by Phyllis Shaikun
Special to Community
It is hard to believe that Sandi Friedson has been able to accomplish so much to benefit the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section and the community at large in a relatively short period of time. Since moving here in 1996, she has gladly and efficiently taken on numerous section-related duties and responsibilities, including the group’s presidency, with diligence, determination and ultimate success.
In recognition of her many accomplishments, NCJW awarded Friedson their Henrietta Herzfeld Award at the section’s closing meeting on Wednesday, May 28, at Majid’s. Created in 1976, the award is presented to a member of the Louisville Section who, by her service to NCJW, has been a model to all.
Friedson grew up in Indianapolis and earned both a B.S. and an M.S. in education from Indiana University. She taught school for 33 years before coming to Louisville. Both she and her first husband, Joe, were active in the community. At one point, they were directors of the 500 Festival and acted as host and hostess of the Celebrity Committee. She recalls meeting famous personalities of the day including Merv Griffin, Edie Adams, astronauts and even the Lone Ranger.
Sometime after Joe passed away, she was introduced to her husband, Barry, through mutual friends. The two have been married 27 years and relocated to Louisville 18 years ago.
A life member of NCJW, her involvement with Louisville Section began when her friend, Marilyn Spitzberg, encouraged her to join. She met Betty Pohn, who became her mentor, and began working at the Nearly New Shop (NNS). Since then, she has chaired the section’s Education Committee, served on the Planning and Development Committee, was vice president of the NNS for six years and was the section’s president from 2003-2005.
During her term in office, the NCJW Run/Walk program began and she was a member of that committee. She just recently stepped down as the section’s Kentucky State Public Affairs chair.
Despite her busy schedule, she was active in the greater community as well. One of the founders of the ROAR literacy program sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation (now the Jewish Community of Louisville), she also sat on the board of CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center. A former vice president of Jewish Family and Career Services (JFCS), she served on the organization’s Marketing and Development and Finance Committees and was a member of the Executive Committee.
In addition, Friedson chaired the board of the Louisville Visual Art Association and was responsible for their DinnerWorks event, art auction and children’s free art classes. She also served on the Family Place board, chaired the program committee and clinical program for Family & Children’s Place and was involved with Visually Impaired Preschool Services and Community Coordinated Child Care (4C). She continues to serve on the boards of the 4C and JFCS.
In 2009, Friedson received the WLKY Bell Award from the Spirit of Louisville Foundation and was invited to be a member of its board. The program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the true “spirit of Louisville” through selfless volunteer service to our community. That same year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and continues to deal with the disease.
She philosophizes: “You either adjust to life or you waste away. When things happen, you just have to deal with them. You acknowledge that things are what they are and move on.”
She truly believes in tikkun olam – you help where you see the need. “Volunteerism teaches you to do and see things you wouldn’t do ordinarily,” she says. “It forces you to step out of your comfort zone – and you grow from the experience.”
Her husband concurs. “Sandi has and will always give her all and very best to any project she is associated with,” he says. “I am very proud of her!”
The Friedsons are members of The Temple. They have three children, Jeff Friedson, Ilene Currier and David Friedson; and one grandson, Jason Friedson.