Jews in the News: January 2015

Compiled by Elise Krug

Linda Spitzer Gavatin was recently installed as co-president of the St. Louis Chapter of Hadassah. She is a third-generation president, following in the footsteps of her grandmother and mother. Her family has been active in Hadassah for six generations. Gavatin is a member of both Congregation Bnai Amoona and Kol Rinah.

Marilyn and Marty Levison and Bob and Colleen Millstone will be honored April 26 at the “Celebrate Broadway, A Salute to Mirowitz” gala. The Levisons, members of Traditional Congregation, will be honored with the Community Service Award. The Millstones, Central Reform Congregation members, will receive the Meyer and Marcelle Kranzberg Visionary Award. The gala will be held at the Ritz-Carlton. 

At the 2014 annual dinner of the Provident social-services agency, Shelli Kastin was awarded the inaugural Jackie Kaiser Award for her dedication as a volunteer.Jackie Kaiser, who passed away two years ago, founded the Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support groups almost 30 years ago. SOS groups assist those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Kastin has been a facilitator of these groups for the past nine years. Professionally, she is head of publishing production services at Washington University Libraries.

FormerSt. Louisan Stephen Neuman, director of public affairs to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, has accepted the job of chief of staff to Rhode Island’s Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo. Neuman was scheduled to start his new position Jan. 6.

Richard Harris, founder and past president of National Commercial Exchange (NCE), has received the Legends of Barter Award from the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA) at the organization’s 35th annual convention in Cancun, Mexico.  The Legends of Barter Award recognizes modern trade and barter industry individuals who have served and helped to shape and define the industry. Harris launched NCE in 1980 and grew it into one of the most respected barter companies in the country.  In 2011, he sold the company to International Monetary Systems (IMS),  expanding membership to more than 16,000 in 53 markets.  Before retiring earlier this year, Harris served as head of corporate development at IMS.

 Gail Appleson, communications editor at Armstrong Teasdale, has been chosen to serve a six-year term on the Missouri Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee for the 21st Judicial Circuit (St. Louis County). The Missouri Bar Board of Governors selected Appleson as a non-lawyer member of the committee, which reviews judges who are seeking retention on the bench under the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. A member of Bais Abraham Congregation, Appleson writes a weekly wine column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and is a frequent contributor to the Jewish Light. She is also a board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.

Dr. Gary A. Ratkin spoke on palliative care issues as a panelist at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 2014 Missouri Cancer Policy Breakfast on Dec. 9 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ratkin is chairman of the Palliative Care Committee at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. He is a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth and a trustee of the Jewish Light.

Evyn Levy has been selected to play clarinet in the Missouri All-State Band. More than  1,200 students auditioned, and only 108 were accepted into this elite ensemble. Evyn is a freshman at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. She is the daughter of Joelyn and Ed Levy of Creve Coeur and is a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth.

French-horn player Jonas Mondschein has been accepted into the Missouri All-State Orchestra for a second year. Jonas is the son of Tracy and Steve Mondschein of Creve Coeur and a sophomore at Whitfield School. Jonas is also in his second year with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

Siblings Leah and Jess Rothberg have earned the highest awards offered by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, respectively. A University of Missouri sophomore and an engagement intern with Hillel, Leah found inspiration for her Gold Award project after visiting Rainbow Village and noticing the lack of vegetation in the residences’ yards. Leah set out to add beauty and function to the space, spending 80 hours planning and implementing her project. She built a picnic table and planted trees, bushes and flowers. Fewer than 1 percent of Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. Jess, a junior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, received his Eagle Scout Award this past summer. His project involved clearing an area behind the Temple Israel parking lot to build a fire ring and benches, benefitting his troop and the Temple. Leah and Jess are the children of Dana and Jim Rothberg of Ladue and are members of Congregation B’nai Amoona and Congregation Temple Israel.

Ladue Horton Watkins High School senior Michael Wielansky is the district’s first soccer player to be voted to the All-State First Team, All Metro. This is the highest honor in high school sports. He was also recognized as Ladue’s Offensive Player of the Year and the all-time goal leader in a season. Michael is the son of Linda and Steve Wielansky of Ladue, who are affiliated with Congregation Temple Israel. Michael will be playing college baseball in the fall, majoring in business.  

Nancy Lieberman, GO! St. Louis president and founder, was ranked second in the world for the 2014 70.3 Half Ironman competitions in her age group, 65 to 69 years old. An industry leader, world-class athlete and major proponent of health and fitness, Lieberman plans to participate in the 2015 GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend on April 11 and 12. This marks the first time she has participated as a runner. In celebration of the organization’s 15th anniversary, Lieberman plans to raise $15,000 for GO! youth running programs, which annually serve more than 12,000 students in the bistate metropolitan area.

Joseph B. Pereles, immediate past president of Congregation Shaare Emeth, recently joined the Central Region Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Pereles is the vice president of development and general counsel at Drury Hotels.

Local author Debbie Manber Kupfer recently released “Argentum,” the second volume in her  P.A.W.S. saga. The story is about Miri, a young Jewish girl who receives a silver cat charm from her grandmother the day before she dies. The charm holds Miri’s family’s secret, one that will take her on a mysterious and supernatural journey with her friends, members of an underground St. Louis society called the Partnership for Animagi, Werewolves and Shapershifters, better know as P.A.W.S. Kupfer is a member of Congregation United Hebrew.

The Greenberg Gallery has moved back to Clayton from the Central West End, its location since 1978 (it was started in 1972 in Clayton). Owner Ronald Greenberg renovated a space at 230 S. Bemiston Avenue. His gallery shows the works of contemporary masters and emerging artists.

A compilation of local Jews’ newsworthy professional and academic accomplishments. Submit your news to Elise Krug: [email protected]. Call 314-743-3671 for more information. Published the first edition of each month.  For sponsorship opportunities, contact Julie Schack: [email protected] or 314-743-3677.