Pearl Halegua, Founder and Chairperson, JAFCO- Long Island Chapter

Pearl Halegua, Founder and Chairperson, JAFCO- Long Island Chapter

Pearl Halegua, husband Nathan and sons, Josh and Aaron have been living on Long Island since 1983. Josh and wife Carly, have increased the North Shore’s population with their children Jax and Stella.

Jax and Stella have added a new dimension to Pearl’s lifelong commitment to working with children and education in general.

After graduating Queens College in the ’70s, Pearl went on to a career in teaching in the NYC school system. She did postgraduate work in remedial reading, math and later received a National Science Foundation Grant towards a master’s in STEM.

The NYC Board of Education included her as a Teacher of the Year in 2004. After retiring in 2005, she continued to be involved in the education and welfare of children.

She is the founder and chairperson of the Long Island chapter of JAFCO, Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options.  The chapter was established in 2007, with a small fundraiser of 30 women in Pearl’s backyard.

Pre-COVID the JAFCO, Fun in the Sun event expanded to 300 attendees at Glen Head Country Club.

In between, there have been numerous Tea Parties, Cabaret Shows, Cocktail gatherings, Wine tastings, golf outings etc. to support the incredible work of JAFCO.

Pearl’s commitment to learning, family and support of the Jewish community as well as the community at large is evident in the many other organizations you will find her working and or leading.

She has chaired numerous programs and fundraisers for her temple, Temple Beth Sholom…of which she is a past president.  During her time on the executive board, as the vice president of Education, she created the Temple Beth Sholom Inclusion Committee and continues to serve as co-chairperson of this initiative.

One of the many services offered by JAFCO is an abilities center that services families with children on the spectrum as well as other neurological impairments. Another reason JAFCO is so important to her.

Social Action is important to the Halegua family, and Pearl does her part by serving on her temple’s social action committee. Social Action includes supporting gun control legislation, once again JAFCO, supports things close to Pearl’s heart. After the Parkland HS mass shooting in Florida JAFCO stepped in to provide grief and post-traumatic stress counseling. Eagles Haven, emerged as an important branch of JAFCO.

As children of parents who survived the antisemitism of Europe the Haleguas have made it their goal to help educate future generations about the horrific outcomes of hatred. Pearl

Chaired the Yom HaShoah Committee at her temple for ten years, together with her husband they sponsored two professorships at Queens College, one on Ethics and Tolerance, the other on Greek and Sephardic Studies.

Continuing in this work, our honoree serves as chairperson of the Center of Jewish Studies at Queens College, as well as a member of the Fund Board at Queensborough and she is its liaison to the Kupferberg Holocaust Center.

As we see education and educating are most meaningful to Pearl, her latest undertaking is serving as a member of The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Library Board.

Her motto, in Hebrew, “ doogmah eesheet,” lead by personal example, one must be prepared to do what they expect others to do.

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