[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
When young adults step forward to take leadership roles in the Jewish community, they are not only contributing to the success of the community today, they are acquiring the skills they need and making a commitment to the future of our community.
This year, the Jewish Community of Louisville presented four emerging leaders at its June 24 Annual Meeting: Ariel Kronenberg received the Lewis W. Cole Memorial Young Leadership Award, Seth and Heather Gladstein received the Joseph J. Kaplan Young Leadership Award, and Bryan Mathews received the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award.
Ariel Kronenberg, Lewis W. Cole Memorial Young Leadership Award
This year, Ariel Kronenberg has served the JCL as chair of the 2012 Federation Campaign’s Young Adult Division (YAD), and he has committed to continue his work for the 2013 Campaign.
“I have a good committee,” he said, “and I’m trying to get more people involved in planning events” and helping with the Campaign.
“One of the main things we’re trying to do within the division,” he explained, “is to get the new generation to understand what this organization is and what the JCL is doing for the community. This is very important to me.”
To help achieve this goal, YAD is planning a combination social/educational event that Kronenberg is calling a “Town Hall Meeting.” The event, scheduled for July 19 at the home of Michael and Beth Salamon, will include a wine and cheese party with plenty of time to socialize; but it will also include veteran community leaders.
“The new generation will have the opportunity to meet them, ask questions and raise concerns,” he said. He hopes the event will correct misconceptions people have about the community and inspire them to become more involved.
“I was very surprised to receive the Cole Award,” Kronenberg said. “I definitely was not expecting it. I’m very touched, honored and humbled to receive the award.
“Like I said when I accepted the chairmanship, I was planning to get back to being involved and doing what I can to help the community,” he continued. “It’s a nice recognition, but it’s not the reason I’m doing it. I just want to contribute as much as I can to the community and to set an example for the younger generation. [We must work together] to make the community what we want it to be for us and for our children.”
The grandson of Polish immigrants, Kronenberg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and, when he was 9, moved to Israel to follow his parents’ dreams.
“When the economic situation in Argentina in the late ’70’s got really bad,” Kronenberg said, “that was the breaking point when they made the final decision to make aliyah.”
In 1980, Kronenberg’s family moved to an acculturation center in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. “Most of my mother’s family was already living in Israel,” he said. Later, they bought an apartment in Rishon L’tzion.
Kronenberg did not follow the pattern of most Israeli youths. He postponed his military service for two years so he could study mechanical engineering. “Then I went to the Army and served 5-1/2 years in the intelligence corps.”
“During my last year of service, I decided mechanical engineering was not interesting enough,” he explained, “so I took courses in marketing and advertising.”
In 1997, Kronenberg got a job with the Israeli Ministry of Defense in New York, and at the same time, earned an M.B.A. in computer information systems.
In New York, he met Lior Yaron, who offered a position with the option of staying in New York or coming to Louisville.
Kronenberg and his wife, Faina, chose Louisville, and came to the city in 2004. They quickly became community volunteers, helping out with Super Sunday telethons and participating in Young Adult Division events and events at Congregation Adath Jeshurun.
In 2007, they chaired Louisville’s Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Memorial Day/Israel’s 59th Independence Day) event, and they have agreed to co-chair this year’s Yom HaAtzmaut activities marking Israel’s 65th Independence day. “Last time, there was an amazing turnout and a fun day. Hopefully, we can replicate it,” he said; adding, “We will need a lot of help.”
The Kronenbergs also completed the Jewish Community Federation’s Young Leadership Development program.
The Kronenbergs met in Israel and return every year. In June, the family returned to Israel “to celebrate Emma’s bat mitzvah the Israeli way.”
Ariel Kronenberg also served three years on the Jewish Family & Career Services Board. They are members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun.
They have two children, Emma and Gabby.
Seth and Heather Gladstein, Joseph J. Kaplan Young Leadership Award
Seth Gladstein is a Louisville native and Heather is originally from Great Neck, NY.
They were acquaintances when they attended the University of Michigan, but began dating after a chance meeting in New York City in 2000. They married in 2004 and relocated to Louisville in 2005, where they immediately became active in the Jewish community.
The Gladsteins are volunteers in the JCL’s Young Adult Division of the annual Federation Campaign. Heather and Seth co-chaired YAD’s Main Event in 2011 and 2012. In 2010, they also co-chaired the YAD social event at The Pointe.
Seth has been a member of the YAD cabinet for the past two years, is a member of the Ben Gurion Society, and has served on the Jewish Family & Career Services/Jewish Community Center Republic Bank Golf Challenge’s planning committee from 2006-2008.
The Gladsteins have been members of The Temple since 2005, and hosted a Temple Young Adult event at their home in 2010. Together, they enjoy taking advantage of the family programing offered through their synagogue and the JCL.
Seth has served on the Standard Country Club’s board of directors for almost two years.
The Gladsteins were surprised and honored to learn that they had won this year’s Kaplan Award. Seth stated, “Community activities are what bring people together.”
“It is important that the JCL continues its programming, so that we can ensure a strong Jewish community for generations to come,” Heather added, “We very much enjoy participating in the Louisville Jewish community, and to be honored for leading some events is really lovely.”
Heather grew up in a predominantly Jewish community on Long Island. When asked why she volunteers for the JCL, she replied, “I’m trying to replicate that same sense of community for my children. I want my two boys to have a Jewish upbringing, and have friends with whom they can celebrate holidays.”
“Another reason that I volunteer for the JCL,” she continued, “is to ensure that there is the funding necessary to create a sustained legacy.”
“I don’t view it as volunteering,” Seth added, “it’s doing the right thing. Being Jewish in a community like Louisville is unlike being Jewish in a city like Chicago or New York. To keep a sense of Jewish identity, you need to invest both your time and effort.”
Seth is an attorney who focuses his practice on medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and other serious injury cases. Before opening his own practice, Seth worked as a medical malpractice defense attorney in both New York City and Louisville for almost 10 years.
Seth earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan and graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is a member of the American, Kentucky, Louisville, New York State, and New York City Bar Associations, the American Association for Justice, the Kentucky Justice Association, and the Louis D. Brandeis Inn of Court.
In 2011, the Louisville Bar Association selected Seth to participate in its Leadership Academy. Additionally, in 2007 and 2008, he chaired the Louisville Bar Association charity golf outing’s planning committee.
As a teen, Seth was active in Pi Tau Pi AZA. His parents are Dr. Mark and Rolla Gladstein of Louisville.
Heather was active in NFTY, with whom she traveled to Israel as a teen. Her parents are Lawrence and Julie Adelman of Boca Raton, FL.
Heather double majored in music and economics at the University of Michigan. She owns her own business, serving as a personal assistant and consultant to world-renowned opera singers, including several Grammy Award winners and recording artists who perform in some of the world’s biggest opera houses.
Heather organizes their finances, press, marketing and travel. She describes herself as a “problem solver and psychologist.” While this is a full-time job, it is flexible enough for her to have the time she needs for their two young sons.
The Gladsteins’ oldest son, Levi, 4, will be entering his third year at the Temple Trager ECEC this fall, and is currently in his second year at the JCC summer camp. Their youngest son, Judah, turns one at the end of June.
Bryan Mathews, Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award
Bryan Mathews has a passion for community service, so in 2010, when the opportunity arose for him to join the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), his uncle, former JCRC Chair David Kaplan, encouraged him to do so. It was a natural fit. “The JCRC has a wide net in public service,” he said, “and members work hard at articulating the position of the Jewish community.”
As leadership opportunities opened up with the JCRC, Mathews stepped up. He co-chairs the Legislative Committee with Carl Bensinger, and worked with State Sen. Denise Harper Angel. He has also met with Sen. Rand Paul to discuss the legislator’s positions on cutting funding to Israel.
He also helped the JCRC and the Louisville Chamber Music Society bring the world-renowned Jerusalem String Quartet to the city and secured a commitment for a return visit.
This year, he joined the JCRC’s Executive Committee and has participated in framing the group’s message.
In the general community, he holds the elected office of Jefferson County Judge/Executive. The youngest Judge/Executive ever elected in the state, Mathews has gained the respect and credibility of his colleagues.
He is proud that he and his 119 fellow county judges from across the state helped pass House Bill 463, prison reform legislation that saved the Louisville Metro government $15 million in prison costs and saved $40 million per year to county governments statewide. He recently ran for the 8th District Metro Council (in the Highlands), although he lost the election.
Mathews served on the Cherokee Triangle Board of Trustees and the Highlands Connections Board of Directors. He is the Art Fair food court manager for the Cherokee Triangle Association and, for two years, organized its Summer Concert Series. He has also volunteered with the Floyds Fork Environmental Association creek clean up, Adopt-a-Park and the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
Mathews was raised in Bullitt County, an area just south of Louisville, where the number of Jewish residents could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and he was the only Jewish student at Bullitt Central High School.
He began volunteering at the Louisville Zoo when he was just 12, and in high school, as a member of the Historic Preservation Club, he helped restore a historic 150-year-old cemetery that has since become a centerpiece in Shepherdsville.
He earned a degree in history from Western Kentucky University, and is currently office administrator of the Miller Wells law firm.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the Linker Award,” Mathews said. He is committed to a life of public service without thought of recognition; still, he noted, it’s nice to receive the award.
Mathews’ mother and stepfather are Lisa and Tony Ward, and he has a brother and sister, Jacob and Sarah Ward.
Phyllis Shaikun contributed to this story.