AJC to honor Kalishmans

BY LOIS CAPLAN

THE KALISHMANS are without question the quintessential poster family. When they were selected by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) St. Louis Region to receive the 2010 Netzach Award there had to be no contest, as this family starting with Matriarch Nancy and continuing through her daughter and three sons (and their spouses, too) are committed to serving the community, each in his or her own way.  On Monday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Louis Club the community is invited to attend the presentation of the Netzach award to the Kalishman family. The event is chaired by Rabbi Jeffrey and Arlene Stiffman who received the award last year.  For reservations call Director Nancy Lisker at 314-721-8866 or email her at [email protected]

Now that the business part is out of the way, let me tell you about the Kalishmans. Their 2 ½ page single spaced bios are filled with their activities and interests and are twice the length of this column.  So here is the tip of the iceberg.  Meet Nancy and the kids – Susan and Paul Goldberg, John and Diane Kalishman and Jim and Amy Kalishman.  A third son, Tom, who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyo. where he is involved in the community, will be here to cheer on his illustrious mother and siblings.  I can’t write about the family without mentioning the late Jerry Kalishman, attorney, businessman and wonderful volunteer, who, with Nancy, passed along the importance of being involved citizens in both the Jewish and general communities.

Nancy Kalishman has served as president or board member of the Scholarship Foundation, Temple Israel Sisterhood, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, National Council of Jewish Women, Beyond Housing and the local Girl Scout Council.  A Wellesley graduate and former teacher, Nancy’s passion has always been to support educational efforts in the Gateway City, so it is not unusual to find her reading to underserved children in the Meacham Park neighborhood as part of the Ready Readers program.

The apple, they say, falls close to the tree and in the case of Susan Goldberg there is no doubt that the old saw is true.  Susan, a self described “professional volunteer,” is board president for Ready Readers. Her various commitments include the Scholarship Foundation, Magic House, Jewish Federation, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation. Like mother, like daughter, Susan serves as leader for both her daughters’ Brownie troops and as the president-elect of their school’s parents’ association.

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Sons John and Jim Kalishman and their wives, Diane and Amy, are almost as involved in the community as their sister and her husband Paul. Whether it be the St. Louis Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Federation, Congregation Shaare Emeth or Ladue Early Childhood Center you are sure to find a Kalishman on the board of directors. “We try to be selective in how we spend our time. It is important that we pick organizations or causes where we feel we can make a real impact,” John said.  Added Jim: “Whether it is serving on a board or contributing to the day-to-day operation of an organization, we want to help.  That is a value that all of us have learned from our parents and one day we look forward to passing along to future generations.”

One quick word about the Netzach Award. The values of family, God, Justice, education and good deeds have been the Netzach (life blood) of the Jewish people. AJC established it in 1991 to honor those families in our Jewish community who have continued this tradition from generation to generation.

“IN RECOGNITION OF YOUR SACRIFICE AND SERVICE Greater St. Louis Honor Flight, Inc. humbly pays due respect and deepest gratitude to Wilbur Bender” reads the document awarded to him after a grueling 18-hour day.  It all started with an invitation to Bender, generally known as “Babe,” to join a Greater St. Louis Honors Flight to Washington, D.C. for a day of sightseeing and honors for World War II veterans. Bender, one of 30 vets, some on walkers and others in wheel chairs, boarded the Southwest Airlines plane, each accompanied by a “guardian” for the all-expense paid experience of their lives.

“Babe,” who truly looks like the baby of the group, told me that he was a Sgt. T-4 with the 42nd Rainbow Division of the 7th Army when he was mustered out in 1946 after having served in France, Germany and Austria.  

He also told me that WW II veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day and that the remaining old soldiers were being honored for their service to their country. Wined and dined, their private bus took them to the WW II memorial built in 2004 on the Tidal Basin between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, to Arlington Cemetery to see the changing of the guard and the Kennedy gravesites.

Their flight departed from St. Louis on July 27 at 4 a.m. and returned to a wildly cheering crowd at 8:30 p.m.  I asked Babe if he was exhausted beyond belief, and he said “No way.  It was a thrilling and exciting day for all of us. It was so well planned including an empty wheel chair that had been meant for a vet who died right before the trip left.”

The Greater St. Louis Honor Flight was a fitting tribute to the aging warriors who fought for our liberty.