[by Phyllis Shaikun]
The Stuart Pressma Student Leadership Awards, which include a prize and their names engraved on a plaque at the Jewish Community Center, is typically given to the most active members of the senior class who have shown exemplary leadership skills during their time in high school. This year’s junior class, however, has been the most active and for that reason, three young men from that class were chosen to receive the award. The most active girls from that class will receive the honor next year.
Winning awards is not new to Nathan Spielberg, but each one affirms the 17-year-old’s devotion – and excitement – about being a part of the Louisville Jewish community. The recipient of this year’s Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship, he will have the opportunity to travel in Israel for three weeks this summer.An active member of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization locally and in the KIO (Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio) Region, Nathan has spent much of his time trying to get more teens to take advantage of the same opportunities he has by participating in the organization. He has held many of the Drew Corson AZA Chapter’s leadership posts and was elected regional shaliach (vice president) of community service and Judaism in December. His Israel trip is BBYO’s ILSI (International Leadership Seminar in Israel).
He also is active at his school, Kentucky Country Day, and has worked on tikkun olam activities there including collecting supplies for countries in need.
Nathan has just returned from a one-month stay in Boston working at a Harvard University laboratory doing research on Dystonia, a disease that has affected his brother, Jacob. He has raised quite a bit of money for the national organization and was invited to spend the month in Massachusetts helping research proteins and the role they play in finding medications to effect a cure for the disease. He is looking forward to a career in the science field, but has not yet settled on a favored college or specific direction.
“I am thrilled to be recognized for this honor,” said Nathan. “I am grateful to my parents, Linda and Gregg, for their support and for their interest in the Jewish community. I am also happy to help the community through BBYO.”
Anyone over the age of 18 has to take a second look when Max Oppenheimer enters the room. A Justin Bieber look-alike, Max takes the comparison in stride since he is probably more comfortable at the pool competing for his Manual High School Swim Team than he would be on-stage. The rising senior at DuPont Manual High School, where he is in the High School University program and a member of the Beta Club, is excited to be recognized for his involvement with BBYO.
He has served Corson AZA as mazkir (secretary), s’gan (vice president) and godol (president) and now serves as moreh (vice president of recruitment and education). The 20-member chapter offers many leadership opportunities for members. Max has helped plan regional conventions and attended CLTC (Chapter Leadership Training Conferences).
He is a member of this year’s Kesher Kentucky class and sees it as a great opportunity to learn about the community and become involved with others his age who are not involved in BBYO. He is also a life guard in Prospect this summer.
Max appreciates his parents, Gail and Mark, and his entire family for their support and for “being there for him” throughout his life.
Sam Cohen was born in Cincinnati, but has lived in Louisville since he was two years old. Now a senior at DuPont Manual High School University, he has been busy giving back to the community. A member of Pledge 13 during his bar mitzvah year and active with both Temple Shalom’s middle school youth group (MISTY) and with the Keneseth Israel/Adath Jeshurun Kadima middle school youth group. Today, he is a member of Temple Shalom’s high school youth group (SHORTY), and he continues to work with his family at the Wayside Christian Mission during the Christmas holiday.
This summer, he is participating in the Union for Reform Judaism’s Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica program. Participants will go to Costa Rica to do community service work, including building a bridge to enable students to get to school. Sam is also looking forward to doing Shabbat there and to the opportunity to speak Spanish.
An active member of Drew Corson AZA since his freshman year in high school, he has held local AZA leadership positions including two terms as vice president of Judaism and community service and two terms as vice president of programming, where he planned an overnight program. Sam has traveled quite a bit to attend KIO (Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio) Regional meetings in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. He also attended a 10-day CLTC meeting in Wisconsin where he met teens from all over the United States. “I am sort of a perfectionist,” Sam admits, “and through CLTC, I feel I am a better leader. I am really organized and devoted to BBYO.”
A student at DuPont Manual’s High School University program, he is a member of the Beta Club and has been accepted to the National Honor Society. “I have lots of service hours,” he says. “I help with recycling and do tutoring as well.” He played freshman and sophomore lacrosse and took up wrestling this past year.
Currently, he is “searching and exploring professions” from engineering and physics to options for a career in business. Sam has earned his parents’ trust and is appreciative of all of their efforts on his behalf.
Sam is the son of Terry and Marcie Cohen.
The Joe Fink Award traditionally goes to an outstanding senior each year, especially one who has done quite a bit of community service. This year the award was presented to an outstanding junior, Sarah Ensign. The award includes a college scholarship.
Sarah, who will be a senior at Ballard High School in the fall, is an active member of member of Jay Levine BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) Chapter. She has twice served as the group’s mazkira (secretary) and twice as n’siah (president), and has seen the chapter membership rise from just four girls when she joined to over 30 now. She headed the fall kick-off in 2009, and also oversaw all aspects of two separate conventions. In December of last year, she was elected BBG regional president.
This year, Sarah attended the International BBYO Convention in Texas and had the chance to meet with the international convention’s executives including representatives from Bulgaria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel.
A recipient of the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award last year, she just left for a three-week trip to Israel to attend the ILSI seminar. At the end of August, she will be in Washington, DC, to meet with international execs and regional and council presidents. On the local front, she is planning this year’s Labor Day B’nai B’rith Tournament and is working with fellow members to plan the first ever regional spirit convention.
Sarah has played field hockey for Ballard and is a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society. She also is a member of Invisible Children, an organization that helps children in Uganda who were affected by the genocide there.
“My brother, Daniel, was my mentor for BBYO,” she says. “He showed me how BBYO could impact my life. I can credit my mother, dad and grandparents for that as well. As my years in BBYO are coming to an end, the impact this movement has had on my life is immeasurable. The opportunities it has provided me, not only in leadership, but also what it means to be a Jewish teen in our community is something I will never forget. I can’t wait to see what the next six months have in store for me.”
Sarah is the daughter of Jim and Julie Ensign.