JCL Volunteers Honored, Board Elected at Third Annual Meeting

[by Cynthia Clegg Canada]

The third annual meeting of the Jewish Community of Louisville was held on Sunday morning, June 24, at the Jewish Community Center.

Board Chair David Klein welcomed everyone and Rabbi Gaylia Rooks delivered the invocation.

Maggie Elder of Metro United Way spoke briefly, thanking JCL for its help in achieving MUW’s vision of “a community whose people achieve their fullest potential through education, financial stability and healthy lives,” with elder nutrition and youth services programs. She expressed appreciation for the community’s willingness to participate in the MUW mission of improving “lives and our community by engaging people to give, advocate and volunteer.”

Division Reports

Amy Ryan updated the community on JCL programs, centered on the theme of spirit. The “spirit stick” she brought is a coveted award among youngsters at JCC camp, one for which they compete daily with enthusiastic team participation in camp activities. This year’s enrollment increased by more than 100 new campers – up from more than 500 last year.

The JCC has also been very successful in “bringing fifth graders into an exciting middle school program,” Ryan reported, “which, last year, had participation from over 90 percent of identified preteens.” The BBYO program for high school students has also seen significant growth in participation.


Programs for all ages drew large crowds – from a performance of the Maccabeats to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) 5772, to wellness and fitness programs like Team Trek to Israel and the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy. In addition to several productions, including Hairspray and The Full Monty, CenterStage took its show on the road with a traveling school program called “Acting Out.” CenterStage’s float, “A Rainbow of Fun,” received the President’s Award in the Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade.

Susan Rudy reported on activities of the 2012 Federation Campaign, which has raised nearly $2 million for the purpose of meeting the needs of the Jewish community locally, nationally, in Israel and around the world.

Ralph Green was the Campaign chair, Kate Latts was the Women’s Philanthropy chair, Ariel Kronenberg was the YAD chair, Joe Hertzman was the King David Society chair, David and Elizabeth Kaplan were the Ben Gurion Society chairs and Amy Ryan was in charge of volunteer training.

Events included bringing Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, to speak in December; his appearances raised funds through the Major Gifts Event and a Community-wide Campaign Event, both chaired by Mark and Marci Perelmuter. Albom’s talks centered on the theme of his new book, Have a Little Faith, encouraging greater community involvement with his thoughts on faith, tolerance, service, and relationships – the core elements of a true spiritual journey.

On Super Sunday, February 19, volunteers led by Helene Kramer, the telethon chair, called many community members, asking for their support for the Campaign.

The Campaign also included the Young Adult Event with a mentalist, chaired by Seth and Heather Gladstein; a Women’s Event with the adventure rabbi, chaired by Janet Hodes, Kim Schwartz, Eleanor Schwartz and Shane Shaps; a Men’s Event with a card shark, chaired by Hunt Schuster and Jeff Tuvlin; a women’s event chaired and hosted by Sarah O’Koon; and more.

The Campaign supports expanded programming at the JCC, Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS), local educational groups, and in Israel, Partnership 2Gether. A wide range of other community events filled out the year’s programming, making it a great success.

Board Chair’s Report

Following the division reports, David Klein returned to the podium. He opened his remarks by reminding everyone that the JCL is a business – but it is a business that deals with being Jewish – “a business of the heart.” While increased operational efficiency, development and expansion of much-needed programs indicate a strong business, Klein focused on looking ahead and actively meeting the needs of a changing community, both within and outside the official membership of the JCL.

Klein observed, the JCC facility, community agencies and organizations are gifts from previous generations, who started them out of necessity and expanded their function as the needs of the Louisville Jewish community grew. Today, the JCL offers much to its members, but his vision is to reach out to the greater community of Louisvillians who identify themselves as Jewish but do not participate in JCL activities and programs.

Klein pointed out some historical events of recent decades that changed both American culture as a whole and – whether we see it or not – the Jewish community. First, in 1972, Congress approved Title IX, giving women equal access to educational and sports programs; that same year came the court-ordered desegregation of Jefferson County public schools. These events combined to change the needs of Jewish young people; they were no longer locked out of many extracurricular opportunities, nor were they locked into gender-specific expectations and limitations.

In 1990, the National Jewish Pop-ulation Survey reported that interfaith marriages exceeded 52 percent among American Jews – and that 70 percent of those families primarily identified as Jewish, opening the doors to the potential to expand the Jewish community greatly.

Klein spoke of the need for awareness of the evolving definition of “family” in our world, to include not just interfaith and interracial family units, but also single-parent homes and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and individuals; he emphasized that the JCL must be inclusive of all members of the community, in keeping with the original intent of the JCL, to serve all members of the Louisville Jewish community.

Klein praised the expansion of the JCC’s fitness facility, with the remodeled wading pool, cardio equipment, spin bikes and more. He also believes more opportunities exist and listed as possibilities a walking path on underused parts of the campus and a community garden that could provide a springboard for regular community Shabbat dinners at the JCC, giving the JCL yet another opportunity to touch the lives of community members.

In closing, Klein talked about his most recent trip to Israel and his growing awareness with each trip of the connectedness of local and international Jewish communities. “Our connections with communities in Israel make a stronger Jewish community in Louisville,” he observed, “and a stronger Jewish community makes a stronger Louisville community. … Ultimately, this comes full circle and our daughters and sons will find that it is cool to be Jewish in Louisville, KY.”

President and CEO’s Report

Klein introduced JCL president and CEO Stu Silberman, who thanked the Board and its chair and the JCL staff and introduced two new staff members: Stew Bromberg, vice president and chief development officer, and Larry Mestel, senior director of membership and wellness.

He then presented his vision of a wider reach for the JCL with a summary of this year’s strategic planning to date. The Strategic Planning Committee, made up of volunteers, is winding up its first phase. It presented new mission and vision statements to the Board the Tuesday after the Annual Meeting, June 26. Later this summer, it will offer an assessment of each of the JCL’s programs and services, as well as identification of unmet needs. The committee also has administered a benchmarking survey, measuring the JCC against other agencies of similar size.  It was used to set goals for improvement in a number of areas and is an ongoing project.

Silberman reported that throughout the year, committee members and staff have attended professional conferences to gain from other communities’ experiences, and that Louisville is now being recognized nationally for our work in creating an integrated community.

The JCL has a new Governance Committee chaired by Karen Abrams, and a new organizational structure. Programming and marketing staff offices have been consolidated into the JCC building to better coordinate communication, build on the strengths of the community and infuse Jewish content into all the community does.

Financially, Silberman reported, the JCL received a clean audit, has renamed its endowment the “Jewish Foundation of Louisville,” and has volunteer oversight of all endowment funds. Membership is growing, and improvements to the facility are in keeping with that growth.

Silberman closed his remarks by saying that “the strength of the JCL is due to the strength of our volunteers, and there’s always more to do.” In order to continue building on the vision and the mission of the JCL, he encouraged all members to find ways to volunteer.

Presentation of Awards

The JCL Annual Meeting is also a time to recognize outstanding leaders with awards. This year, the Lewis W. Cole Memorial Young Leadership Award was presented to Ariel Kronenberg, the Joseph J. Kaplan Young Leadership Award to Seth and Heather Gladstein, and the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award to Bryan Matthews.

For BBYO leadership, the Ellen Faye Garmon Award went to Rachel Bass; the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award to Sophie Reskin, the Stuart Pressma Leadership Development Awards to Rachel Klein, Ben Humphrey and Andrew Segal; and the Joseph Fink Award and Scholarship to Andrew Segal.

The Arthur S. Kling Award went to Julie Hollander (see story, page 11), the Ron and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award to Harry Geller and the Elsie P. Judah Award to Margot Kling. The Blanche B. Ottenheimer Award, the prestigious award presented annually to an individual who has made a real difference in Louisville and beyond through his/her commitment to tikkun olam, the repair of the world, was presented to Mervin Aubespin. His story was printed in the May 25 issue of Community and is available online here.

Most of the award recipients accepted their awards in person and expressed gratitude for the recognition.

Ariel Kronenberg made his comments via Skype, live from Israel where he and his family are celebrating their daughter, Emma’s, bat mitzvah. The YAD Chair, who has complete one year in that post and has agreed to continue for a second, expressed surprise at receiving the award. The Israeli, who now calls Louisville home, said he learned that in the U.S., the Jewish community depends on its volunteers for its programs today and to ensure a Jewish future. He called on everyone to do their part.

Mervin Aubespin’s candid storytelling captivated the audience. He regaled the audience with stories of his interactions with Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella, but pointed out that every person can make a difference for good. He summed up by saying simply, “Do your part in repairing the world.”

Shannon Benovitz and Scott Weinberg were recognized for chairing the two-year Young Leadership Development program.
2012-13 Board of Directors

The meeting ended with voting on the slate of nominees for officers and new members of the board, facilitated by Karen Abrams, chair of the Governance Committee. Stuart Goldberg, Jennifer Leibson, Tracy Raben, and Jeffery Tuvlin were elected to three-year terms. The officers of the Board, elected to one-year terms, are Board Chair David Klein; Vice Board Chairs Joseph Hertzman, David Kaplan and Jay Klempner; Secretary Karen Abrams, M.D.; and Treasurer Laurence Nibur.

Shannon Benovitz, Bruce Blue, Myrle Davis, Harry Geller, Lance Gilbert, Angeline Golden, Nathan Goldman, Douglas Gordon, David Kaplan, Helene Kramer Longton, Amy Ryan, Michael Shaikun, Leon Wahba and William Yarmuth are continuing their terms as directors on the Board. Rabbi Gaylia Rooks is the JCL Board representative from the Louisville Board of Rabbis and Cantors and Barrett Tasman is the JCL Board’s Young Leadership Development intern.

At the June 26 Board meeting, the officers and directors voted to add Amy Wisotsky to the Board.







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