by Phyllis Shaikun
Alan Friedman grew up in Cincinnati in a family that was truly involved in the Jewish community. His mother sang in the temple choir and his dad taught the temple confirmation class. His father also was actively involved in the organized Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally with participation in the Cincinnati Jewish Federation, State of Israel Bonds national cabinet, and was chairman of Hebrew Union College’s Board of Overseers. He was also the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal, Israel’s highest civilian honor.
“My parents’ commitment to community made an impression on me growing up,” says Friedman. “I think it is important for parents to introduce their children to the Jewish community and the agencies that promote charitable, educational and social endeavors. If you feel passionate about something, you have to share it with your family.”
When Friedman and his wife, Debbie, lived in Florida, he practiced real estate and environmental law (she was a buyer at Burdine’s) and was involved with the Jewish Federation, Israel Bonds and other local agencies. In 1992 he made the decision to help his father run the family business, Pluto Corporation, a contract packager for household cleaning products in French Lick, IN. Since Louisville was the closest city with a significant Jewish population, he and Debbie packed their bags and relocated here.
“We didn’t know anyone,” Friedman recalls, “but the Jewish community was welcoming and we made lots of friends.” Since he drives a total of three hours a day to and from French Lick, he says “it is so nice to come home to a community we can support locally.” Despite his time restrictions, he served on the Federation Board and the Planning and Allocations Committee and has not missed participating in a Super Sunday event over the past 20 years. He has helped to facilitate fundraising efforts and appreciates the JCL for its communitywide global approach.
“It is important to me and to Debbie to support the good work the JCL continues to do in our community on a daily basis,” says Friedman. “The organization provides services for seniors through JFCS, aid for the needy, Jewish educational programs for all ages, financial support for the JCC’s athletic, cultural, social and educational initiatives and serves as the liaison to the greater community through the Jewish Community Relations Council. The JCL also offers career services and counseling through Jewish Family & Career Services.” Debbie Friedman currently serves as JFCS Board president and is on the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation Board and the JHHS Excellence Grants Committee.
The Friedmans also take full advantage of what the JCC has to offer. He works out at the Center and jogs at least three days a week. Debbie takes pilates classes and swims, and they both like to attend CenterStage productions. “We like to be involved in agencies that make a difference,” says Friedman, “agencies that we are interested in and passionate about. We are happy to be a part of the Louisville Jewish community and are particularly pleased that our daughter and son-in-law are becoming involved with Milwaukee’s Jewish community.”
Friedman is also supportive of the area’s business community. He served on the French Lick/West Baden Chamber of Commerce Board for a number of years and has been actively involved as a member, officer and board member of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Bluegrass Chapter for many years.
“Debbie and I feel it’s not all about giving money to causes you care about,” he says, “but participating and doing something for them as well.”