[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Over the years, it has been called the Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL), the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) and the Jewish Community Center (JCC), but for Esther Zegart, it has always been an important part of her life and remains so today.
Not only does she participate in programs, but she enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community, so it is not surprising that the JCL’s Senior Adult Program at the Jewish Community Center has chosen Esther Zegart as the recipient of the 2010 Elsie P. Judah Award.
“I understand the Elsie P. Judah Award is for helping seniors,” she said, “and I’ve always tried to do that to the best of my ability.
“I’m honored to be given the award,” she added.
And she has great ability in that area. She loves CenterStage and the JCC Orchestra, and knows how important it is to stay physically fit, so she attends performances and takes fitness classes. But she also takes it a step further. She encourages other seniors to join her, sometimes even picking them up and driving them to the JCC herself, just so they don’t miss out on anything. She doesn’t mind taking them to doctors’ appointments and the grocery store either; and often checks up on them by phone.
When the Senior Adult Program needs door prizes for holiday parties, Zegart’s ready to help there, too, collecting about 70 percent of them. She’s helped plan these activities, too, serving on the JCC’s Senior Adult Committee.
If an institution provides important activities that are worth participating in, it is also worthy of support. She encourages people to join the JCC and support its programs. “It’s so important,” she said. “Even when our children are gone, we need to support the JCC. It’s important for Louisville.”
While Zegart spends a lot of time at the JCC, she has many other interests and activities as well. She likes helping out at the Jewish Family & Career Services Sonny and Janet Meyer Food Pantry. “It’s one of my favorite charities,” she said.
She can often be found at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts where she has been an usher and volunteer for 24 years, “just helping facilitate the wellbeing of the patrons,” and indulging her own love for theater and music.
She also serves on or has served on the JFCS Advisory Council, as a volunteer at Four Courts, at the Speed Art Museum and the Palace Theatre and has been a volunteer at National Council of Jewish Women’s Fashion Encore.
A lifelong learner, she enjoys taking classes in the University of Louisville’s Continuing Education Program with several of her friends.
She is a member of Adath Jeshurun and NCJW.
Zegart says she grew up in downtown Louisville, and became active at the YMHA, especially with the Zionist group, Masada. She attended U of L and, after graduation, became a statistician for the school, until she and her first husband, moved from Louisville.
But Louisville is home, and she later returned and was Congregation Anshei Sfard’s secretary/bookkeeper for 20 years.
Zegart was married twice, first to Harold Strull and then to Leon Zegart, and survived them both. She says she was blessed to have two wonderful marriages.
Her son, Dr. William Strull, and his wife, Deborah, live in California with their two children. “My pride and joy,” Zegart said, “are, of course, my 13-year-old granddaughter, Rebecca Hope Strull, and my 11-year-old grandson, Ethan Philip Strull.
The Elsie P. Judah Award will be presented at the JCL’s Annual Meeting, Sunday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the JCC. Many other awards will also be presented at that time, officers and Board members will be elected and the community will have the opportunity to meet and hear from the JCL’s new President/CEO Stu Silberman.
The community is welcome and desserts will be served.