Awards Presented, Achievements Celebrated at JCL Annual Meeting

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor]

Outgoing Jewish Community of Louisville President David Klein called the JCL’s 2013 Annual Meeting to order on Monday, June 3, at the Jewish Community center, welcoming the community to a celebration of the accomplishments of its volunteers and staff.

When Cantor David Lipp came up for the invocation, he identified another theme that ran throughout the evening. He sang “Ani Ve’ata,” in Hebrew and English. The lyrics, by Arik Einstein, say you and I will change the world. The cantor’s only comment after the song was, “Go change.” The highlight of the evening was the presentation of awards. All of the award-winners were profiled in depth in the May 24 edition of Community.

Click here to view the full 2013 Annual Meeting Program.

Ottenheimer Award Presentation
In presenting the Blanche B. Ottenheimer Award to his wife, Madeline Abramson, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson recited a litany of volunteer activities she undertook for 16 years while serving as “first lady of Louisville” and more that she does today as “second lady of the Commonwealth.”

“She was Federation Major Gifts chairman, while she served on the JCL’s first Board of Directors, while she was active with JFCS, while she was active with Temple Shalom, while she was active with the Hebrew School,” he said, all while she served as first lady. In addition, he continued, she was involved with the Jewish Hospital Foundation, Leadership Louisville, Spalding University, Maryhurst, the Red Cross, National Council of Jewish Women and Gilda’s Club, often serving as a Board member and/or officer. She was also involved in the PTAs at the Abramson’s son, Sidney’s schools.

As second lady of the Commonwealth, Abramson continued, she has “all these responsibilities and for now, instead of driving, she’s flying or some state trooper is taking her here, there and wherever. And the next thing you know, she’s the chairman of the Kentucky Center for the Arts. The next thing you know, she’s the chairman of the Kentucky Commission on Women. And it goes on and on and on.”

Abramson reminded the audience of “the George Bernard Shaw quote about someone who’ll see things as they are and ask why and others dream of things that never were and ask why not. Well,” he added, “I would submit to you that my wife personifies the person that dreams things that never were and asks why not, and then goes out and plays a leadership role in bringing about the change necessary to make the kind of positive difference we all would want.”

When she learned she was to receive the Ottenheimer Award, Madeline Abramson said she sought information about Blanche B. Ottenheimer. As she learned about Ottenheimer’s accomplishments, Abramson said, “One of the things that struck me was she didn’t seem to be a person who liked to do things on her own. She wanted to bring people together and seemed to get great joy in gathering groups around her whether in the Jewish community, general community projects. I have to say that is what brought me great joy in my life, working together with so many wonderful people who have inspired me and all of you tonight inspire me.”

Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award
“Ron and Marie Abrams created the Volunteer of the Year Award to recognize an individual in the Jewish community whose life is defined by volunteerism, leadership and tikkun olam – the repair of the world,” said JCC Festival Director Marsha Bornstein. This year’s recipient, Keiley Caster, has been chair of the Jewish Film Festival Committee for four years and a member of the committee for seven.

“Keiley’s leadership, enthusiasm and positive attitude” have enabled the festival to draw increasing crowds, expand into new venues and develop a “stable, devoted committee that reviews over 40 films a year in order to select the best 10 for our festival.” He devotes many hours to the festival and is often seen wearing festival hats, shirts or sweatshirts. He even wore one that night.

In accepting the award, Caster said, the Jewish Film Festival Committee is “the best committee that I’ve ever been on or worked with. You say one thing and have three volunteers that say, ‘oh, I can do that.’ And I’m just right here in this position to be head of the committee and my work is easy.”

“I want to thank you very much for attending tonight,” he concluded, “and if you’re all there on the Saturday after the Super Bowl, our first film will be sold out and driving Marsha crazy – so be there.”
Many of the evening’s honors went to young adults and teens who, through their leadership, have demonstrated that the future of the Louisville Jewish community is bright.

Cole Young Leadership Award
Ariel Kronenberg said that the 2013 recipient of the Lewis W. Cole Memorial Young Leadership Award, Ben Vaughan, “likes to rock the boat, but in my opinion, he is most noticeable for his passion and commitment to what he does. No matter if it’s at work or in the community, he is a natural born leader.”

Kronenberg traced Vaughan’s activity in the Jewish community from dealing with anti-Semitism while attending high school in Bowling Green to his activity in Hillel while attending the University of Louisville and serving as its representative to the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Vaughan also was the campus volunteer for the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign, continues to be active in the Young Adult Division (YAD) and the Ben Gurion Society and will co-chair YAD next year. He’s also active with the Partnership 2Gether program.

“Ben is a man of ideas and he likes to bring them to life,” Kronenberg said. “He became the driving force behind the recently introduced Uniquely Jewish event series.

In accepting the award, Vaughan said, “We have some amazing leaders in our Jewish community and the ones honored here tonight are really just examples of the exceptional leaders this community continues to exhibit and produce.”

Vaughan also thanked Kronenberg and JCL staff members Stu Silberman, Sara Wagner, Stew Bromberg and Tzivia Levin Kalmes, who listened to his ideas, followed through when the ideas worked and encouraged him to grow and stretch.


Kaplan Young Leadership Award
Enthusiastic and generous are the words Seth Gladstein used to describe Beth Salamon, this year’s Joseph J. Kaplan Young Leadership Award Winner. “Not only does she love what she does,” he said, “but she’s extremely generous with her time, serving on lots of committees  … and she loves politics.”

Salamon has volunteered with Jewish Family & Career Services’ Family Mitzvah and Hanukah Helpers Committees, National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Community Relations Council. “It’s an asset to have Beth in our community,” he said.

After thanking the JCL, the people with whom she works and family members who support her activities and serve as role models, she said, “when I moved to Louisville, I was welcomed to the Jewish community. It is a wonderful place to live, and I’m really happy to be able to give back.”
Nisenbaum, Garmon Youth Awards

In Louisville, there is a strong connection between the BBYO teen leaders of today and young adult leaders from the past for whom BBYO was important. Both the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award, established by Stacy Gordon Funk, Wendy Snow and Sally Weinberg in memory of their friend, and the Ellen Faye Garmon Award, established by Estelle and Selwyn Garmon in memory of their daughter, honor the memory of young adults who died tragically. Reflecting the two women’s commitment to BBYO, these awards give the recipients scholarships to enable them to participate in regional, national or international BBYO programs.

This year, JCC Teen Director Mike Steklof presented the Nisenbaum Award to Ben Koby and the Garmon Award to Maggie Rosen. Both are rising seniors who have been very active in their BBYO chapters, held several offices and participated in many local and regional events. Koby participated in the March of the Living (see story, page 14) and Rosen serves on the Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio regional board.

The JCC also recognized five graduating high school seniors who have been active in BBYO throughout their high school careers. Diane Pressma Gordon presented Stuart Pressma Leadership Development Awards in memory of her brother who “was a leader in the Jewish and secular communities since he was a teen. … Stuart was interested in developing leaders so our community would flourish,” she said. The awards include a college scholarship.

Pressma and Fink Youth Awards
Gordon presented the 2013 Pressma Awards to Sophie Reskin, the daughter of Rhonda and Jim Reskin, who graduated from Ballard High School and will be attending the University of Colorado; Alanna Gilbert, the daughter of Amy and Lance Gilbert, who graduated from Ballard High School and will be attending Indiana University; Jordyn Levine, the daughter of Marci and Glenn Levine, who graduated from DuPont Manual High School and will be attending the University of Maryland; Jacob Spielberg, the son of Linda and Greg Spielberg, who graduated from Kentucky Country Day and will be attending Butler University; and Klaire Spielberg, the daughter of Jamie and Jeffrey Spielberg, who graduated from Louisville Collegiate School and will be attending George Washington University.

Sophie Reskin also received the Joseph Fink BBYO Community Service Award, a four-year partial tuition college scholarship, established by family and friends in his memory to honor his lifelong commitment to Louisville Jewish youth.

Steklof presented the Fink Award. He also publicly recognized Jodi Halpern, Olga Itkin and Andrew Segal, who served as volunteer advisors to BBYO this year, and Barb Schwartz and Linda Spielberg, who chaired the JCC’s High School Committee. Because of their hard work, Steklof reported, “BBYO reached over 100 members this year in Louisville.”

Judah Award
Senior Adult Director Diane Sadle presented the Elsie P. Judah Award, created in honor of one of the founders and leaders of the Golden Age Club at the old YMHA building, to “the dynamic duo of Teresa Barczy and Mag Davis,” both of whom “exemplify what a volunteer should be: caring, generous, and dependable.”

“Teresa and Mag are always thanking us for allowing them to volunteer at the JCC,” Sadle said.

Kling Award

The Arthur S. Kling Award is given annually to honor the memory of this community innovator who served the YMHA in many capacities, including president, was one of the leaders in the construction of the current JCC building and was instrumental in the establishment of both the Jewish Vocational Service and the Bureau of Jewish Education.

This year, JCL Senior Vice President and COO Sara Wagner presented the Kling Award to Human Resource Director Lisa Moorman. Wagner described Moorman as “an outstanding professional” who is “steady, smart, focused, driven and very patient.” She helped the JCC and the Federation come together during the merger and ensures that all the pieces are in place for the JCL to function smoothly every day.

From creating the Personnel Code, to onboarding new employees, including 100 in the last few weeks for Summer Camp, to ensuring that payroll gets out regularly and that employees questions about insurance, vacation and other benefits are answered accurately in a timely fashion, Moorman does it all.


Connecting to Israel
The meeting was also an opportunity for members of the community to meet Dikla Alegra Levi, the shlicha (emissary from Israel), who will be bringing Israeli culture to JCC Summer Camp and the community this summer, and Heidi Benish and Yona Fleischer who were visiting Louisville from the JCL’s Partnership 2Gether Region, the Western Galilee

In introducing them, JCL Vice President and COO Sara Wagner talked about reigniting the Partnership program, which fosters people-to-people connections between Louisvillians and people in Israel. Benish brought greetings from the Partnership Region and invited people to participate in the Partnership mission in time for Sukkot and will include Akko’s cultural festivals.

JCL Program Cabinet
Several staff members and volunteers provided updates on the JCL’s activities and progress over the last year.

Wagner recognized Jeff Tuvlin for his leadership as Program Committee chair this year and Program Cabinet chair before that, noting that he pulled people together from across the community to work on programming, and a lot of the enthusiasm and vibrancy in the room stems from his efforts.

Tuvlin reported the committee is “overseeing the ongoing programming as it relates to the strategic plan that was put together by a working group that was led by Scott Weinberg.” The plan includes a series of goals and priorities. He identified the shlicha now working with JCC Summer Camp as one priority that has been met.

Tuvlin also explained how the agency is participating in the Jewish Community Centers Association’s benchmarking program to guide its efforts to offer “the highest quality experiences for our members and guests.”

After one year of making improvements based on the first benchmarking analysis, Tuvlin said, “the national JCCA person who came to present our report was very impressed with not only how honest we were with our initial evaluation, but the breadth of improvement that we made across the board in a single year.”

He particularly highlighted activities the JCC has undertaken to strengthen the community’s connections to Israel and to Judaism.

“Thanks to the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence,” Tuvlin continued, “we’ve also been able to continue our mission-based programming, offering outreach to seniors and teens with programs that they need.” JHFE support also enabled the JCC to “reignite the PJ Library program,” and hire new people for the positions of middle school director; teen director; assistant camp director; middle school, camp and Jewish programmer; and, working with WTS, senior director for membership and wellness.

Looking ahead, Tuvlin said he is excited about the new Discover CATCH initiative made possible by the family of Jay Levine (z”l). Teachers and camp staff received special training in the program and will begin introducing it this summer to help children lead more active, healthy lives.

“The Jewish community should be proud of our programming and of our JCC, of our staff and of our volunteers,” Tuvlin concluded. “We provide community for people of all ages. We help build stronger Jewish identity, love of Israel, leadership, responsibility for others and education. We build bridges to other faith groups. We have the staff and the leadership in place to continue to work together and provide consistent, innovative, creative and intentful programming for the Jewish community of Louisville.”

The 2013 Federation Campaign
Karen Abrams, chair of the 2013 Federation Campaign thanked all those who contributed to the campaign and announced, “As of this morning, our Campaign total is $2,073,015, with a few pledges still in process. We will add these pledges so we will have the greatest impact possible on our community, nationally and globally. We fully expect to reach our goal of $2.1 million.”

She summarized the highlights of this year’s Campaign, including the new Uniquely Jewish Event Series, designed to attract a broader audience to Campaign events than usual and calling the two events, “a sign of great things to come.”

She publicly thanked the Campaign Cabinet, Joe Hertzman, Janet Hodes, Ariel Kronenberg, Sarah Harlan and Ben Vaughan. She also recognized the contributions of the Campaign staff, Chief Development Officer Stew Bromberg, Development Directors Matt Goldberg and Tzivia Levin, Development Coordinator Frankye Gordon and Development Associate Mary Jean Timmel.

Board Chair’s Report
Outgoing Board Chair David Klein devoted most of his remarks to a call for people to step forward as leaders who will continue his work to provide vision for the Jewish community and to bring the community together to achieve that vision and assure the future. “We need leaders,” he said, “… who are willing to put in the time and resources to effect visionary change.”

Leadership, he continued, “involves creativity, ingenuity and willingness to challenge status quo in the interest of progress toward a larger goal. And for our purposes, I will say that our charge has been to end decline of Jewish interest and commitment and shepherd in a renaissance of American Jewish life in our community.”

He also called on those who have had differences with JCL leaders to set aside personal issues and support the agency as it strives to fulfill its mission. Klein praised the JCL Board, those who serve on the standing committees and the JCL staff.

“I ask all here and in the community to be unyielding with honor, respect and support for Karen Abrams and her board,” he concluded, “while they provide the leadership to Stu Silberman and his staff as they all take on the tasks and the challenges of achieving tikkun olam – the belief that one must leave the world a better place than one finds it.”

CEO’s Message

JCL President and CEO Stu Silberman also took the opportunity to thank people, including David Klein for his leadership over the past three years; incoming Board Chair Karen Abrams; the Board of Directors; volunteers, members, Frankye Gordon, Arlene Kaufman and Terry Belker, who made the arrangements for the Annual Meeting; and his wife, Alison.

He noted that the JCL has added some new staff members “to our wonderful team” and introduced Vice President and CFO Ed Hickerson. “There are too many [new staff members] to list tonight,” Silberman said, “but I can’t tell you the pride that I feel with each new person who has chosen to join our team and help us fulfill our mission and I want you to know how blessed we are with truly wonderful staff.”

Silberman described his message to the community this year as “very simple. While it’s important to honor the past,” he said, “after three years, the conversation has shifted from prior challenges the JCL has faced to the future we’re creating together.”

The future he sees includes:

  • Decisions based on strategic planning;
  • A new face of philanthropy based on the Jewish Federation of Louisville brand;
  • Welcoming participation at all levels from younger donors and steadfast supporters;
  • Implementing a variety of interesting programs;
  • Upgrading JCC facilities to provide a safe, comfortable environment;
  • Diversifying revenue sources, including pursuing grants and prudent investments; and
  • Saving money through actions like vacating Shalom Tower.

“The budget for fiscal 2014,” Silberman announced, “has our operations … likely generating positive cash for the first time in a very, very long time.”

The JCL, he added, is “serving as the lead agency that convenes dialogue among the congregations and other agencies, fostering collaboration and collective planning for our Jewish future on issues from Jewish education to health care across the board.”

“There’s a lot more that we do,” he concluded. “We’re both here for you and we rely on you. So please join us, join us in our programs; join us in our philanthropy; join us in our community leadership; ask us how you can make a difference.”

Election of Officers and Board Members

  • Helene Kramer Longton, chair of the Governance Committee, which serves as the JCL’s nominating committee, led the business part of the meeting.
  • Directors elected for three-year terms are Angeline Golden, David Kaplan, Glenn Levine, Helene Kramer Longton and Leon Wahba.
  • Officers elected for the 2013-14 fiscal year are Board Chair Karen Abrams, Vice Board Chairs Jay Klempner and Joe Hertzman, and Treasurer Laurence Nibur.

Members of the Governance Committee are Chair Helene Kramer Longton, Vice Chair David Kaplan, Karen Abrams, Bruce Blue, Bob Bornstein, Lance Gilbert, Dennis Hummel, Lee Hyman, Steve Linker, Susan Rudy and Mark Weiss.

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