[by Holly Hinson, Freelance Writer, and Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor]
Opportunities to engage. Learning about and strengthening faith. Exploring Jewish identity. Training and leadership development. These are all ways that the Jewish Federation of Louisville and BBYO at the Jewish Community Center are helping to grow and nurture tomorrow’s Jewish leaders. In recognition of outstanding leadership in BBYO, the 2013 Ellen Faye Garmon Award will be presented to Maggie Rosen and the 2013 Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award will be presented to Ben Koby. In addition, Rosen will receive the Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship, which will enable her to participate in an Israel experience this summer.
All of these awards will be presented at the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Annual Meeting, Monday, June 3, at 7 p.m. (note changed time) at the Jewish Community Center.
Garmon Award and Cantor Israel Scholarship
Maggie Rosen, 17, is a junior at Kentucky Country Day. She is passionate about BBYO and has attended nearly every local and regional convention. She has held leadership positions in BBYO since her freshman year, first on Jay Levine BBG Chapter Board and currently on KIO Regional Board. Maggie was chapter communications officer and chapter president in 2012. She is currently regional recruitment chair and will serve in that capacity until December 2013.
Thanks to the Cantor and Garmon Awards, Maggie will have the opportunity in July of this year to participate in BBYO’s Summer International Leadership Seminar in Israel (ILSI). “I am very excited,” she said. “We will not only be touring historical sites but also participating in leadership training and seminars in the classroom that tie in to everything we are learning and seeing,” said Maggie. “We get to learn while seeing Israel and connecting with students from across the world.” Maggie will be one of seven teens from BBYO’s KIO region participating in the three-week trip. Maggie said BBYO has given her the opportunity to remain deeply involved with the Jewish community and Judaism. “I started in freshman year, and for some people, their involvement drops off after bat mitzvah, but this has really helped me continue to stay connected.”
Maggie has served her Jay Levine BBG Chapter as morah (vice president of recruitment), n’siah (president) and mazkirah (vice president of communications); and the KIO region as morah. She helped plan some six folds BBG sleepovers as well as bowling and other recruitment events. She also helped organize the regional AIT/MIT (Aleph in Training/Member in Training) recruitment convention in April 2012. Through BBYO, Maggie says, “I feel like I have developed courage – such as speaking in front of other people, and determination – just knowing that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have also enhanced my organizational skills. I can be focused enough and organized enough to plan a convention for 150 people. I have developed a maturity that is probably more than many people my age.”
In addition to BBYO activities, Maggie is active in giving back through the Jewish Community Center. “We had a carnival for underprivileged teens and I have been an active volunteer with JCC’s Israel Day. Ever since Hebrew school, I think I have been there at least once a week for some volunteer project,” she said.
As part of the Community Service Club at Kentucky Country Day, she has also been a frequent volunteer for the broader community. Her club has gone to food banks and provided presents to needy children during the holidays. Twice a year, they choose a focus charity to which to give of their collective time and talent. The list has included Cabbage Patch and the Kentucky Humane Society, a group that Maggie, an animal lover, has also volunteered for on an individual level, too.
When she discovered she had won both the Cantor and Garmon Awards this year, Maggie said she was deeply thankful to the award sponsors. “For the Garmon Award, I had to write an essay, and just to think that what I wrote deserved to win is a great honor.” With respect to both awards, she added, “It’s very kind of them to care enough about me going to Israel to do that. It really does make a difference. A supportive community can inspire youth to be leaders and to be the best they can be.” She is looking forward to seeing Israel – the Jewish State – and Jerusalem and to experiencing the pride that evinces. “Then I can bring that back home to enhance the Judaism here at BBYO,” she said. Maggie is the daughter of Penny and Mark Rosen. She has one sister, Lindsay. The family belongs to The Temple.
The Garmon Award is given annually in memory of Ellen Faye Garmon, the daughter of Estelle and Selwyn Garmon, who died in July 1968 in a tragic accident. The fund was established by the Gamma Kappa Social Club in order to further the work of high school students who, in the spirit of Ellen, are involved in Jewish life through BBYO, the Jewish Community Center and in the general community. The Garmon Award is supported through the sale of all-occasion cards. The Garmon Award provides funds to help BBYO leaders attend conferences to help them further develop their leadership skills
The Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship provides an annual scholarship to a high school junior or senior from the greater Louisville area to enable a teen to experience an approved month-long education opportunity in Israel. The Cantor scholarship was originally established by Milton Cantor in 1997 in memory of his wife, Ellen. When he passed away in 2002, the fund was renamed in memory of them both. Their son, Howard, who lives in Florida and Chicago, receives letters from each of fund recipients when they return home from Israel.
Ben Koby, this year’s recipient of the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award, is a rising senior in the Math Science and Technology program at Manual High School. An active athlete, he plays football, wrestles and did track at school. He’s leaning toward a career in law, so he also attended the Louisville Bar Summer Institute. This summer, he’ll be attending the Governor’s Scholars program. While school and sports keep him busy, Ben is also very active in the Jewish world and spends a lot of time as a leader in BBYO. He has served the Drew Corson Chapter as mazkir (vice president of communications), moreh (vice president membership), shaliach (vice president of Jewish heritage and community service) and godol (president).
In these capacities, he played an active role in planning many events including three overnights that he hosted. Recently, he helped plan the eighth grade “kidnapping” program, which introduces the incoming group to BBYO. He has also written several educational programs including one that looked at the various ways people express their Judaism and one that he described as a “poverty simulation” where groups of four went to a grocery store and attempted to purchase enough food for a week with a $40 budget. The food they purchased was donated to Dare to Care. He has also attended BBYO conventions, including CLTC (Chapter Leadership Training Conference) and the International Kallah. In addition, he was able to attend several AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) events through BBYO.
Ben is eligible for BBYO’s Tree of Life and Bronze Shield of David International Awards. This spring, Ben participated in the March of the Living.
When he was young, Ben attended Beber Camp for five years and he worked as a camp counselor at the JCC for a summer. He and his family are members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun. Ben’s parents are Risa and Chuck Koby, and he has a younger brother, Alex.
“I’m very excited and very pleased to be honored with the Nisenbaum Award,” he said, “and am thankful for this generous grant.” The award will enable him to attend an upcoming regional convention.
The Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award was created after her death by her three close friends, Stacy Gordon-Funk, Wendy Snow and Sally Weinberg, who felt the scholarship program was the best way to honor her memory.
Pressma and Fink Awards
The Stuart Pressma Leadership Development Awards are college scholarships that are given to teens who have been active in BBYO throughout their high school years and demonstrated leadership skills. The Pressma Awards were established in memory of Stuart Pressma, a dynamic young leader for whom leadership development was a priority. The Pressma Awards include a scholarship to help defray the costs of college.
Following Joseph Finks death in 1996, family and friends chose to honor his memory and his commitment to the Louisville’s Jewish youth by establishing an endowment that funds the Joseph Fink BBYO Community Service Scholarship that provides a partial-tuition college scholarship for four years to a BBYO member who is involved in community service work.
Sophie Reskin is the recipient of both a Pressma Award and the Joseph Fink Award. She was also the 2012 winner of Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award. The teen leader, who is a graduating senior from Ballard High School, was “excited and surprised by the awards. I am so grateful to the Pressma and Fink families for these awards. It is an honor to be recognized when there are so many hard-working teens in this Jewish community.” Sophie is passionate about BBYO and participated in many regional and local committees, including engaging new members in the opportunity for valuable Jewish education, youth leadership training and interacting with other Jewish youth. Elected to the post of KIO regional morah for two years, she was in charge of recruitment, retention and education, encouraging her peers to take part by being a “MIT (Member in Training) mom.” She also served as morah for Jay Levine BBG.
Through BBYO, Reskin was also able to attend the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference in Washington in March 2011 representing Louisville and the KIO region. At the conference, she heard Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama speak. The teen, who has also been a camper at Camp Livingston for several years, will be attending her ninth summer this year as a counselor. She said she feels the Jewish camp experience is an important steppingstone that offers growth and learning, not to mention fun, and she wants other kids to attend the way she was able to.
As for Sophie’s future plans, she will be attending the University of Colorado at Boulder and plans to be a pediatric cardiologist. “I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had being a Jewish teen in Louisville, through programs like BBYO and at the Jewish Community Center. They have truly made me who I am today.” She is the daughter of Rhonda and Jim Reskin, and has a brother, Eric, and a sister, Hillary. The family belongs to Keneseth Israel.
Alanna Gilbert, a graduating senior from Ballard High School, is the recipient of a Pressma Award. The teen plans to attend Indiana University in Bloomington and may study psychology. “I am truly grateful for this award. It’s so nice they thought of me. When I found out, I was excited and happy – and surprised. I didn’t even know I had been nominated. I want to thank the Pressma family. With college expenses, every little bit helps.”
With BBYO’s Jay Levin BBG, Alanna has been on chapter board since freshman year as s’ganit and mazkirah. For the last four years, she has been very active in all aspects of the organization, including attending local and regional conventions, as well as being the regional board mazkirah and helping to coordinate publicity, fundraising and community service activities like Operation Brightside.
“One of the things I have contributed is that we have changed how chapter communications are done to make it easier for girls to know what is going on,” said Alanna. Under her leadership, a chapter calendar was developed and the website and social media utilized to inform girls of what was going on more in advance. “We also sent emails to parents to remind their kids of events and activities to boost participation,” Alanna said. “I can see how the chapter is still using ideas I put into place.”
In her junior year, Alanna went to Israel on a three-week trip through Beber Camp and said it was the best experience of her life. “It was one of the best trips of my life. I really learned about my Jewish heritage.” In addition, through a special BBYO program called “Voice Your Vote,” Alanna had a rare opportunity to attend the National Convention for the presidential election last November in Cleveland, OH. “We learned about both sides of the campaign – Romney and Obama, and I chose to campaign for Obama,” said the teen. “I can’t even say how exciting it was to be there. We provided transportation for voters who needed to go to the polls. I know I personally helped at least eight people vote. Obama won there by a larger margin than expected – I really feel like I – and we – made a difference there.”
At Ballard, Alanna was an outstanding leader in many areas, she was a valedictorian for her senior class, president of Beta Club, president of French Club in her junior year, and a member of National Honor Society. She was a math tutor and involved in field hockey. Alanna said when she looks back to four years ago, she sees a different person. “I have grown in confidence as a leader and I feel more connected to my Jewish identity.” She said she looks forward to being involved in Hillel in college and continuing her passion for community service. Alanna is the daughter of Amy and Lance Gilbert and has a sister, Rebecca and a brother, Jason. The family belongs to Adath Jesurun.
Pressma Award winner Jordyn Levine is a graduating senior from DuPont Manual who plans to attend University of Maryland College Park. She plans to major in either business or law. Jordyn has been very active in the Jewish community and in BBYO, including serving as Jay Levine BBG’s gizborit. She also worked at the family gym and as a counselor at JCC, as well as a teacher’s assistant for Hebrew school at The Temple helping seventh-graders prepare for bar and bat mitzvah. Jordyn said she believes BBYO helps you bond with other Jewish youth. “You have so much in common, and through community service, you really begin to learn about all the ways you can connect with people.”
Jordyn attended B’nai B’rith Beber Camp for eight years. During one month-long Pioneer Program for leadership at the camp, the group helped to restore the Beber Camp waterfront and organized a carnival for a Jewish senior living home in Madison, WI. After completing camp, the group then visited Israel for three weeks. Jordyn said the experience was “incredible.” “We saw great sites – like archaeological digs and all the seas, but the best experience was when we did a home stay. We have relatives of my grandma who there we met for the first time. It was such a cool experience to see how they live and establish those family ties. One of the older girls in the family was getting ready to go into the military. It was great to see how much pride the whole family had in her. I feel much more connected to Judaism and I definitely want to go back to Israel again,” she said.
Jordyn is very active in community volunteering as well, particularly for the Home of the Innocents, where the service is a family affair. “My dad has been on the Board for the Home and our family always donates clothes and toys. I have also volunteered for them with their 5k Run, and collected books and toiletries as part of my service to bat mitzvah and for National Honor Society,” she explained. Jordyn’s school honors have included awards in computer applications and business ethics from competitions with the Future Business Leaders of America. She has been a member of Beta Club, National Honor Society and has been a Spanish tutor for elementary school kids.
Her other hobbies include photography and cooking. “I am known for my baking,” she said. “When my friends come over, they say ‘let’s bake something.’”
When Jordyn found out she was a recipient of the Pressma Award, she was very grateful. “I just want to say thank you for this scholarship. This means that someone thinks I’m a leader and that makes me proud. I do try to help mentor the younger children. I encouraged my little brother to get involved with BBYO. I told him you need to do it; it will change your life.” The teen said she feels that the education and tools you get through BBYO also strengthen your belief that your Judaism will be important throughout your life. “When you go out in the workforce, you will meet people at work like older Jewish women and they will understand. You will always have that connection through Judaism.” Jordyn is the daughter of Marci and Glenn Levine and she is sister to brother Daniel. The family belongs to The Temple.
Jacob Spielberg, a Pressma Award winner, is a graduating senior from Kentucky Country Day. Jacob has amassed an impressive list of awards and accomplishments for school activities, for community volunteerism and in Jewish youth leadership. The 18-year old has been a very active member of Louisville BBYO throughout high school, serving in various roles including three terms as godol, as well as terms as s’gan and shaliach. Under his leadership, Jacob saw chapter attendance improve by 70 percent. He has participated in numerous BBYO international conventions such as CLTC, IC (International Convention) and Kallah, and was part of a regional teen delegation to attend an AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C.
Spielberg also served as the regional fundraising chair for the KIO region of BBYO. He previously received the Ellen Faye Garmon Award from the JCL and the Leopold Marx Leadership Award from The Temple. After being chosen as last year’s recipient of the Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship, Jacob traveled to Israel on BBYO’s premier leadership trip, ILSI, where he said he connected on a deeper level to Israel and to his faith – while “having the most fun ever in my life.” He recounts his favorite experience was “experiencing the sight of the Western Wall on Shabbat.”
After falling in love with photography in school as a yearbook photographer, Jacob turned his passion into an entrepreneurial venture, starting a business called Duetto Designs Photography, and most recently teaming up with a graphic designer, also named Jacob, in a new partnership, Jacob Squared.
From a young age, Jacob has been an active community volunteer and fundraiser for organizations such as Hi-Ho Camp and Brooklawn, but in particular for dystonia, a cause near and dear to his heart since he was diagnosed with the neurological disorder at age 8. Fortunately, after a surgical procedure at age 10, Jacob’s quality of health and life greatly improved, and he hasn’t slowed down one minute since.
He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for dystonia through dozens of local, national and international fundraising events including Cars and Coffee for Dystonia, where he has teamed up with a local coffee shop and cars from across the city to participate in a monthly get-together to help raise money for a cure. All proceeds benefit the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson’s Foundation, which has helped Spielberg with all of his treatments
Jacob plans to attend Butler University and pursue an MBA or Law school or both, but says his real “ultimate career dream is to be a sports agent.” He has already been named “Fairview Scholar” by Butler even before his arrival on campus. “I am so very happy and thankful to the Pressma family for this honor that will allow me to pursue my goals,” said Jacob. One of those goals is to start the first –ever Jewish fraternity at his university.
Jacob is the son of Gregg and Linda Spielberg and has one brother, Nathan.
Pressma Award recipient Klaire Spielberg is a graduating senior from Louisville Collegiate School. She will travel to Washington, D.C., in the fall to attend George Washington University but she said she won’t forget the Jewish identity she forged and deepened through her involvement in the BBYO.
“The BBYO has been a huge part of my high school career and truly shaped who I am today. I don’t know what I would have done without the BBYO in my life – it has offered me a myriad of opportunities. “
As a BBYO leader, Klaire served as n’siah and shlicha of Jay Levine BBG and was the recipient of last year’s Ellen Faye Garmon Award, which enabled her to attend the BBYO’s International Kallah in Pennsylvania for 20 days. Kallah offers a deep Judaic experience in which participants are given the opportunity to explore their own Jewish identity and engage with others in programs on spirituality, culture and religion. In the summer of 2012, she made a five-week trip through Poland, Hungary and Israel as part of the BBYO’s Passport Euro Israel Central trip, where she saw the Auschwitz concentration camp among other sites that she said were “educational and inspirational.” “It was very interesting in touring the different countries and sites to see the progression of Old World Jewry to modern Jewry. I also made a ton of new friends. In fact, one friend from the trip is going to be rooming with me at George Washington,” said Klaire.
Klaire, who was elected “Regional Sweetheart” by other members of BBYO’s KIO Region, said she is most proud and gratified to see how the Louisville Chapter of BBYO has evolved from a small organization to one with 100 members and counting. I feel like my main contribution has been to bring back some of the old BBYO traditions, like the chapter leadership training through International BBYO. That has been an influential part of a lot of girls’ lives,” she said. The teen, who speaks Spanish and French and plans to study international affairs at George Washington, says she was inspired by her trip to Israel and now may be adding another language to her repertoire. “I am increasingly interested in Middle Eastern politics now. I really have a new found-respect and would love to return to Israel and to continue to serve. One of my goals is to be an intern for the BBYO Headquarters office in Washington.”
“I am truly honored to be given this award and grateful to the Pressma family,” said Klaire. “In fact, my father played basketball with Mr. Pressma. I truly hope that I can give back to the Jewish community in Louisville that has given so much to me throughout my high school years and my life.”
Klair is the daughter of Jamey and Jeffrey Spielberg and sister to a brother, David. The family attends Keneseth Israel.