jet award banquet, being named the top player in Eastern Nebraska. He also holds numerous Nebraska State Activities Association (NSAA) and school records. These include most passing TDs, most passing yards and total yards in a high school career. Among many other awards, Jason was also named the 2016 Captain of the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star all-Nebraska and “Super State” teams.

“On the girl’s side,” Riekes stated, “Chloe garnered the Lodge’s Earl Siegel award, the Lodge’s top honor for female scholar-athletes in the Omaha Metro area.

Chloe is a two-sport standout. In track, she is a three-time 100 and 200-meter Gold Medal Winning athlete. She also won Gold in the 400 meter Long Jump and 4 X 100 Relay.

Nebraska’s two-time Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Chloe earned a #29 ranking among the nation’s top 100 prep competitors in 2015 with her state title time.

In Basketball, Chloe, at 5 ft. 8 in., was All Metro 1st team (2014 – 2016) and 1st Team All Nebraska (2015-2016). In addition, she is both a season point record holder and a career scoring record holder in her school.

In the classroom, Chloe Akin-Otiko has maintained a 5.35 GPA on a five-point scale. “Outside of sports, Chloe is a member of National Honor Society and the freshman mentor program at BW. She helps with the Cornhusker Shutzhund Club, a dog training club, and she is active in her church,” stated Leigh Officer, a well-known local sports advocate for youth. She added, “Chloe serves our community just by being in it. Her smile is contagious. Her work ethic is inspiring. Her grace is overflowing. She is remarkable.”

“A basketball standout as well, academically, Jadyn has maintained a 4.44 GPA on a 5.0 scale. A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a member of his church’s youth group, Jadyn has volunteered for the Open Door Mission, Kids Against Hunger and the Bellevue Food Pantry. He has also donated his time at a retirement home and as part of several service projects, benefiting his school’s athletic department,” according to USA Today.

Larry Goldstrom, the banquet athletic chair added, “Both Jadyn and Chloe accumulated so many records, we couldn’t even begin to note all their accomplishments.

“There is no doubt that this year the top two award winners truly represent the highest level of student athletes in the classroom, community, and in sports,” said Goldstrom.

Besides receiving the Render and Siegel awards, the student honorees will split $5000 in scholarship money funded from the Adam Jacobs Memorial Tribute Fund. That is a 25% increase over the previous scholarship awards. Henry Monsky Lodge President Ari Riekes and Shandell will hand out the awards and grants at the banquet.

As in last year’s voting, Chloe, the female Earl Siegel candidate was a “runaway” selection. The boys vote was quite different, though, according to Goldstrom. The male lead changed hands several times. The high-quality competition was so stiff this year that in the end, the vote difference between Kowalski and the other two young men was only a few points, said Goldstrom.

“The Omaha Metro area has a great number of outstanding star scholar-athletes,” said Goldstrom. “The Lodge presents nominees to Metro area high school Athletic Directors (ADs). Each high school AD and two other voters within the school then vote Heisman-style for three males and three females, ranking them with 1, 2, or 3 points. The voters return their ballots electronically, via email over the course of about a week.”

TICKETS: For more information, please visit www.oma; call PlanitOmaha at 402.333.3062 or email

Cquence Health Group is our top sponsor this year. Broadmoor Development Company is also a major sponsor.  Other sponsorships are available by calling Howard Shandell at 402.861.0565 or emailing him at

The banquet typically attracts around 800 – 1000 attendees drawn from the business and non-profit community. Over its storied 62-year banquet history, the Jewish service organization, has included among their many high-profile featured speakers, Howard Cosell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Urban Meyer, Peyton Manning, and last year UNL Husker Coach Mike Riley, to name just a few of the high-profile past guests.

B’nai B’rith is a prominent financial supporter of youth programming and a sponsor of numerous educational and current event programs, like their weekly Wednesday lunch program, Breadbreakers – all open to the public.