Jews in the news: June, 2015

Denise Lieberman recently received the Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Hero Award at T’ruah’s annual benefit in New York. T’ruah brings together rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism, along with the greater Jewish community, to act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Lieberman is a senior attorney with Advancement Project, a national racial-justice organization based in Washington that works to advance full participation in democracy through legal action, education and strategic communications. She is regarded as a leading national expert on voting rights and civil rights. In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, she is serving as co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition in St. Louis, a community coalition calling for systemic change to racially based policing. A member of Central Reform Congregation, Lieberman is an adjunct professor of political science and law at Washington University.     

Jenny Wolkowitz is the new president of Nishmah: The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project. Nishmah, a program of the St. Louis Jewish Community Center, inspires, engages and supports Jewish women. Through inspirational programming, Nishmah brings together Jewish women and girls from different denominations that may have otherwise never met. Wolkowitz is a member of Congregation B’nai Amoona and is past president of the Jewish Light Board of Trustees.  

Karen Berry Elbert, manager of the St. Louis NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) at the Jewish Federation, has received the 2015 Harvey A. & Dorismae Hacker Friedman Award for excellence in service to older adults. The award was presented by the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University. Elbert played an instrumental role in developing a national model program to help older adults remain living independently and has directed it since its inception in 2002. She is a member of Congregation Temple Israel.  

Seth Albin was recently installed as president of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. His Albin Law in Clayton focuses on family law and bankruptcy. Albin is a member of B’nai Amoona.   

St. Louis Ballet ad

Hazzan Leon S. Lissek recently received the David Putterman Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 68th annual Cantors Assembly (CA) convention. As B’nai Amoona’s Hazzan Emeritus, Lissek was chosen for his 30 years of outstanding service to his congregation and community, his tireless efforts directed toward the future of the Cantorate through fundraising for student scholarships at the Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and his commitment to musical and pulpit artistry of the highest level. Lissek  lives  in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he is active in teaching young Cantors and on the placement committee of the CA. 

The St. Louis Forum has recognized Linda Goldstein’s community and business leadership with the 2015 Trailblazer Award. The Trailblazer Award was created to recognize a woman who has been an influential community leader, was a “first” in her field or has made significant contributions toward elevating the image of women in business. Goldstein, a member of United Hebrew Congregation, was Clayton’s first female mayor. She is president of Linda Goldstein Consulting, which specializes in public affairs and strategic communication consulting.

Marylen Mann will be one of 13 women honored at the 12th annual Salute to Women in Leadership Gala on Friday, June 19. Hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Mann is being honored for her civic leadership.  

Tracey Singer is the new president of the J Associates, a support auxiliary of the Jewish Community Center. Part of its mission is to raise money, which is allocated annually to the departments of the JCC. Singer attends B’nai Amoona.  

Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton presented Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation an honorary doctorate of humane letters during the university’s 154th commencement. Talve was honored because of her accomplishments, including being one of the nation’s most inspirational rabbis in 2014, leading her congregation in promoting inclusivity by developing ongoing relationships with African-American and Muslim congregations, and by fostering civil liberties, especially for the LGBT community.  

Rick Gans has become a director of the Monarch Fire Protection District, where he formerly served a 13-year term. A member of Congregation Shaare Emeth, Gans holds the distinction of being the longest serving director in the history of the district.  

Joshua Kazdan has been awarded one of 26 Bronfman Youth Fellowships. Outstanding high school students from diverse Jewish backgrounds are selected for an immersive five-week Israel study program and lifelong fellowship. The Fellows remain in close contact and participate in two educational seminars in New York in December and March, and in virtual seminars, focusing on the North American Jewish experience. Each Fellow pursues a ma’aseh (social action) project in which participants are paired with an alumni mentor. Josh, son of Linda and Andrew Kazdan, is a senior at John Burroughs School and attends B’nai Amoona. He plans to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math.

For the second time, Sophie Bernstein was a Distinguised Finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, which honors youth from each state for their exemplary volunteer service. Sophie is an advocate for the prevention of hunger and, since growing her own backyard garden and donating the produce to local food banks, has built and maintained four additional gardens and donated more than 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to benefit children and local food banks. Sophie is the daughter of Moira and Brad Bernstein of Clayton and a student at Clayton High School.  

Rebecca Bloom has been elected president of NIFTY: Missouri Valley Regional Board. NIFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) is the organization of the Reform Jewish youth movement. A senior at Clayton High School, Rebecca is the daughter of Patty and Jonathan Bloom and attends Temple Israel.  

Noah Hartman has been elected senior class president at Parkway North High School. He is also president of Central Reform Congregation’s NIFTY youth group, CRFTY. Noah is the son of Margie and Brad Hartman.  

Thomas J. Cohn, has earned the Chartered Adviser in Philanthropy (CAP) professional designation from the Richard D. Irwin Graduate School of  the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The CAP program provides nonprofit- and financial-services professionals with the knowledge and tools to assist clients in achieving their charitable giving objectives, while also helping them meet their estate planning and wealth management goals. Cohn is president of Thomas Cohn Associates.   

Chad Klamen has joined G. J. Grewe as a real estate broker. He is a member of United Hebrew.  

Jeffrey Sparks received the Michael N. and Barbara Newmark JCRC Emerging Leader Award at the recent Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis annual meeting. This award encourages emerging leaders to intensify their community relations experiences on both a local and national level. Sparks is a member of the JCRC board and is a partner in RubinBrown Assurance Services Group.   

Batya Abramson-Goldstein, executive director of the JCRC, and Michael Neidorff, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Centene Corp., are among the recipients of 2015 Brotherhood Sisterhood Awards of the St. Louis chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice. NCCJ honored those leaders who work to make St. Louis a community where all people are valued and respected. Abramson-Goldstein is a member of Young Israel and Neidorff attends Traditional Congregation.