Jewish Community of Louisville Together in Life, Learning and Leadership Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:02:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Allocation of 2015 Federation Campaign Funds Announced Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:03:54 +0000 Read More >]]> Each year, the needs of our Jewish communal agencies exceed the dollars available from the Annual Federation Campaign. For the 2015-16 fiscal year, requests for funding totaled $2,280,720. While the Campaign raised more money this year than last, the community had only $1,926,000 to allocate – just 84 percent of the funds needed.

That means difficult choices have to be made, and those choices fall to the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Planning and Allocations Committee, chaired this year by Leon Wahba.

allocations-2015When this year’s Campaign closed, $2.1 million had been raised. That total included $41,000 that was received from the 2014 Campaign above the amount that was allocated last year, less $5,500 the Board had already allocated. This enabled the Planning and Allocations Committee an additional $71,000 to allocate this year for a 3.8 percent.

The difference between the amount raised and the amount available to allocate is a set-aside to cover unpaid pledges. If more money comes in than what was allocated, it will be added to the money available for allocations next year.

The committee, Wahba explained, is made up of a cross-section of the community. It is balanced with respect to age, gender and congregational affiliation and they work well together for the good of the entire community.
This year’s committee, in addition to Wahba, included Vice Chair Jon Fleischaker, Harry Geller, Lance Gilbert, Jane Goldstein, Ralph Green, Dennis Hummel, Elizabeth Kaplan, Joy Kaplan, Paul Margulis, Ellen Rosenbloom, Leni Sweet and Jacob Wishnia. The recommendations of the Planning and Allocations Committee were reviewed and approved by the JCL’s Finance Committee, Executive Committee and the full Board.

Although the allocations process takes place in the spring, the Planning and Allocations Committee works year ’round. “We meet with each recipient agency twice a year, to check on their progress, ensure they are true to their mission and to see where else we might be able to help,” Wahba explained.

During the allocations process, each recipient agency presents its funding request for the new fiscal year, make its case for its request and has the opportunity to answer questions from committee members.
After serious deliberation, the committee agreed to limit Louisville’s allocation to Israel and overseas “to 10 percent of the Campaign total” in keeping with Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) requirements. The allocation of $192,600 is just 71 percent of what had been requested, but is an increase of $2,600 over what was allocated last year.

The Israel and overseas allocation, channeled through JFNA supports the Jewish Agency (JAFI), including Partnership 2Gether; the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC); and more. “We lament our inability to direct more monies to Israel,” Wahba said, “but stand by our belief that our community’s needs take priority. And that Israel, today, is better served by our funding more adequately our JCRC [Jewish Community Relations Council] and its Israel advocacy programs” and Hillel, which helps college students address anti-Israel and anti-Jewish encounters on college campuses.

This year, the Planning and Allocations Committee also sent a recommendation to the Endowment Investment Committee asking it “to consider directing an additional $50,000 of our [the JCL’s] investments toward Israeli equities.

The committee usually spends a lot of time discussing the allocation to the schools. Most Jewish communities do not invest Federation Campaign dollars in synagogue religious schools. “In fact, the JCL is just one of six communities our size [in the country] that directs dollars to synagogue religious schools,” Wahba said. When it comes to the percentage of Campaign dollars allocated to those schools, Louisville has the second highest allocation.

This year, the committee continued past policy and funded Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad, The Temple Religious School and the High School of Jewish Studies at $250 per student. As enrollment has dropped, those allocations decreased proportionately, and the total allocated to the schools is $9,500 less than last year.

Recognizing the nature of the services Jewish Family & Career Services supplies and that the demand for counseling, career services and help with other needs continues as our nation recovers from the recession, the committee allocated $325,000 to the agency, 96 percent of what it requested. This is $16,000 more than what JFCS received last year and is a five percent increase. The Committee allocated $1,262,125 to the Jewish Community of Louisville, just 86 percent of the amount requested. This is a 5.6 percent increase over what it requested last year, and is less than what used to be allocated to the Federation and the JCC when they were separate agencies. This level of support “makes it a real struggle at the JCL to accommodate our constituents,” Wahba said.

Funding for the JCL supports scholarships for camp and other programs for families that could not otherwise afford the fees; the Hillel program for college students; the JCRC; teen programming, including BBYO, Teen Connection and J-Forty Fivers; the Senior Adult Nutrition program and other mission-based programs.

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Most Admired Woman in the Arts: Marsha Bornstein Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:59:13 +0000 Read More >]]> Marsha Bornstein-1colFor 31 years, Marsha Bornstein has worked at the Jewish Community Center, and for the past 10 of those years, she’s headed up the Louisville Jewish Film Festival. But recently, she got a taste of what it feels like to be a star.

Bornstein was nominated then voted Today’s Woman’s Most Admired Woman in the Arts in the June issue.

“I was quite shocked really, because I got an email, saying ‘You have been nominated in most admired category in the arts’,” Bornstein said. “I was like, ‘What?’ I called Sara (Klein Wagner, CEO) and said, ‘Is this for real?’”

She said she initially thought it was a kind of scam in which make you buy a book or something. But Wagner assured her it was definitely real.

Bornstein still doesn’t know who nominated her, but she has some suspicions. She said she was surprised that she was nominated in the same category as other prominent people in the arts.

“I didn’t really promote this much myself,” she said. “I’m not going out there telling everybody to vote. It’s too embarrassing. If that’s the way I have to win, I don’t want to win.”

But word of mouth and a little promotion by the JCC’s staff and members helped to push her over the top. “It made me feel good,” she said. “It made me feel like the JCC was proud of my accomplishments. I was very proud. It’s one thing to be recognized for your professional abilities, and it’s another thing to have people personally vote for you. I had the seniors down here telling me, ‘Oh, I voted for you!’ That was very heartwarming. That was the icing on the cake.”

Bornstein had her hair and makeup professionally done for the photo shoot, and when she arrived at the magazine, the staff and photographers treated her very well.

“The very first picture they said, ‘Oh that’s good!’ And they might say that to everyone. But I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to be OK.’

“Then afterwards, I came to work and people were coming into my office because others were saying, ‘You gotta go look at Marsha!’

“That night I went to Yom Ha’atzmaut, and I still had my makeup and clothes on. Someone from my exercise class said she didn’t recognize me at first. It’s a little different than I look in the morning! It’s too high maintenance for me.”

Bornstein said the attention on herself was fun, but it wasn’t her main goal.

“The recognition I felt when I saw (the magazine), my feeling was really, this is great for the film festival. This is my goal – to get the word out about the film festival in the community!

“And then I didn’t want to talk about myself. I wanted them to know about the JCC. People still don’t know about us, that you don’t have to be Jewish. They don’t know about the arts here. We have the best community theater in the whole state! And there’s a lot of people that don’t know that.”

Many Years at the JCC
Bornstein began her career at the JCC as the middle school director running middle school camps. One of the camps she created was an arts camp because JCPS had cut funding for arts education.

“What I liked about it was that it was many different forms of art,” she said. “There were pottery and visual arts, theater and dance, and I brought in art professionals to run it. I’m proud of that camp.”

She was eventually made cultural arts director, and she ran the Jewish Community Orchestra, the Patio Gallery and CenterStage.

“We also had so many classes back then – dance, movement, visual art classes. That’s how I really got into it.”

After her parents became ill, she quit, then came back part-time as director of Jewish Life and Learning after the death of her mother. She managed the Goldstein/Liebson Scholar-in-Residence Program, the JCC Book Festival and the Jewish Film Festival.

“I had to learn how to do this all on my own,” she said. “The others weren’t that hard, but the film festival was tough.”

She had to learn about legal issues, venues, marketing and all the other details that went along with it. “But, you know, that’s like every job. It looks a lot easier than it is.”

The festival has now completed its 17th year. When she first took it over, there were five films shown, with no speakers. This year, there were 11, and many included speakers and discussions after the viewings. The festival grows more popular every year.

Awards Banquet
Bornstein’s favorite part was yet to come. She went to the awards ceremony on June 23, where she gave a speech about a woman she admires.

Her choice was her longtime friend and officemate, Cultural Arts Director Slava Nelson. Nelson was born and raised in Kiev, in the former Soviet Union. Bornstein met Nelson not long after she arrived in Louisville and has been amazed at the hardship Nelson has endured as well as how far she has come in adapting to her new surroundings.

An excerpt from Bornstein’s speech shows the love and admiration she has for Nelson:
“Many people have a difficult life but not everyone continues to shine so brightly and with such enthusiasm for life. She once said at our Thanksgiving table, ‘Every day is Thanksgiving when you can have orange juice.’ She teaches me by example to appreciate what I have, to fight for what is important, to smile, laugh and have fun. Slava is a strong, compassionate, intelligent woman who has an impact on all who know her, and her zest for life is contagious.”

Bornstein is a constant advocate for her friend, the arts and the JCC.

“I have to say, I’ve certainly enjoyed feeling like a celebrity! I don’t seek attention, but it’s fun!” she said.

“It’s been a real feel-good moment. I do thank Today’s Woman for that opportunity. I’m honored and appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk about what I love.”

Bornstein just celebrated her 50th anniversary with her husband, Ed. She has three children, Lisa, Bob and Michelle; a daughter-in-law, Shifrah; and grandchildren, David, Jonathan, Mila, Shai, and twins, Ari and Noa. She is a member of Adath Jeshurun.

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First Annual Hunger Tikkun: An Evening of Camaraderie, Good Food, and Learning Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:47:08 +0000 Read More >]]> (see full photo gallery below)

Hunger Tikkun 2015-24An evening of camaraderie, good food, and learning was had by all at the First Annual Hunger Tikkun, sponsored by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council and Dare to Care Food Bank. On May 20, around 30 people representing many different faith traditions gathered in the Dare to Care warehouse for an evening of hunger awareness and mobilization. Rabbi Michael Wolk and Cantor Sharon Hordes led the program.

One of the traditions of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot is a night of learning (also called Tikkun), and on this night the learning was communal and focused on the issue of hunger, specifically here in Louisville. Rabbi Michael Wolk led with an interactive discussion about the obligations of hunger relief in the Jewish tradition. Dr. Syed Khader, board member of Interfaith Paths to Peace, spoke about hunger relief in the Muslim tradition, and Fred Whittaker, a teacher at St. Francis of Assisi, spoke about Hunger relief from the Catholic tradition. Among the many faith groups represented at this dinner were Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Episcopalians, Hindus and Presbyterians.

Hunger Tikkun 2015-18The final lesson was reserved for Brian Riendeau, executive director of the Dare to Care Food Bank, who spoke about the story of Bobby Ellis, a nine-year-old boy who starved to death in Louisville on Thanksgiving Day 1969. This tragedy so outraged the community that Dare to Care was founded to prevent any future deaths from starvation. Dare to Care is the largest food bank in the area, and having this dinner on the floor of the warehouse, surrounded by aisles and stacks of food waiting to be delivered, created a fitting atmosphere for these lessons.

After dinner, those in attendance were urged by Jewish Community Relations Council Director Matt Goldberg to take action. There are three things people in our community can do right now to help fight hunger and food insecurity. First, they can advocate for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (WIC), which is scheduled to expire this September. People can call their elected representatives and ask them to move forward on this.

Hunger Tikkun 2015-15Second, they can pledge to participate in and recruit others for the annual Dare to Care Hunger Walk (taking place this year on September 27 at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park at 2 p.m.). Attendees at this Tikkun were asked to begin forming teams within their own faith communities.

Finally, people were asked to make financial contributions to Dare to Care in furtherance of its mission to feed all the food insecure in the seven counties.

This program was made possible by a grant from Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and was chaired by Jessica Goldstein, chairperson of the Social Justice Subcommittee of the Jewish community Relations Council.

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Ottenheimer Award Winner Brown Strives for Healthier Community Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:39:22 +0000 Read More >]]> Christy Brown-1colOver the years, the Jewish Community Center’s Blanche B. Ottenheimer Award has come to be known as recognition for individuals whose work for tikkun olam, the repair of the world, has been extensive and sustained and the results have made a difference in Louisville, in Kentucky, and in some cases, even worldwide. Christy Brown, the 2015 Ottenheimer Award winner certainly fits into that category.

Of all her activities, Brown is perhaps best known for her work in the interfaith community. “My faith has always been important to me,” she said. As a Catholic, her marriage to Owsley Brown II, an Episcopalian, sparked her interest.

Starting with the similarities between the two faiths, she began to read about other faiths as well. She found Mahatma Ghandi to be particularly inspiring. “He was an extraordinary thinker,” she said, “who understood the deep commonality among faiths.”

This exploration led her to look for ways people like herself could learn more about one another through their respective faiths. At the time she was working with others to revitalize the Cathedral of the Assumption, so developing interfaith programming and helping establish the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, today the Center for Interfaith Relations, was a natural.

Brown found the work exciting, and as the project grew, she said, “we were making new friends and breaking down barriers. It allowed us to integrate in our community in very different ways. It’s been very rewarding for many of us.”

“We had been doing interfaith programming for many years,” she said, when “Father Martin Lineback said we should put it into festival format.” The group went through the Yellow Pages mailing out a lot of letters inviting a very diverse group to participate in the project. “We thought that if we got 10 responses, we would be lucky, but we got over 40 yesses.”

With such a robust response, the group wound up renting Louisville Gardens for that first festival. Giving each participating house of worship a 10×10 tent to showcase how their faith contributed to the history and how it grew Louisville. The Jewish community participated from the beginning and Roanne Victor was among the founders of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.

Brown remains active with the Festival of Faiths and the Center for Interfaith Relations today. In addition, she is a founding board member of The Berry Center, a board member of the Louisville Orchestra, a trustee of the World Conference for Religion and Peace, a board member of the Sustainable Food Trust and a member of Colonial Dames of America.

She is also board chair of a new organization, The Institute of Healthy Air, Water and Soil. From this work, Brown and her friends created “the Circle of Harmony and Health, enabling our community for the first time to make health the lens through which all of our community decisions can be made in a healthy manner. From getting out of our places of comfort into places of learning and sharing.” The Circle of Harmony focuses on a variety of interrelated health issues and the integration of resources necessary to support human wellbeing.

Her work with The Berry Center is a natural outgrowth of her interfaith and community work. “I think Wendell Berry is one of the great prophets of the world,” she said. “He is so brilliant and wise and extraordinary.” When the writer’s daughter, Mary Berry, approached her about finding a way to preserve her father’s work, Brown was ready to help. “He is revered around the world,” Brown said. “He is and must become a great source of pride for all.”

The first thing Wendell Berry and his family wanted to do was to have the Berry Center create an academic curriculum focused on sustainable agriculture. The family chose St. Catharine College near Springfield, KY, as the home for this project. It is their hope that this curriculum will be so successful that it will be picked up by many Universities around the world.

Through her work with sustainable agriculture, she came to know Patrick Holden, whom she called a “remarkable leader” who has been instrumental in bringing organic foods to England. Because of his belief that in order to be healthy, we must have healthy food, he founded the Sustainable Food Trust in England, and when he asked Brown to serve on his board, she said yes.

Among her earliest activities in Louisville, Brown volunteered with Senator Thurston Morton with political work and co-chaired Le Boutique de Noel, an early fundraiser for Actors of Theatre Louisville.

Over the years, she has been the owner of Louisville Stoneware, co-chair of Mayor Fischer’s Finance Campaign Committee, the Kentucky delegate to the Stratford Hall Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, and a member of the Governor’s Task Force for Smart Growth.

In addition, she served on the Governor’s Mansion Foundation, the Citizens Advisory Board of the Kentucky Department of the Arts, the Kentucky Center for the Arts Foundation, the Kentucky Arts Council, the Downtown Development Corporation, the Historic Homes Association, the Junior Gallery, Louisville 15 (PBS) and Garden Club of America.

The Ottenheimer Award is the most recent in a string of community awards she has received over the years. She has also received the Louisville Forum Fleur-de-Lis Award; the Center for Nonprofit Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award; and Greater Louisville Inc’s Gold Cup Award.

She is a member of the Presbyterian Community Center Hall of Fame; was the Today’s Woman Magazine Most Admired Woman Business Owner of 2004; and she received the River Fields, Inc. Land Hero Award; and the Louisville Urban League Meritorious Community Service Award.

Brown received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Bellarmine University and is a member of the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame. She received the National Conference of Christians and Jews Award, the City of Louisville Historic Preservation Award, the Cathedral of the Assumption’s Monsignor Michael Bouchet Award, the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community Faith in Community Service Award, the Junior League Founder’s Award and was the 1993 Louisvillian of the Year.

The Brown family business is Brown-Forman.

Brown was married to Owsley Brown II until his untimely death in 2011, and their family also includes Owsley Brown III, his wife, Victoire Reynal and their children Chiara Shalimar Reynal Brown, William Owsley Brown and Catalina Christina Brown; Brooke Brown Barzun, her husband, Ambassador Matthew Winthrop Barzun and their children, Eleanor Conley Barzun, Jacques Martin Barzun II and Charles Winthrop Barzun; and Augusta Brown Holland, her husband, John Gill Holland Jr., and their children, Cora Gill Holland, Owsley Brown Holland and Lilla Brooke Holland.

“Blanche B. Ottenheimer clearly was such an exceptional leader, there is no question that this honor will absolutely inspire me for years and years to come.”

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JCL Salutes Volunteers at Annual Meeting Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:35:27 +0000 Read More >]]> (see full photo gallery below)

When Rabbi Gaylia Rooks delivered the invocation at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Jewish Community of Louisville on Sunday, June 14, at the JCC, she set the tone for the gathering, congratulating the award winners for their accomplishments, the JCL for a great year, and asking that the gathering be for the sake of peace, righteousness, justice, friendship, dignity and respect.

The majority of the meeting was a celebration of this year’s award winners. They are people who have put others first and worked for the good of the community. They are people who have stepped up and taken leadership responsibility and when called on to help have answered, “Here I am.”

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-23Ottenheimer Award
Roanne Victor and 2015 Blanche B. Ottenheimer Award Winner Christy Brown have been friends for many years. She described Brown and her husband, Owsley Brown II, z”l, as “a dynamic couple. They were both so full of energy with so much interest in absolutely everything. They were smart, good looking and generous. Their goal was and still is to make Louisville the best place in the world to live.

Victor summarized Brown’s achievements (see story, page 9) and how, as friends, she and Brown worked together to create “excitement, fun and money,” whether it was through the Hardscuffle Steeplechase to raise funds for the Kentucky Opera or bringing Victor Borge to Louisville for a concert with the Louisville Orchestra.

Brown also led the Cathedral Heritage Foundation in raising funds to modernize and refurbish the Cathedral of the Assumption downtown. Today, Victor said, it is a place downtown where all citizens can come to pray and get to know their neighbors. Victor also touched on Brown’s founding of the Festival of Faiths, commitment to human health through healthy air, water and soil all of which are shown in her dedication to making positive changes in the community.

In accepting the award, Brown suggested the Victor should be the one getting the award. She also said many of the earlier recipients of the award were her mentors and role models – people who work to eliminate prejudice and misunderstanding and to engage fellow Louisvillians in working for the good of all.

She called on those present to join her in working to make Kentucky a healthier place to live.

Blanche B. Ottenheimer was a dedicated and effective figure in the social development of the community. Working through a variety of organizations, she was an activist for non-partisan political reform, civil rights and social justice. She was largely responsible for Louisville’s Model Voter Registration Law and other innovations in the secular life of this city and county leading to curbing corruption and restricting boss-rule, and clean elections. She conceived and founded the Louisville Conference of Jewish Women’s Organization; she was one of the first women to serve on the Board member of the Y.M.H.A. (later Jewish Community Center).

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-26Abrams Volunteer of the Year
Jewish Family & Career Services Executive Director Judy Freundlich Tiell presented the Ronald and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award to Carole Goldberg and Linda Goodman for their work co-managing and organizing the JFCS Dare to Care Food Pantry.

Due to their compassion for those who are food insecure, Tiell said, they have become advocates for this cause and tireless volunteers. “They have created a safe and warm place that is respectful, not judgmental of the people who need the services,” she pointed out. With a calm manner and creativity, they are leaders for JFCS, at The Temple and the entire community.

Tiell also thanked Janet Meyer for brining them to JFCS and acknowledged the Abrams for creating the award.

Goldberg and Goodman accepted the award together, expressing delight and amazement at being chosen. They said it is humbling to be honored for doing something that gives them so much joy and encouraged all present to remember the pantry while they are shopping.

Community leaders at the Jewish Federation of Louisville, in the annual Federation Campaign and with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (nationally) and the Jewish Community Relations Council (locally), Ronald and Marie Abrams established the Volunteer of the Year Award to recognize an individual whose life is defined by Community Service.

Judah Award
Senior Adult Director Diane Sadle presented the Elsie P. Judah Award to Rosita Kaplan, who began attending the senior program several years ago with her husband, Phil, z”l. Following his death, she looked to the Senior Adult program for ways to fill her time. Now, she comes to the JCC before 9 a.m. four days a week to make sure the tables are set for the hot lunch program. She is the substitute chair exercise leader, enjoys the program’s day trips and is a member of the Senior Adult Committee.

In 2013, Kaplan participated in Jefferson County Public Schools’ Oral History Quilt and Theater program, through which she shared the story of how her family came from Russia to Cuba before coming to the U.S.

Sadle thanked Kaplan for “helping our Senior Department be one of the greatest in the state and the country.
Kaplan thanked Sadle, Slava Nelson and Natalie Kusyo for supporting her volunteer activities and said she feels honored to receive the award.

Elsie P. Judah and her friend, Ronetta Mayer, established the Golden Age Group for active seniors when the Jewish Community Center was built on Dutchmans Lane. When she died in 1972, she left a bequest to the JCC, and her son, Clarence F. Judah designated the proceeds for the Elsie P. Judah Award to be made annually to a Club 60 member for meritorious service.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-38Linker Award
Jewish Community Relations Council Director Matt Goldberg, standing in for JCRC Chair Becky Ruby, presented the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award to Jessica Goldstein.

When Goldberg first met Goldstein, the latter was working to help Sudanese refugees, an issue the JCRC was not addressing. He soon learned that she was passionate about many of the issues the JCRC does address, so Goldstein was invited to join the JCRC. She took a leadership role immediately, focusing on hunger – the Hunger Walk, hunger relief and the Hunger Tikkun.

“Jessica cares about the community, she cares about Louisville, she cares about the world, and she cares about soccer,” Goldberg said.

The Linker Award came as a surprise to Goldstein, which she said it is gratifying and humbling and embarrassing. She’s more comfortable working behind the scenes on meaningful projects than standing in the spotlight and grateful for the opportunity to participate.

She feels that she is really the beneficiary of volunteering as she has found comfortable home, new friends and reinvigorated older friendships with those she knew before. She has been able to set a good example for her son, Simon, and thanked him for participating in projects with her.

Goldstein was also touched by a congratulatory note she received from Alan Linker and promised to “work as hard as I can to be a positive part and contribute to that legacy.”

Julie E. Linker was a young leader in the Louisville Jewish community with a passion for community relations work. When she died, the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award was established to perpetuate her name and to encourage young people who share her passion and give them the opportunity to attend the JCPA Plenum.

Cole and Kaplan Awards
Keren Benabou, last year’s Cole Award winner presented the Lewis W. Cole Memorial Young Leadership Award to Ross Cohen and the Joseph J. Kaplan Young Leadership Award to Scott Weinberg.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-40Cohen, a Louisville native, has been involved in the Jewish community from an early age, Benabou said. After law school, he again engaged with the Jewish community. When the Jewish Community Federation and the Jewish Community Center merged to become the Jewish Community of Louisville in 2009, Cohen helped prepare the necessary legal documents. Now, he volunteers his time to review the bylaws and to assist with the Finance Committee and the Jewish Foundation of Louisville.

Cohen shared some memories of growing up at the JCC and thanked Michael Shaikun for re-involving him with the JCL. He expressed appreciation for the honor and looks forward to working with Sara Wagner and the JCL in the future.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-41Scott Weinberg has been active in the Jewish community throughout his life, Benabou said. He was a leader in BBYO and in Hillel; he participated in and later led the Young Leadership Development program, volunteered for the Campaign and was an AZA advisor. More recently, he chaired the JCL’s Strategic Plan Program Committee. He will be the next president of Keneseth Israel.

Weinberg paid tribute to Joe Kaplan, whom he called a true mench who encouraged people to leave bequests to Jewish agencies. He said it is an honor to be included in the list of recipients of the Kaplan Award and it feels natural to be involved in the Jewish community. He thanked his family and, speaking to his children, said he is active in the community “in hopes that you will one day love and appreciate this Jewish community as much as I do and it will be part of your soul, as it is mine.”

Lewis W. Cole was one of the organizers of the Conference of Jewish Organizations (the predecessor to the Jewish Federation) and a committed volunteer for the annual Federation Campaign. He devoted his life to the Louisville Jewish community.

Joseph J. Kaplan was a devoted member of the community who was a leader in Jewish education and the served as president of the Yount Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA), the predecessor of the Jewish Community Center, and was instrumental in its relocation to Dutchmans Lane. He often encouraged people to remember the Jewish community in their wills. The award was established during his lifetime and continues today in honor of his memory.

Arthur S. Kling Award
Ed Goldberg, a past president of the JCC, presented the Arthur S. Kling Award to Lenae Price. “Since joining JCL as the development and outreach manager for CenterStage,” he said, “Lenae has worked tirelessly to build that program into a model of success. She not only cultivated donors and sponsors, she did whatever was necessary to ensure the success of the program.” Her success led her to even greater responsibility in helping raise funds for the rest of the agency as well.

Price, who could not attend the meeting, left a video to express her appreciation. She thanked the agency for being a home for her and her family adding that she looks forward to “making this place a great home for other families as well.”

The Kling Award honors the memory of Arthur S. Kling who was a prominent leader in the Jewish community, serving as president of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA), the predecessor of the JCC, and many of its committees. He was among the leaders instrumental in establishing the JCC on Dutchmans Lane. He was also instrumental in establishing the Bureau of Jewish Education and the Conference of Jewish Organizations, which ran the United Jewish Campaign.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-44Teen Awards
Assistant Director of Youth Services Mike Steklof announced the teen awards and presented the awards to those who were at the Annual Meeting. Many of the recipients are spending the summer working at Jewish summer camps or traveling or had other commitments, so they were unable to be present.

The Ellen Faye Garmon Award went to Laina Meyerowitz and the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award to Bradley Schwartz. Both are active with their BBYO chapters and have taken leadership roles. The awards will enable them to attend programs to enhance their skills that will help them become stronger leaders in their chapters.

The Joseph Fink Community Service Scholarship was awarded to Elana Wagner, who was active in BBYO throughout her high school career and will attend the University of Maryland in the Fall. She was instrumental in planning the J-Serve programs for teens across the city.

The Stuart Pressma Student Leadership Awards, which also include college scholarships, were presented to Daniela Reuter, Michael Schwartz, Katie Segal and Emily Wolff, all of whom were active in BBYO throughout their high school careers. Reuter will attend Miami of Ohio, Schwartz will go to Indiana University, Segal will go to University of Kentucky and Wolff will go to the University of Cincinnati.

The Levitan Awards, new this year offer college scholarships to teens who have been active in athletics, and it includes a college scholarship. Peyton Greenberg swam throughout her high school career at duPont Manual and will swim at Northwestern University in the fall; and Josh Rudy played basketball for St. Xavier and will attend Miami University of Ohio in the fall. Steklof also acknowledged Barb Schwartz, the outgoing Teen Committee chair; Cindy Schwartz, incoming Teen Committee chair; and the BBYO Chapter advisors Allison Feit, Andrew Segal and Jacob Kupferman.

Ellen Faye Garmon was involved in Jewish life through BBYO, the Jewish Community Center and in the general community. The daughter of Estelle and Selwyn Garmon, Ellen died in a tragic accident July 1968. At the time, the Gamma Kappa Social Club, of which she was a member, established an annual award in her memory to help further the work of high school students who shared her spirit and the ideals that were important to her. The award is given annually and is funded through the sale of all-occasion cards.

Stacy Marks Nisenbaum loved BBYO and was an active member of her BBG chapter growing up in Louisville. When she passed away a number of years ago, three of her close friends, Stacy Gordon-Funk, Wendy Snow and Sally Weinberg, established a scholarship program to honor her BBYO legacy. Originally begun as a BBG award, in recent years the award’s creators have given permission for recipients also to be young men who have been active in BBYO.

The Joseph Fink Scholarship honors the memory of a man who devoted his life to coaching, counseling and helping teens. He was always available at the Jewish Community Center to listen, advise and encourage young people.

The Pressma Awards were created to honor the memory of Stuart Pressma, an influential young leader who deeply valued leadership development. In addition to recognizing the leadership and achievements of these students, Pressma Awards include college scholarships.

The Tony Levitan Awards, created in his memory, go to a high school senior who participated in athletics and displayed outstanding traits of character and leadership.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-47Full profiles of most of the award winners were published in earlier editions of Community, and can be found online at

The program also included reports on what is happening at the JCL and the election of Board members and officers. See story at

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JCL Marks JCC@125, Agency-wide Progress, Leadership Change Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:25:39 +0000 Read More >]]> JCL Annual Meeting 2015-30The Jewish Community of Louisville Annual Meeting, held Sunday, June 14, at the JCC, was a celebration of volunteers and achievements, but it was also a celebration of the JCL, what it has accomplished over the past year and its hopes for the year to come.

The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, which was established just three years ago, is a major funder for the JCL, and Sandy Hammond, JHFE Board Chair, described the relationship with the JCL as “an important part of our mission.”

“In 2014 and 2015 alone,” she continued, “we have partnered with the JCL in various initiatives that total more than a million dollars, including contributions to the Annual Campaign, an award to camp and Israel scholarships, various support mechanisms for our seniors, investment in infrastructure at our JCC, sponsorships of the Jewish Film Festival and many other cultural and programmatic ventures.”

“To ensure that we have a lasting, thriving Jewish community for generations to come,” Hammond said, the JCL and JHFE will have to continue to work together.

JCL President Karen Abrams, who ran the meeting, thanked JHFE for its support and partnership in helping “build and sustain a vibrant Jewish community in Louisville.”

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-20What’s Happening at the JCC
Programming at the JCC is an important part of what the JCL is and does. After acknowledging the help she receives from Co-Chair Amy Ryan, Program Cabinet Chair Jennifer Leibson shared some highlights from the JCC. The celebration of the agency’s 125th anniversary included a Tip-Off event and special art exhibit in January and a packed house for the Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy event that was collaboration between the Jewish Film Festival and CenterStage.

The festivities continued in March as the JCC honored Annette Sagerman and in May, the JCC’s 125th anniversary float won the grand prize in the Pegasus Parade earning the first perfect score ever and there was a successful Mother’s Day brunch featuring the author of Nothing Like a Dame.

Leibson told the audience there are more JCC@125 events yet to come: an Athletic Hall of Fame event on July 27, a 125th Festival on August 23, a girls’ fashion show in August, a Dreidel Dash on December 6 and a JCC Gala to wrap it all up on January 23, 2016.

Other highlights she pointed out include seven months of exceeding membership goals has led to 2,450 membership units – “the most active members that we can find in recent records.”

Thanks to Mike Steklof, the BBYO program is very strong; and both Jay Levine BBG and Drew Corson AZA received chapter excellence awards at the International Convention.

CenterStage marked its 100th anniversary with a yearlong celebration, culminating in a sold-out run for Fiddler on the Roof.

To welcome newcomers, Shalom Louisville has recently been restarted and Shalom Baby continues as a popular program. Camp, under Betsy Schwartz’s leadership, has just started and “the energy is palpable here in this place,” Leibson observed. She also welcomed Noga Peled, this year’s Israeli shlicha.

The JCC also hosted the Partnership2Gether Steering Committee meetings in March, welcoming Israelis and leaders from other communities.

Leibson encouraged people to check out Frank Weisberg’s show in the Patio Gallery and noted that the agency now offers over 90 group fitness classes.

“From our preschool families to our seniors,” she said, “you can see there is really a feeling that people are proud to be members here and proud to be part of our Jewish community.”

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-32Campaign Report
In wrapping up his second year as chair of the Annual Federation Campaign, Doug Gordon was able to report that the 2015 Campaign raised over $2.1 million for the community – a five percent increase over the prior year.
“This year,” he said, “We were successful in changing the way the Campaign has run.” By implementing an intense 10-day span called the Week of Giving that culminated in “the most fabulous million dollar dinner out at the Standard Country Club with a great speaker and Jonathan Wolff” providing entertainment, the pace of the entire Campaign was accelerated. In addition, there were 175 new donors to the Campaign.

Gordon thanked the Campaign Cabinet, vice chairs Leon Wahba and Ariel Kronenberg and the JCL staff and announced that Wahba will chair the 2016 Campaign. He quipped that he was “starting the reelect Leon Wahba for one more year campaign, because it takes two years to really get this job done in the way you’re going to want it to be done.”

President’s Report
In summing up her two years as JCL Board chair, Karen Abrams was able to point to solid achievements and forward momentum that began with developing and implementing a new strategic plan that defined the agency’s mission “to build and sustain a vibrant, caring, inclusive community rooted in Jewish values” and its vision as “fulfilling the needs of the Jewish community.”

“Everything we have done and continue to do stems from our mission and vision statements,” she said, “and I am proud of our commitment to building our community.”

Among the things she and President and CEO Stu Silberman instituted are quarterly meetings with the Louisville Board of Rabbis and Cantors and with the past presidents. The JCL has also embraced feedback, participating in JCCA benchmarking and working with JCCA consultant Dori Dennelle on a Board self-assessment, and then acting on the recommendations.

This has also been a time to gather information. A Land Use Committee analyzed where the JCC’s constituents live and determined that we need a presence on Dutchmans Lane and we need to offer some programming in other venues. An example of this is a joint membership program with Standard Country Club for pool and tennis.

The JCL is also working with a consultant to determine the ideal footprint and space planning for the agency.
“We are very appreciative of the generosity of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence,” Abrams stated. “They supported us with $200,000 for our building and partnered with us for the Meet the Challenge Grant, matching the $120,000 we raised.” Among the things this investment made possible are the new ramp, CenterStage’s new chairs, remodeled locker rooms, scholarships that help families send their children to overnight camp and Israel, and outreach and teen programming. “JHFE’s support is making a huge difference in our community,” she said.

She recapped some of the Campaign highlights reported by Doug Gordon and thanked him for his hard work.

For Abrams, one of the most fulfilling experiences of her term was interacting with the seniors – sharing lunch with them and helping them get the garden going. “I encourage each of you to have lunch one day downstairs and warm your hearts,” she said, adding words of praise for Senior Program staff Diane Sadle, Slava Nelson and Chef Garry.

She thanked Silberman “for bringing us to a better place. We are all excited for him as he becomes the Federation director in Minneapolis and helps them move to a better place.” She also thanked the Board, Executive Committee and staff.

Jay Klempner, she said, has been “the best chair-elect a Board chair could have. Jay is always available. He works hard and he cares so much. We are all in good hands.” She also singled out Jane Goldstein as her mentor.
“Jay and Sara [Wagner],” she concluded, “I envy you. The next two years are going to be very exciting. We will know our ideal footprint. We will know whether we can afford to renovate and/or build. We will be in an even better financial place.”

Silberman presented Abrams a gift of appreciation for her service.

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-34Silberman’s Farewell
When he first came to Louisville, Silberman said, the community was facing the great challenge of bringing the Federation and the JCC together into one agency and there were many doubters. “They were very concerned about Louisville’s Jewish future,” he said, “and didn’t see what we now see today, a bright future ahead of us.”
Through passion, commitment and intellect, Silberman said, “the JCL has emerged as a shining example nationwide of what communities can do when they choose to find a new way of operating.”

Silberman credited the lay/professional partnership he enjoyed with David Klein, z”l, with enabling the JCL to become the agency it is today. “David spent his final few years fully engaged in helping me deliver what many said couldn’t happen,” he said.

Silberman also thank the agency’s supporters for “your commitment to our Jewish community,” adding that he and his family “will forever be grateful to Louisville for giving me the chance that you did five years ago.”

JCL Annual Meeting 2015-28Sara Wagner
Incoming JCL President and CEO Sara Wagner took a moment to reflect on when she returned to Louisville, her hometown, 25 years ago, and it was the first Campaign event for both Wagner and Karen Abrams.

Jeanie Goykhberg was a New American who came during Operation Exodus. She told the story of why it is so important that we save people and helped families from the former Soviet Union, Wagner said. “At the end of the night, Karen said, ‘before I came tonight, I decided what to give, but after hearing Jeanie, I’ve changed my mind and I’m doing more.”

Wagner shared the story “because for almost 25 years Karen has been doing more. Every time she sees that there is a need in this community, she’s stepped up.” She offered her personal thanks because they started the journey together and Wagner always remembered the impact of Jeannie Goykhberg’s story.

She started by thanking the Board members, past and current, noting that no organization like the JCL would be successful without volunteers who spend their time and give of themselves. She also said, “we have incredible staff, everyone from Paula [DeWeese], who joined us in 1978 to Norma Cahen … who is our new Early Learning Early Childhood director, who joined us in February. … I am confident that you’re just going to keep seeing things grow and blossom really because of our dedicated staff.”

She said she looks forward to working with Jay Klempner, the incoming Board Chair.

Wagner stressed the importance of working together in partnership with JFCS, the congregations, JHFE, the schools and the entire community because we are all stronger when we support one another and come together.

Looking around the room, she was filled with memories of things she experienced at the JCC and at camp and with family and said she looks forward to helping people find their Jewish memories and create their Jewish dreams.

Board and Officer Elections
At the end of the meeting, David Kaplan, chair of the JCL Governance Committee conducted elections.
Keren Benabou, Sarah Harlan, Dr. Jon Klein, Ariel Kronenberg, Ben Vaughan and Amy Wisotsky were elected or re-elected to three-year terms on the JCL Board of Directors by community members present at the meeting.
Board members then elected officers for the coming year: Jay Klempner, chair; Leon Wahba, vice chair; Jon Fleischaker, vice chair; Dr. Jeff Tuvlin, secretary, and Dr. Karen Abrams, immediate past chair.

Kaplan thanked Stuart Goldberg and Doug Gordon, who completed their terms, for their service.

He also thanked Governance Committee members Bruce Blue, Bob Bornstein, Lance Gilbert, Dennis Hummel, Steve Linker, Susan Rudy and Mark Weiss.

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MOSAICS Fete Five Top Achievers Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:19:30 +0000 Read More >]]> The United States is a place where immigrants have come for centuries to make new and better lives for themselves. Here in Louisville, a bustling immigrant population has helped make this city incredibly unique and diverse. Jewish Family & Career Services, originally founded to resettle Jewish immigrants, still works with immigrants today.

To honor immigrants and refugees who settled in Louisville and have made a difference through their professions, impacting our community and often beyond, and to connect with the agency’s mission, JFCS presents the MOSAIC Awards annually. The MOSAIC Awards are an acronym that stands for representing Multicultural Opportunities for Success & Achievement In our Community.

On May 21, the program celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Honorary chairs were Jerry and Madeline Abramson. There were 440 people in attendance, which is a great increase over the attendance of 350 in 2014.

The JFCS Navigate Enterprise Center Business Showcase, held before the dinner and awards program, featured 10 new microbusinesses that received business training and loans through the program. The showcase allows these entrepreneurs the opportunity to market their businesses and to gain new clients.

The winners of the 2015 MOSAIC Awards are Lalit Sarin of India, Luis David Fuentes of Cuba, Van Tran of Vietnam, Dr. George Digenis of Greece and John Rosenberg of Germany.

Lalit Sarin
Lalit Sarin wanted to pursue his dream of getting an education, and his dream came true when he attended the University of Wisconsin, where he got his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He got a job at GE’s Appliance Park in Louisville, and was part of an early team that implemented process controls not seen before at the plant. His work in engineering and quality control was instrumental in ensuring design performance and safety.

In 1982, Sarin raised the capital to purchase Valley Industries in Shelby County and promised local authorities he would keep jobs there. He led Shelby Industries to be a successful company with 30 consecutive years of profitability. His leadership in manufacturing and small business has positively affected state and national policy.

His core values, being generous, providing for others and lending a helping hand to those in financial need inspired him to give back to his community through generous scholarships that he established at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and University of Wisconsin.

He has helped other entrepreneurs by providing wisdom, experience, mentoring and investing his own money in their businesses ventures. He was appointed the Kentucky representative to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Businesses. He has also served on the U of L Foundation Board of Directors, was a Forum Fellow at the Courier-Journal and has served on many other local boards.

“When I came here, I made a commitment that to be successful, I must participate in society,” Sarin said. “Because I take so much form that society, I want to give back to something.”

Luis David Fuentes
Luis David Fuentes is a strong voice in the Latino community in Kentucky. He grew up in Cuba, and several of his family members still live there.

He worked in Chile as an air quality engineer, then immigrated to Kentucky in 2000.

Luis is a professional environmental engineer, working with the environmental protection division for air quality for the state of Kentucky. For the last nine years, he has been involved in issuing air permits for facilities state-wide. He also makes suggestions and recommendations for reducing air pollution to companies across the state.

However, his passion is being owner/editor of the Latino magazine, El Kentubano.

Today there are more than 75,000 Latinos in our community, and 15,000 of them are Cubans looking for services and businesses with staff who speak Spanish.

In 2009, Fuentes realized that there were not enough resources in his native language, and he started to put together information about Cuba, as well as tips and advice on how to be successful in this new culture. He printed 100 copies of a 16-page tabloid, and that became El Kentubano. Today, El Kentubano is a 60-page magazine and publishes 8,000 copies each month that are distributed free in more than 150 locations frequented by the Hispanic community.

Through El Kentubano, Luis has worked very closely with many non-profit agencies promoting the different programs available to Latino immigrants and minorities. El Kentubano has also supported many new small businesses owned by Latinos through articles, free advertising and features. Through El Kentubano, Fuentes created a cultural group that brings together artists in the Latino community.

“Thank you to the United States,” Fuentes said. “Thank you on behalf of the immigrants, especially form the Latin community, thank you for receiving us, for supporting us, thank you for giving us all the opportunities and schools. … On behalf of them, thank you. God bless America.”

Van Tran
Van Tran and her brother were two of thousands of Vietnamese boat people who fled after the communist takeover of South Vietnam. She worked in the rice business at a young age to help support her family, which included eight brothers and sisters.

Her father was able to raise enough money for Van and one brother to take part in a dangerous escape with 74 other people on an overloaded fishing boat. Pirates ransacked the boat and took their belongings and supplies. They were lucky to survive the journey.

After staying at a refugee camp in Thailand for 20 months, Tran and her brother were granted U.S. refugee status and relocated to Louisville with the help of Catholic Charities, and they were placed with a foster family. Eventually, Tran and her husband built a beautiful and successful life. Her mother immigrated just 17 years ago, and they live in a traditional multi-generational household.

From an early age Tran was self-motivated, energetic, ambitious, generous with her time and devoted to the Louisville community. She graduated from the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering and worked as an engineer at Humana for 12 years and at UPS for four and a half years. Afterwards, she went into the real estate business and opened an office in the heart of Louisville’s Vietnamese community.

She is focused on assisting immigrants of all backgrounds in her professional and personal life. She also established the Van Tran Insurance Agency. In both businesses, Tran was able to help hundreds of immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma find their dream homes and provide insurance for them. Recently, she put together the first Vietnamese news team that broadcasts local stories on the established Vietnamese language network, SBTN.

She is passionate about honoring veterans of the Vietnam War, and she also hosted an appreciation dinner for Vietnamese and American veterans that brought together these veterans to focus on many common goals.

Along with these contributions, Tran is known throughout the community as someone who is a resource, someone who lends support in times of need. This service ranges from navigating funeral arrangements to simply serving as a listening ear. She is always generous with her time and seems to have endless energy in her commitment to the community.

After the presentation about Tran’s community involvement, there was a video note of love from her daughter, who is serving overseas in the military.

“Honestly, it is hard for me to believe that I am receiving this award,” Tran said. “Can you imagine me as a little girl … I did not even believe that America even existed or that the four seasons of the year were real!

“Aside from the sadness that surrounds all wars,” Tran continued, “I grew up seeing American soldiers helping and caring for the Vietnamese people. They were my heroes. After coming to the U.S. in 1984, the American people once again opened your hearts, homes, arms to accept me as one in their homes.”
Dr. George Digenis.

Dr. George Digenis believes that one should live life to fullest and take advantage of all opportunities. His roots began in a tight-knit Greek family that encouraged education and professional development.

He got his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy at the American University in Beirut, then he journeyed to the University of Wisconsin to pursue his American dream and received doctorate in medicinal chemistry. He was invited to join the newly created University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy in 1967. He soon became chair and director of the department, and, within five years, the college achieved top-three status.

He served five years as senior scientist at the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. In 1997, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, Greece. He has published more than 250 papers and owns 18 patents in the area of solid phase reactions, synthesis of compounds, drug metabolism and more.
He is internationally known for tracking the efficacy of drugs as they are synthesized by our bodies. He is best known for making drug formulations like the first vaginal gelatin capsule against the transmission of AIDS.

He cofounded the only pharmaceutical company of its kind in Louisville in 2001, US WorldMeds, which creates pharmaceuticals that address unmet medical needs or overcome limitations of existing products. The company has grown from three to 150 employees.

“I have received many awards,” but this one is special. The MOSAIC Awards, “helps immigrants to be better and to come here and participate in this wonderful country,” Digenis said. “It gives us a lot of impetus to be better and to contribute to society. For that, I’m very grateful.”

John Rosenberg
As a 7-year-old child, John Rosenberg witnessed Kristallnacht, in 1938 in Germany. He saw the Nazis go into the synagogue next door to his house and take out all the Torahs and build a bonfire with them. His father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, but miraculously returned 10 days later. Given 30 days to leave the country, the family fled to Holland and spent a year in a Dutch internment camp before taking the last ship to the United States before World War II.

They eventually settled in Gastonia, NC, where he experienced a relatively normal childhood in the Southern culture of segregation.

In the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a navigator, he had his first experience of integrated living and the American dream – civil rights for all individuals. After seeing the persecution of Jews in Germany and the effects of segregation in his new country, Rosenberg became a lawyer and joined the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 1962 under Robert F. Kennedy. In 1964, he was assigned to the team of trial lawyers prosecuting members of the Ku Klux Klan for the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, which resulted in convictions.

In Alabama and Mississippi, Rosenberg successfully prosecuted cases of willing persecution and cases involving the poll tax and literacy tests used to keep African-Americans from voting.

After eight years, Rosenberg moved to Appalachia and devoted his life to civil justice for some of the poorest people in Kentucky. From 1970-2002, Rosenberg led the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, AppalReD, a non-profit legal services agency serving a 37-county region. He took on coal companies and federal agencies, and provided free legal aid to black lung and domestic violence victims.

In 2001, he founded the Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center in Whitesburg, to take over AppalRed’s environmental, mine safety and black lung work.

Rosenberg has organized and chaired a non-profit housing group, which focuses on housing conditions for citizens in Floyd and neighboring counties. Using volunteers, the non-profit has built 75 houses, repaired 250 homes and build more than 50 wheelchair ramps.

As member of the board of regents at Morehead State University, Rosenberg advocated for better educational services for Kentucky’s mountain communities, which resulted in the Morehead branch in Prestonsburg.

In 1996, Rosenberg also had a dream of an eastern Kentucky science center for science math and technology, a place where students could be turned on to learning and the wonders of science. The East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium opened its doors in 2004. About 10,000 students and citizens pass through its doors each year.

Foregoing a much higher income and the prestige of high-profile law firms, Rosenberg chose to use his mind to offer brighter futures and hope to many who needed only a little boost along the way.

“I couldn’t help but take a deep breath as I listened to stories of wonderful people who are co-honorees,” Rosenberg said. “When I heard the stories of all these other honorees here, I thought of how amazing it was for these people to come to a land where the culture is totally different. …

“We are so grateful to be in this country. Even though there is so much work for all of us yet to do to create a just society in this country, it’s still the very best country in the world.”

Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Sheikh Anas Ahmed, originally from Pakistan, received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. After spending several years in Thailand, he came to Louisville three years ago. Before coming here, he had been a student and had worked in his family’s jewelry business.

When he arrived, he began working with JFCS’s Navigate Enterprise Center, and two years later, opened Road Riders Taxi. Ahmed said that working with Navigate helped him understand business practices and regulations in the United States. Ahmed said he looks forward to the future growth of his business, but his main focus in on providing quality service.

Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Scholarship
At 4 years old, Dragan Petri had to flee Bosnia and Herzegovina with his family during the Yugoslavian civil war.

The family eventually landed in Louisville. His strong work ethic has resulted in many years on his school’s honor roll and earned him membership in the National Honor Society. He now attends Spalding University and will graduate with his Master’s in occupational therapy in March 2016.

Petri became interested in occupational therapy after working with Alzheimer’s caregivers. He is a strong believer in neuro-rehabilitation and positive thinking, and he wants to spend the rest of his life helping others transform their perspective on life into a more positive and optimistic viewpoint.

The Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Scholarship at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation offers grants to an immigrant or refugee pursuing a career in nursing or other high-demand healthcare fields. Petri received a $1,000 scholarship.

MOSAIC Award Artist Dan Barnes
Each year, JFCS commissions an artist to create one-of-a-kind MOSAIC awards for its honorees, and this year’s awards were created by Dan Barnes of Henderson County. Barnes earned his Bachelor’s degree in human environmental design from the University of Kentucky. The love of creating his own designs was what led Barnes to open his own business in 1986.

For more than 15 years, Barnes has earned a reputation in the design community for his design flair and top-quality craftsmanship in his upholstery and furniture design business. His upholstered pieces have been featured in several interior design shows.

Seeking another creative outlet, Barnes began experimenting with stained glass several years ago. After studying the craft from Laura Hallock in Lexington, Barnes began creating his own original designs combining light, color and texture. Barnes was awarded top honors for his stained glass in local art shows.

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JCRC Raises Awareness of Hunger Issues Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:15:36 +0000 Read More >]]> As a social service agency that serves more than 9,000 people across Louisville, Jewish Family & Career Services has a lot to be proud of and to celebrate. That is just what the agency did at its 107th Annual Meeting, held Tuesday, May 26, at the Louis and Lee Roth Family Center.

One of JFCS’ most visible programs is its food pantry. This year, Dare to Care recognized JFCS as the Closed Network of the Year. A closed-network food pantry is one that serves only its own clients.

JFCS President Debbie Friedman said that Dare to Care “is an amazing partner” that supplements the agency’s food collection efforts with additional food as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. They also monitor the JFCS Food Pantry to ensure it maintains high standards.

Janet and Sonny Meyer, she continued, created a buzz around the food pantry. “Through their efforts,” she said, “we now have two friend- and fund-raising events: Pizza for the Pantry each August and Bagels and Bingo in February.”

Today, volunteers from every congregation bring food on a weekly basis. Friedman specifically recognized Carole Goldberg, Linda Goodman and Melanie Fadel who manage the pantry, and Kim Toebbe, the volunteer coordinator who also serves as the liaison to Dare to Care.

Sonny and Janet Meyer formally presented the Dare to Care Award to JFCS, and Executive Director Judy Freundlich Tiell promised that it would be displayed near the food pantry.

Beautiful new signs that highlight the services JFCS provides, pay tribute to Lee and Louis Roth and incorporate the agency’s logo have been installed outside the building, Friedman said. The Roths’ commitment to tzedakah has continued through the generations to Bruce and Marcia Roth, David and Marsha Roth, and a total of 59 descendants.

“They were instrumental in getting this building built for us, mortgage free,” she said, and JFCS’ first freestanding home is a wonderful space for the agency. The Roths approached JFCS and asked how they could help further promote the agency and its work and it was decided that the signs would be the best thing to do. As a token of appreciation, JFCS presented the Roths with a leaf from the agency’s logo.

Every year, JFCS highlights the work they do by bring clients to tell their stories. Introduced by Mary Cleary and Kristina Mielke, Nicole Pettey, a young mother who works as a nurse, is now looking forward to closing on a home, talked about her experience with Nve$t in Yourself, and Severin Barumunungu, an immigrant from Burundi told about how JFCS helped him once he arrived in Louisville.

Pettey, who works for Norton Healthcare and Trilogy Health Services for Employees, said, “I never thought by opening a savings account a year ago I would be able to buy a home.” Classes in the Nve$t program helped her “prepare for my new journey” through classes at night that taught money management and helped her raise her credit score. She and her daughter are looking forward to having their own home, and she is so happy with the program that she is telling her coworkers about it. She expressed her gratitude to JFCS.

Louisville receives about 1,000 refugees a year, and JFCS helps many of them become self-supporting.
Barumunungu was a chemistry teacher in Burundi. He also helped erect schools and served as an elected member of Parliament as well as vice government of his province. He survived poverty and corruptions, conflicts between the Hutu and the Tutsi and two genocides.

He left when the country’s president asked Barumunumgu to join his party and the latter refused. The president threatened to kill him, and he decided staying in Burundi was too dangerous. Last April, he recounted, there was a coup, and his nephew was kidnapped, tortured and poisoned for several hours.

Barumunungu, who has been in Louisville 2-1/2 years, fled to Kenya, and the CIA brought him to Louisville. In 2012, he petitioned to have his family join him, and they arrived a year ago.

Last September, Barumunungu came to JFCS to see how he could return to teaching in this country. Today, he is working as a substitute for Jefferson County Public Schools. He sees a need for bilingual teachers and has a goal of becoming a chemistry teacher. “Thanks to JFCS for helping me get back to my career and helping me to grow,” he said.

Mielke said to continue her success in working with refugees and immigrants like Barumunungu she relies on volunteers. He is one of 200 she works with, so she needs more volunteers.

This year, there were seven programs nominated for the Mary Gunther Memorial Award for the best new JFCS program of the year. They were Pizza for the Pantry, Career Planning Services through the Career Academy, Jobs and Enterprise Center, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Services, Career-Leadership-Engrepreneurial Strengths Finder (CLESF), Long Term Unemployment Series of Initiatives (now KCCGO – Kentucky Career Center Get Opportunity), and Klein Older Adults Caregiver Support.

The winning program, KCCGO, helps the long-term unemployed – those out of work for six months or longer – with job search methods and behavioral health. The program has proven successful with 66 percent of participants finding acceptable employment within three months of completing the workshop.

Sean Wachsman presented the award to Bob Tiell, the director of Career and Workforce Development. The award, named after Mary Gunther, who was a JFCS Career Services secretary from 1959 until her retirement in 1992 and died in 1993, includes a cash award of $600.

Metro United Way, one of JFCS’ major funders has undertaken some new initiatives, and for one of them, MUW teamed up with Neighborhood House and JFCS on a program that focuses on financial empowerment, jobs, career, employment and self-employment. At a recent MUW luncheon, Jacqueline Beavin, a participant in the program, spoke about how grateful she was to JFCS for its help with career planning. With its help, she was able to start a hair salon.

Andrea Brown, the JFCS staffer most responsible for this program, was unable to attend that luncheon, so Bob Tiell presented the certificate from MUW to her at JFCS’ Annual Meeting.
A painting Ruth Nelson’s family brought with them when they escaped from the Nazis will be hung in JFCS’ Roth Family Center in her memory.

In her president’s report, Debbie Friedman spoke with pride of a number of successful JFCS programs. The Senior PALS program continues to thrive and is now the service of choice for several hospitals and medical groups, and, thanks to a grant from JHFE, the Joy!Ride now offers a single number seniors can call when they need transportation for events.

Other highlights include the start of JFCS’s community development financial institution, LHOME, is up and running; the program for the long-term unemployed, run in conjunction with Kentuckiana Works is having great outcomes; and the agency continues to provide food and emergency assistance to people in the community. JFCS is also initiating a supportive employment program for people with disabilities.

JFCS’ Community Advisory Council, chaired by Jay Klempner, is made up of about 25 members of the community representing a wide variety of businesses and interests. They are active advocates for JFCS and have been successful in getting word out about the agency’s work.

JFCS has a number of successful events throughout the year, including the 10th anniversary MOSAIC Awards and business showcase, co-chaired by Diane Tobin. The JFCS Food Pantry is a source of pride. Friedman encouraged everyone to support it by making donations of food and going to Pizza for the Pantry, which will be on August 16. The Bagels, Bingo and Breakfast event was also a successful event for the pantry.

Friedman also expressed appreciation for the deepening relationship JFCS enjoys with the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. JHFE grants have enabled JFCS to focus on unemployed and underemployed young adults and is creating a business advisory council.

In addition, JFCS has improved its physical plant, adding additional parking and upgrading building doors to allow for easier access for seniors and those with disabilities.

With over 400 volunteers in the past year, Friedman says the agency was the beneficiary of almost 24,000 hours of service. The volunteers, Board and staff all work hard enabling the agency to provide much more than it would be able to with staff alone.

Executive Director Judy Freundlich Tiell reported that JFCS served almost 9,000 people from throughout the region. “ We continue to see more people who have fewer resources and need more services,” she said. “But the level of creativity, commitment and passion exhibited by our Board and staff and volunteers to meet those challenges is unparalleled.”

Tiell had high words of praise for outgoing president Debbie Friedman, whom she said, “spent an enormous amount of time and energy to learn and understand the kind of work that we do.” As a result, she is the agency’s best marketer, always trying to connect people to JFCS’ services.

Tiell observed that Friedman is also an “excellent listener,” with the political acumen to “turn concerns and problems into opportunities.”

She thanked Friedman for her service, welcomed incoming president Stephanie Mutchnick and recognized staff for their service. Therapist Connie Austin and Finance Department member Jiwan Bista have been with the agency for five years; Director of Marketing and Development Beverly Bromley has been there 10 years; and Anita Jarboe, 15 years.

Mark Ament, chair of JFCS’ Nominating Committee conducted elections for new board members and officers.
Judge Joan Byer, Jordan Green and Julie Kling were elected to three-year terms on the Board, and David Cooper was reelected to a three-year term. Stephanie Mutchnick was elected president; Peter Resnik, vice president; Marc Charnas, treasurer; and Debbie Friedman, immediate past president. Mark Ament, Jay Klempner and Marty Margulis were elected at-large Executive Committee members.

Ament acknowledged Doug Roemer, Bill Ryan and Beth Salamon, who completed their terms and left the Board. He also paid tribute to long-time JFCS Board member Sandy Friedson, who passed away this year.

In addition to Ament, members of the Nominating Committee were Ed Cohen, Debbie Friedman, Jay Klempner, Marty Margulis, Stephanie Mutchnick, Peter Resnik and Doug Sharps.

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KI Gala Pays Tribute to All Jewish Veterans Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:08:28 +0000 Read More >]]> Keneseth Israel’s Red, White and Blue Bash honoring Jewish Veterans on May 31 was a very full evening that combined a respectful tribute to all who served in the military with and a lot of fun.

KI President Faye Weinberg welcomed everyone and Cantor Sharon Hordes started the formal program with the American and Israeli national anthems and a Mi Shebeirach for the congregation.

Rabbi Michael Wolk explained that he heard many stories of Jews from other countries who were terrified of being conscripted into the military because they knew, as Jews, they wouldn’t be treated fairly. The evening’s festivities celebrate those who served openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

Rep. John Yarmuth expressed his appreciation for the event. Jews have served in the U.S. military since colonial days, he reflected, and, until recently, served in slightly larger proportion that other groups. His own father was one of many Jews drafted during World War II.

Yarmuth thanked veterans and current service people for their service and said he now works with Heather French Henry to ensure we pay back our soldiers, that they get the services, health care and support they need and that we recognize the sacrifices soldiers and their families make.

The recognition of this event was a long time in coming, he concluded, but it seems right and good. The entire Jewish community is proud that we honor our Jewish veterans. “We are forever in your debt,” he said. Heather French Henry, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs who has made providing for veterans the focus of her work, spoke in tribute to her father’s service in Vietnam. When her father returned home as a disabled vet, he had a difficult transition, and French Henry said her year as Miss America was a tribute to him.

She focused her remarks on the Jewish War Veterans and the work that agency has done to help all veterans since its establishment in 1896. They challenged the National Guard’s refusal to let Jews become commissioned officers in 1912, were responsible for establishing Flag Day in 1916, have been distributing the Jewish veterans publication since 1925, started an auxiliary in 1928, sold War Bonds in 1941 and helped institute the GI Bill of Rights in 1944.

She, too, thanked all veterans for their service.

Col. Michael Fuenfer, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, was a general and pediatric surgeon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and today remains in the Army Reserve, introduced keynote speaker Army Major General David Rubenstein.

Gen. Rubenstein served as the Army’s Deputy Surgeon General and Chief of the Medical Supply Corps. He spent 35 years in the service, 12 in command, and has earned many awards. He also served as a Jewish lay leader at several bases, including Bosnia.

“Jewish service in today’s American military continues an unbroken line from Asher Levy in 1657, the first Colonial Jew permitted to carry a weapon in defense of the New World,” the General began.
His speech contained a litany of the names of Jews serving in the armed services who gave the ultimate sacrifice whom we remember on Memorial Day:

Maj. Lewis Bush in the Revolutionary War battle at Brandywine in 1777; 15 Jewish sailors on the Battleship Maine sunk in Havana Harbor in 1898 and Jacob Wilbusky, a 16-year old cavalry trooper, the first of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders killed in the attack on San Juan Hill in Puerto Rico.

Sgt. Maurice Joost was the first man to be killed in the attack on Manilla in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. Over 3,500 of the 250,000 Jews who served in World War I lost their lives; and about 11,000 of the 550,000 Jewish men and women who served in World War II also died.

Marine Captain Vivian Moses died during the Korean War and 269 Jewish warriors died in Vietnam. Nearly 40 Jews have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The General’s account was peppered with details of the actions Jewish men and women took that led to their deaths, and he concluded with the story of Louisville’s Max Berlin, a 19-year-old Army Private First Class “assigned to Echo Company, 328th Infantry Regiment, of the 26th Infantry Division in General George Patton’s Third Army,” Gen. Rubenstein said.

“He participated in the regiment’s assault of Moncourt, France, during the Lorraine Campaign, and he died there,” he continued. “He is buried in the Keneseth Israel Cemetery where I visited him this past week to say thank you, and to remember him.”

With his final words, a quote from the 26th Infantry Division report on November 9, 1944, the General ensured that there was not a dry eye in the house. “These men gave their lives, which was and still is the greatest sacrifice. They gave the most precious thing they had, leaving their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters back at their homes in the United States. Boys and men, so far away from home, from their families and friends, fighting in countries they may have never heard of.

“But they did it anyway, so that every man and woman may live in freedom. Even today we still appreciate what they did for us. May these men and woman Rest in Peace who have died during the liberation of Europe. They stand in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die, that freedom might live and grow, and increase its blessings.  Freedom lives, and through it, they live in a way that humbles the undertaking of most men.”
Councilman David James presented several proclamations.

The evening also included a silent auction, a raffle and dancing to the music of Kudmani. Rhonda Reskin, the evening’s organizer and chair, distributed challenge coins to all veterans. They were donated by Anne Shapira in memory of her son, Harry Shapira.

With tears in her eyes, she reported that KI had identified 720 veterans for the evening’s program.

In addition to Reskin, members of the Gala Committee were Carol Behr, Harriett Behr, Donna Evans, Sarah Farmer, Karen Goldsmith, Katherine Heise, Eileen Kaplan, Laura Levin, Jana Pedowitz, Sara Robinson, Ilean Rowe, Alan Roth, Rick Schuster, Judy Shapira, Joan Simunic, Debbie Smith, Evelyn Topcik, Beverly Weinberg, Faye Weinberg, Sheldon Yoffee and Yonatan Yussman.

The evening’s volunteers were Miriam Bird, Bailey Czerkiewicz, Michael Evans, Ali Hoge, Carly Nunamaker, Lilly Pinhas, Eric Reskin, Sophie Reskin and Isaac Weiss. Hillary Reskin was the photographer and Donna and Don Evans produced the video.

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JCRC Update | June 26, 2015 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:06:00 +0000 Read More >]]> Charleston Massacre Is a Jewish Issue
The tragedy that struck last week in Charleston should be sobering for all of us. Unfortunately, this act showed that the era of racially motivated violence has not ended, and that we still have much work to do here in America. This perpetrator was a young man consumed with causeless hatred; his words and actions, those of a twisted mind consumed by racial animosity.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Jewish community are with the victims, their families and the entire community of Charleston, hoping that a process of healing can begin. It is common knowledge that the Jewish community has always supported the African American community in the quest for equality and justice. We have seen the famous pictures of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching right next to Dr. Martin Luther King. (Rabbi Heschel referred to it as “praying with my legs.”) We also know the story of the three boys killed in Mississippi registering voters – two of those boys were Jewish.

I believe the cause of equality is ingrained in Jewish sensibilities, as we always remind ourselves that we were slaves in Egypt and are required by our faith and traditions to stand up for justice, and this is why the murders at Emanuel AME Church Charleston are, of course, a Jewish issue.

But it’s much more than that, too. Every decent person should be rightfully outraged that this could occur in the present time.

As I follow the news coverage of this story, I hear many angles and motives – I imagine that there is some truth to all of them.

Issues like the confederate flag in South Carolina, gun control, and mental health must be a part of the conversation going forward, but this crime was committed by a person who actually sought to start a race war with his actions.

As Americans, we must demand not only justice, but vengeance. Of course, the perpetrator of this crime will spend the rest of his life in jail no doubt, and the governor has already indicated she will support the death penalty.

But our vengeance must not be limited to the punishment of the killer. Our ultimate vengeance lies in doing exactly the opposite of what he hoped to accomplish with this action. Instead of a race war, we need to increase efforts at unity.

We need to work to eliminate all forms of racial and religious antagonism, a big job indeed. It looks like the community of Charleston, SC, is ready to lead the way.

I commend Charleston for its show of harmony subsequent to the tragedy. The rest of us need to follow.

Israel’s Actions during the Gaza War
This past week saw two reports issued as examinations of Israel’s actions during the war with Gaza last year. One was commissioned by Israel, where a group of former politicians and military leaders absolved Israel of any war crimes and placed the blame squarely with Hamas for any civilian deaths. The other report, commissioned by the United Nations, primarily placed the blame on Israel with some fingerpointing at Hamas as well.

Without going into the many flaws and biases of the U.N. report, we must keep in mind that Israel is fighting an asymmetrical war against an enemy with blatant disregard for human life – either Israeli or Palestinian. Israel is certainly not perfect (in fact, it has launched criminal investigations regarding some of its soldiers’ actions in Gaza), and we hope Israel continues to vigorously investigate those incidents where innocent civilians were killed disproportionally, and prosecute those responsible.

However, Israel took unprecedented steps in warning Palestinian civilians when their neighborhoods were going to be bombed. Their actions were such that the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, acknowledged that the U.S. would be studying Israel’s efforts in reducing civilian casualties while fighting asymmetrical wars of our own.
The events of last summer also stand as a reminder that the international laws of war need to be updated to reflect the modern battlefield where armies are forced to fight non-state actors.

We call on Israel to continue to research methods that reduce civilian casualties in the future while also calling on them continue the pursuit of peace so that there is no battlefield to contend with.

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