Jews in the news: July 2018

David Roberts, a St. Louis resident who spent 11 years as chairman of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College before stepping down last year, was honored by the school in Wyncote, Pa.,  at its graduation ceremony in June. Roberts, a member of Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community, received the Keter Shem Tov: The Crown of a Good Name award for “distinction in scholarship or community service in the [pursuit] of Reconstructionist ideals,” according to a news release.  Above, Roberts (right) is pictured with Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism,  and Seth Rosen, chair of the movement’s Board of Governors.To honor Roberts, the Reconstructionist movement also commissioned an original melody to accompany a blessing that was recited at the graduation. To hear the musical composition,  visit  To read the Jewish Light’s 2017 profile story of Roberts, visit

Susan Block, a partner at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal; David Capes, of counsel atCapes Sokol; Terry Crouppen, founding partner at Brown & Crouppen; and Charlie Weiss, partner at Bryan Cave, were among 25 lawyers honored with a Missouri Lawyers Weekly inaugural ICON Award. This award was presented to lawyers age 60 and older in recognition of their notable and sustained success and leadership both within and beyond the field of law.

United States Arbitration & Mediation president  Robert Litz and managing director Michael Geigerman  have been nominated to become Fellows of the American Bar Foundation (ABF). ABF is a global honorary society of lawyers, judges, law faculty and legal scholars who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the legal profession and service to society. Litz is president of Congregation Temple Israel. Geigerman attends Congregation Shaare Emeth.

The following teens have been elected president of their  Jewish youth groups:  

Madeline Morse, Congregation B’nai Amoona’s United Synagogue Youth (USY), daughter of Sherri Recoon and Howard Morse. Madeline attends Marquette High School.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Noa Hahn and Yael Portman, co-presidents of Kol Rinah’s USY. Noa, daughter of Abby and Eran Hahn, attends Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Yael is the daughter of Molly and Alan Portman and attends University City High School.  

Jessica Goedeke, United Hebrew’s North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), daughter of Jennifer and Tom Goedeke. She attends Parkway West High School. 

Danielle Platke, Shaare Emeth’s NFTY, daughter of Helene and Joel Platke. She goes to Parkway North High School.

Josh Thomeczek, Temple Israel’s NFTY, son of JoAnne Levy and Jim Thomeczek. He attends Ladue Horton Watkins High School.

Tali Gorodetsky is B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) Council N’siah, and Grayson Sosnoff is Council Gadol. Tali, daughter of Olga and Yury Gorodetsky, attends Marquette High School. Grayson is the son of Beth and JT Sosnoff and attends Parkway Central High School and Shaare Emeth.

Allie Chervitz, daughter of Marianne and Steve Chervitz, is the founder and president of a new BBYO girl’s chapter, Sababa. She attends Shaare Emeth and Parkway Central High School.

NFTY’s Missouri Valley Region recently elected it new officers. Julian Albright, son of Danna and William Albright and a student at University City High School, was elected membership vice president for a second year. Lauren Bayne, daughter of Suzi and Alan Bayne and a student at Marquette High School, is the new social action vice president. Julian and Lauren are members of Shaare Emeth. Blair Dubinsky, daughter of Karen Dubinsky and Ken and Amy Dubinsky, was elected special project co-ordinator. She attends Parkway Central High School and United Hebrew. 

Jeff Fox and Mark Wrighton will serve as co-chairs of this year’s United Way of Greater St. Louis community campaign. Fox, chairman and CEO of Harbour Group, attends Temple Israel. Wrighton is chancellor at Washington University. 

Barry Simon, president of Simon Homes, was inducted into the home building industry’s Hall of Fame. He received the Excellence of Achievement Award from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (HBA). The award is given to members who have more than 15 years of service to the HBA, the industry and the community. Simon is a member of Shaare Emeth. 

David Roberts, chair emeritus of Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement, received the Keter Shem Tov, the Crown of a Good Name Award, at the graduation ceremony of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College on June 10. The award recognizes distinction in scholarship or community service in the pursuit of Reconstructionist ideals. Roberts is a founding member of Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community.  

Larry Levin, the former publisher/CEO of the Jewish Light, has started an online news site called STL Nonprofit News ( The site aims to serve and strengthen the St. Louis region by building knowledge, awareness and conversation among professionals, lay leaders, philanthropists and community members about the metro area’s diverse nonprofit landscape. Levin attends Central Reform Congregation. 

Rabbi Betsy Forester (née Brown), formerly of St. Louis, was recently ordained through the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. She has joined the Klei Kodesh at Beth Israel Center in Madison, Wis. Previously, Forester was the director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Northbrook, Ill. 

Samantha (Sami) Friedman, daughter of Robyn and David Friedman of Wildwood and a 2018 Elon University graduate, will soon relocate to Scotland as a Fulbright scholar. She will be studying, conducting research and earning her master’s degree at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, home to the National Centre for Autism Studies. Friedman’s research focuses on the effects of outdoor learning environments on children with autism. Her long-term goals include opening a behavioral therapy center that uses outdoor spaces for therapeutic purposes. The Friedmans are members of United Hebrew. 

Susan Fadem and her daughter Kimmie Fadem are among the winners in the National Federation of Press Women Communications contest. Susan took first place in the category of Religious Publications, for two stories she wrote for the Jewish Light. The first was on the “Joyous Marriage to Confound the Oddsmakers,”  of Stephanie Schechter and Duron Witherspoon; and the other on “Hands-On Art for the Bride,” about the ritual henna ceremony for Sarah Beth Waxman at Congregation B’nai Amoona, prior to her marriage to Gavriel Matt. Kimmie took second prize nationwide in the category of Social Media Campaign for Nonprofit, Government or Educational agency, for “Chamber Music Northwest: The Becky Anderson Story.” Kimmie lives in Portland, Ore.

Longtime educator Bryan Pearlman has founded Most Valuable Professional Development LLC in Creve Coeur. Training is led by a team of educators and mental health professionals who are focused on providing tools, strategies and techniques to improve outcomes for students, teachers and schools.

Lily Hauptman is one of 15 high school students honored by the St. Louis Press Club and the St. Louis Journalism Foundation. She received the Press Club’s Missouri Journalism Educators High School Student Journalist of the Year along with $1,000. A graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Lily will be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall. She is the daughter of Debra and Paul Hauptman and attends Traditional Congregation.

Richard Jackoway is the new communications manager at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. He will be the contact for JBuzz items in addition to all incoming and outgoing Federation communication.

Sue Greenberg (champion for the arts) and Noémi and Michael Neidorff (excellence in philanthropy) will be honored at the 2019 St. Louis Arts Awards, sponsored by the Arts and Education Council. Greenberg is a longtime legal advocate for artists. She is the executive director of the St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, company manager at the Muny and teaches legal issues in the arts at Webster University. The Neidorffs have supported the St. Louis arts and cultural community for more than three decades. Nationally, Michael Neidorff serves as chairman of the board of the National Urban League and is treasurer on the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The awards celebration will be held at the Chase Park Plaza on Jan. 21.

Jeff Lefton has been named chief operating officer of Psychological Associates, a consulting company that applies behavioral science to business performance. His responsibilities include working closely with the company’s operations team to streamline processes and improve efficiencies for its clients and staff.