[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Nathan Spielberg is an exceptional person. A BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization) leader in Louisville and in the KIO Region (Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio), he’s always thinking about ways to get more teens involved in BBYO. He’s also a leader at his school, participating in tikkun olam activities like collecting supplies for Tamale, Ghana, one of Louisville’s Sister Cities.
Now, Nathan will have the opportunity to spend three weeks in Israel this summer because he has been named the recipient of the 2010 Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship.
Nathan will participate in BBYO’s International Leadership Seminar in Israel (ILSI). “It’s going to be one of the best three-week periods of my life,” he said, “and I want to thank the Cantor family for giving me this opportunity to go to Israel. It’s something I really look forward to. It will be a highlight of my summer.”
ILSI participation is limited to 100 people, and participants come from across the U.S. and some other countries. While Spielberg will be traveling with some friends from the region, including Sarah Ensign and Hayley Grossman from Louisville, there will also be many people he hasn’t met before.
“A lot of the people who are going have the same kinds of leadership experiences I do,” he explained. “A lot are Regional Board members, and there will be some International Board members, as well.”
While in Israel, Nathan is looking forward to learning about and embracing Israel, but since he is traveling with other BBYO leaders, he also said, “I think it’s really important to share our leadership experiences and discuss how the regions and chapters differ to learn what works and what doesn’t work in order to try to help the Jewish community and to help BBYO.”
One of the things he is looking forward to during his time in Israel is visiting The Wall. “The Wall was the site of the Temple,” he said, “and everyone goes to The Wall to pray. It’s something you need to see at least once in your lifetime.”
Nathan’s also looking forward to being part of a Jewish majority. Since everybody’s Jewish there,” he observed, “it’s not something you have to worry about. There’s comfort being around people who are like you.”
“The Cantor Scholarship made it much easier for me to go” on this trip, he continued, and he again expressed his gratitude. “I really appreciate what the Cantor family has done, giving people the opportunity to see and experience Israel.”
Nathan previously has been recognized for his leadership in BBYO. He was the 2009 Ellen Faye Garmon Award winner, had already served his chapter, Drew Corson AZA) as s’gan or programming vice president, and the next fall served as godol, president.
“The Garmon Award helped me go to CLTC, the Chapter Leadership Training Conference in Wisconsin,” he said, “and that inspired me to run for Regional Board for KIO.”
In December, Nathan was elected regional shaliach, vice president of community service and Judaism. “That’s a big part of why I want to go to Israel,” he added. Being in charge of all the Judaic programming for the region, it will be of benefit for me so I can plan better Israel-based programs.”
Nathan hasn’t waited for his Israel trip to begin planning regional programs. He coordinated programming for a recent regional Kallah Convention with the theme, “Survivor.” He arranged for a Holocaust survivor and a Darfur speaker to address the group. Darfur, he explained, is part of KIO’s Stand Up Campaign.
Each BBYO region or chapter selected a cause “to stand up for what they believe in. Our regional cause is Darfur,” he explained, “so we had a speaker present on Darfur,” addressing the genocide and other problems there.”
This weekend, there is also a Regional Beau Dance that the chapters are using to further their cause. “It’s a dance marathon, Nathan explained. “People get other people to sponsor them for a minimum of $75.” Half of the proceeds go to the regional Darfur project. Each city’s BBYO program then decides where the other half will go.
Nathan is a rising senior at Kentucky Country Day. When he graduates, he wants to go into some aspect of science, but he hasn’t chosen a specific field nor settled on a school he’d like to attend.
He is president of KCD’s Ghana Club and last summer, he visited the African nation. “It was really an eye-opening experience to see the living conditions there,” he said. “it’s like a different world, and it makes you appreciate what you have much more.”
Seeing the hardship in Tamale motivated Nathan to become president of the Ghana Club. Now, the group is trying to gather enough goods and supplies to send to Ghana to fill an entire shipping container. The group is collecting a wide variety of things, “ranging from school supplies to medical supplies and athletic supplies.” Nathan is also “trying to organize a way to log all the items that are being sent in a computer program” that will enable him to track everything.
He also plays guitar in a band, and is a luthier, making guitars by hand.
He and his family are members of The Temple.
His parents are Gregg and Linda Spielberg, and he has a younger brother, Jacob.
Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship Fund, administered by the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Foundation for Planned Giving, provides an annual scholarship to a high school junior or senior from the greater Louisville area to help defray the cost of the trip and enable that individual to participate in an approved month-long educational opportunity in Israel.
The fund was originally established by Milton Cantor in 1997 in memory of his wife, Ellen. When he passed away in 2002, the fund was named in memory of them both.
If this kind of program is important to you, you can learn more about it, or you can ensure its future by contributing to Ellen and Milton Cantor Fund online by clicking here; sending a check to the fund at the Foundation for Planned Giving, 3630 Dutchmans Lane, Louisville, KY 40205; or calling the JCLs Executive Director of Philanthropy Alan Engel at 451-8840