(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.”
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).
Abrams 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.
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.
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.
Cohen, 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.
Scott 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.
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.
The program also included reports on what is happening at the JCL and the election of Board members and officers. See story at https://jewishlouisville.org/jcl-marks-jcc125-agency-wide-progress-leadership-change/.