Two local political leaders and a local woman were honored for following the ideals of unity and diversity at the Beth El synagogue in Margate Friday evening.

The Father Thom Schiavo awards — for brotherhood, humanitarianism and community — were awarded to Sen. Jim Whelan, Assemblyman Chris Brown and Sandi Shechtman.

Whelan said he was honored to receive the award for brotherhood and felt it was more of a reminder of his responsibilities.

"It’s a lesson those of us in politics certainly need to be reminded of over and over again," Whelan said. "When you receive an award like this, it reminds you to try that much harder."

He added that the award reminds him to put aside differences — a hefty task in politics.

Coming from a multi-religious family, Brown said he grew up with the ideals necessary to realize "all of us are God's children, interconnected in life."

Brown received the humanitarian award.

"These philosophies transcend into the political world," Brown said. "We all basically want the same things. We want to provide for our families, we'd like to see our children do better than we did, and we'd all like to find happiness and enjoy our lives."

Both were presented the award by Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.

Sandi Shechtman, a member of the synagogue, received the community award for her dedication to various charities and causes in the community over the years.

"I've been fortunate to be able to help Beth El, not just financially, but I give myself," Shechtman said.

The award presentation was attended by leaders of different faiths, including rabbis, reverends and imams from the southern New Jersey region.

The award is named after Schiavo, a priest at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Margate, who died unexpectedly in 1984 at the age of 37. The synagogue began distributing the awards in his honor in 1989.

Contact Anjalee Khemlani:

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.