Jacqueline and Maurice Harounian say they consider Temple Israel to be their home away from home. In fact, they say that the synagogue slogan, “Where Tradition Meets Change,” describes their family, as well.
Mr. Harounian immigrated from Iran with his family, including two siblings, when he was a teenager. After a few years in Forest Hills, the family moved to Great Neck. His father became a founder of the Beth Hadassah synagogue.
Mrs. Harounian was born in New Jersey to Iranian immigrant parents. She and her two sisters grew up in Old Westbury and were active in a Conservative synagogue. In 1988, the family moved to Great Neck and joined Beth Hadassah Synagogue. Soon after, they joined Temple Israel.
The couple was married at Temple Israel and now have four children, ranging in age from 17 to 30. They have two sons, Aaron and Joey, and two daughters, Tamara and Delilah. The children attended all three Temple Israel schools and celebrated their b’nai mitvah with the congregation. In addition, Mr. Harounian became an adult bar mitzvah at Temple Israel in 2017, an experience he said he considers to be one of the most meaningful in his life.
Mrs. Harounian has served on the synagogue Board of Trustees and has chaired the “Women in Judaism Shabbat” and the Temple Israel “Salute to Israel” parade participation.
The Harounian family is very active in Jewish cultural events, volunteer efforts and philanthropy, including Midnight Run, the UJA Witness Project and Hadassah. The Harounian home has hosted many fundraisers, as well as USY students attending the Waxman Youth House Shabbaton.
The Harounians are very proud of their strong belief in Zionism. Each of their children has celebrated their b’nai mitzvah in Israel, and has spent extended time there as young adults.
Mr. Harounian is the founding partner of several real estate partnerships and Mrs. Harounian is the managing partner and sole shareholder of Wisselman Harounian Family Law. She is a former president of SHAI, the Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc, and has also served as president of the Yashar Chapter of Hadassah, a group of female lawyers and judges. She led a group of attorneys who were sworn in at the United States Supreme Court and met with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She has served on the board of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island and the Long Island Crisis Center, as well as several UJA committees.
“Being involved in Temple Israel is one of the greatest blessings of my life,” Mr. Harounian said. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized and we appreciate it more than words can say.”
“Temple Israel has been a huge part of our lives for many years,” said Susan and Robert Lopatkin. “It’s where our children became b’not mitvah and where we have made lifelong friendships. We cherish all the connections we have made and our involvement with the synagogue.”
Their involvement began in 2001, when Susan joined an adult bat mitzvah class, followed by participation in the congregation’s Finance Committee and Religious School Education Committee. She went on to become co-chair of Cantor Frieder’s bar mitzvah celebration, followed by the women’s seder. She has chaired a nominating committee and spearheaded the creation of the Tefilah Enrichment Program in the Religious School and was a founding co-chair of Shabbat Kol Ishah. Additionally, she chaired the Temple Israel Finance Committee for 10 years. She serves as the co-chair of professional development for Golda and currently serves on the Board of Trustees.
In 2001, Bob joined the Bar Mitzvah Committee and Men’s Club, eventually serving as the group’s secretary for two years, and then as co-president. Under his leadership the Men’s Club Shabbat was revamped. He served on the Board of Trustees
for six years and as vice president for ritual and finance for six years. He has also co-chaired the Ritual Committee, organized the Welcome Back BBQ, co-chaired Temple Israel’s Comedy Night, was assistant to the director of a Temple Israel Players production and continues to build sets for the shows. He has also twice served on the High Holy Days Cantor Search Committee. As a member of the Pastoral Committee, he regularly leads a shiva minyan at the homes of congregants. He also serves as an usher during the High Holy Days.
The Lopatkins have co-chaired a dinner dance as well as Cantor Raphael Frieder’s 25th anniversary celebration. The couple regularly lead parts of religious services and chant Torah and haftarah.
Susan was recently re-elected to her eighth term as mayor of the Village of Kensington, a post she has held for the past 14 years. She has also served as past president of the Great Neck Village Officials Association and director of the Water Authority of Great Neck North. Known professionally as Susan Forgasch, she is the principal of a full-service financial planning company, Comprehensive Financial Strategies, and holds both CPA and CFP designations.
Bob is an orthodontist who recently sold his private practice in Astoria, where he was a community fixture for the last 35 years, and opened a new orthodontic office in Great Neck, Advanced Digital Orthodontics. He was an assistant clinical professor of orthodontics at NYU College of Dentistry for 35 years and is now a clinical professor of orthodontics at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine. He also performs as a stand-up comic at venues in Queens, Manhattan and Long Island.
The Lopatkins have two daughters, Stefanie and Allison, who are married to Mark and Greg, respectively, and a “delicious” granddaughter, Emilia.