Dr. Mark Perelmuter, who with his wife, Marci, is chairing the Major Gifts event to be held on Thursday, December 1, 5:30 p.m. at the Henry Clay, is a local guy who seems to be related to virtually everyone in the Jewish community. In fact, during the process of our interview, we even found we had an aunt in common! He also revealed that his ties to the organized Jewish community have been woven into the tapestry of his life.
His earliest recollections are of the endless summer days he spent with his family at the Jewish Community Center pool. “My dad died when I was seven,” he says, “so I treasure those memories.”
Time spent at the JCC formed a pattern in his young life. A veteran camper at the JCC’s Camp Rickaree and an active participant in the Biddy Basketball program and physical education classes, he also represented the Center in open swim meets and competitions. He later attended and was a tutor at the Louisville Hebrew School, which met at the Center, and he was involved as a teen in B’nai B’rith Clubs, where, coincidentally, he met his wife.
His Center affiliation continued into his college days at the University of Louisville. He took part in the open basketball leagues and played the clarinet in the JCC Orchestra. It was there, 18 years ago, that his lifelong interest in Klezmer music was ignited when the Center brought The Klezmatics to Louisville for a performance. He was hooked and today plays with “The Lost Tribe” Klezmer group. He also paints and has had several shows at the Center.
Perelmuter studied dentistry at the University of Louisville, and, while serving a residency in orthodontics at St. Louis University, he maintained a student membership at the local JCC. He became part of their Big Brother-type program and was so impressed with the concept that he contacted Jewish Family & Vocational Service (now Jewish Family & Career Services) upon his return to Louisville and helped start the program here to help anyone needing a friend.
At the time, he was in a dental practice with his father-in-law, the late Dr. Theodore Segal, but continued devoting time to the community by serving on the JCC and JFVS Boards, chairing the Center’s Senior High Committee and teaching Sunday school classes through the years at Anshei Sfard, Adath Jeshurun and The Temple.
Perelmuter now practices orthodontics with Dr. Bradley Goldberg and is an adjunct professor at U of L’s Dental School. Recognized as a “Top Doc” by Louisville Magazine, he is among the top one percent of orthodontists worldwide using the Invisalign system of clear plastic aligners. He also frequently lectures around the country, in Europe and in Israel on Invisalign, jaw disorders and other orthodontic issues.
Despite a hectic schedule, he still regularly works out at the Center and is pleased that it offers him a great place to get together with his lifelong friends on a daily basis. His involvement in the Jewish community has spilled over to his professional life as well, since his office sponsors the Shabbat program at the JCC camp and supplies t-shirts for the swim team. One of the team mothers told Perelmuter how thrilled she is that her non-Jewish child can be a part of the team. He says that shows the JCC provides a meaningful interfaith tie-in for the community at large.
When asked why he chose to become involved in the Major Gifts event, Perelmuter credits Ralph Green, who is chairing the Annual Campaign for the second year, for inspiring him. “I am a friend of Ralph’s,” he says. “I admire him greatly for what he continues to do for the Jewish community. When he asked if Marci and I would be interested in chairing the event, we readily accepted.”
They are excited that the event will include people at different giving levels. They feel that, while major givers are philanthropic leaders in the Jewish community, others must contribute as well in order to meet our goals of improving JCC/JCL facilities, programs and services, and providing support for our local agencies and for Israel. Perelmuter feels these are uncertain times with lots of unknowns and protecting Israel’s security is of particular importance.
“My parents and in-laws were true advocates of community service and always felt strongly about participation and tzedakah in the Jewish community,” says Perelmuter. “They were wonderful role models for my wife and me, and we, in turn, have tried to set an example for our children – and hopefully for the generations yet to come.”
“We hope everyone will attend the event,” he says, “because we have a story to tell and the need is there.”