Mark was born in Brooklyn in 1949. He, interestingly, had a very Jewish education. His parents decided to send him to Yeshiva. He attended Bobov Yeshiva, Lubavitch Yeshiva, Yeshiva of Brooklyn. After high school, he went into the jewelery business. Sadly, he was never married. Mark lived in Brooklyn until moving down to Florida to be with his mom in Kings Point. After his mom went into a care facility, Mark continued to live in her house for several years. Due to multiple surgeries, Mark’s brother sent him to a home to receive better care. Mark comes to our class every week and gets his delivery of Challah, grape juice, and Gefilte fish for Shabbos. For Pesach, he was the one who led the Seder for his fellow residents. Mark is a proud Jew.
Remember Steve Gillis? TOP featured his biography in the Parshas Noach newsletter in October of 2015:
“Steve Gillis was born in 1956 in Pittsburg, PA. He attended Moon Area High School and later transferred to Hillel Academy of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1974. He then enrolled in the University of Florida and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Administration. He continued his studies at Penn State, where he received his Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition. He began work on a PhD. Steve married Mimi in 1986 and has a son named Jacob. Jacob now works as a mentor at the Hebrew Academy in North Carolina. Steve worked at wild life preservations in the United States and around the world till tragedy struck in 2013 when Steve had a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and affected certain mental and emotional functions. He is now living in an assisted living facility in Palm Beach FL. Steve is an inspiration to many. Instead of giving up, he is continuing to try and better himself physically, mentally, academically, and spiritually. Steve attends my class every week and travels in his motorized chair to Palm Beach Atlantic University to continue his doctorate. The first time I met Steve, he asked me if I had my Tefillin with me. Unfortunately, I had not brought them with me that day, but now I bring them to my Palm Beach classes every week and help Steve put them on. As a matter of fact, his friends saw him and decided to put them on too. Ever since I started coming to Palm Beach, the highlight of my week is helping Steve put on Tefillin, having him in my class, and having a chance to talk with a very special person.”
TOP had lost touch with Steve when he moved out of the facility in Palm Beach. Recently, TOP began giving classes in Emerald Hills in Hollywood and guess who was living there? Steve Gillis, now reunited with his wife who’s in the same facility, and no longer needing his chair. Steve now walks with a cane, and he and Mimi are both very active in the TOP program. It was through Steve and Mimi that their son, Jake Gillis, started to organize our social media presence until Jake made Aliyah to Israel a few months ago. Steve just mentioned that the electric shaver that TOP bought him a few years ago died and asked for a new one. We are so excited to be reunited with Steve and Mimi and are looking forward to a long growing relationship.