Throughout her years as editor of Community, Shiela Steinman Wallace has touched and been touched by many people in the community. Here are some additional comments and stories.
While Shiela remained focused on the Jewish community during her career, there were times when she dealt with difficult personal issues and the community was always there for her.
In 2003, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not one to let “a bump in the road” stop her, she continued to work as she went through treatment. The Jewish community was there to help her along the way.
At the Federation, she explained, “Alan Engel allowed me to bring a cot to the office so I could take a nap in the afternoon. Had he not done that, I would have had to work short days and could never have managed the paper.
“In addition, the community was there for me. More people came forward to help than I needed. I am eternally grateful,” she said. The community stepped up to help once again when her son, Glenn, fought kidney cancer. “Although he lost his battle, the community was there for me every step of the way.”
“When I started working for the Federation,” Shiela recalled, “I was told that there is a divide in Jewish Louisville between native Louisvillians and transplants.” Although Shiela grew up in the Chicago, she never felt unwelcome. In fact, says that one of her proudest moments occurred when Frank Weisberg, who was then chairing the Louisville business part of a big celebration of Louisville’s Jewish history and whose family has been in Louisville for several generation, forgot that she was not a Louisville native and said, “and you remember Preston Street.”
More than two years ago, she recruited Weisberg to chair the Archives Governance Committee, a responsibility he continues to carry today.
Ranen Omer-Sherman, who holds the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Louisville, said, “I was consistently impressed by Shiela’s dedication and energy in putting out a newspaper of such ambition and scope. Through her savvy and tireless work, Community often struck me as though it represented a city of much greater scale, such as Philadelphia or Chicago.
“She helped us all keep in mind just what a vibrant and diverse Jewish community we have in Louisville,” he continued, “and the extraordinary range of activities affecting family life, cultural life and education on all levels. In her hands, Community became a precious resource for us all. And it made my own work much easier, in bringing much-needed attention to the teaching activities and exciting speaker events I host every semester at the University of Louisville.
“I learned a great deal about this community from Shiela,” he added, “and can’t begin to express my appreciation for her hard work, warmth and enthusiasm, and I know that she will be greatly missed.”
“Of the many great volunteers and staff I’ve met over my years of service on the JCL Board and committees, Shiela Wallace stands out for how much she cares,” said Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Board Chair David Kaplan. “She shows up every day, does the hard work and takes care of the details. Whatever the event, you could count on Shiela to be there accurately recording events to keep the community informed. I know that on more than one occasion she has pulled an all-nighter to be sure that Community was done on time.
“She has been the chronicler of everything we do and have done;” he continued, “has interviewed every leader in the Jewish community (in many cases multiple times) and her dedication and enthusiasm for the mission of the JCL are unparalleled.
“I also know Shiela as someone who passionately expresses her Jewish faith through beautiful music and song,” he added.
Ben Goldenberg, JCL marketing director, feels lucky to have worked with Shiela over the past six years. He considers her a great friend and mentor and admits he has never met anyone who works so hard to accomplish what they set out to do. “The amount of time she puts into Community each month,” he says, “is incredible. She is an amazing leader and advocate for Louisville’s Jewish community and I am truly thankful to have met and known her as a person and a co-worker.”
“It has been a delight to work with Shiela for many years,” said Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Executive Director Jeff Polson. “Her deep abiding commitment to Louisville has been reflected in her leadership at the Community newspaper. I sincerely wish her the very best as she moves into the next phase of her career.”