A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

Unsung Heroes

Beth Saltzman

From ticket taker to knish baker, volunteer has done it all

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

When Beth Saltzman was 12 years old, she got her first volunteer experience, helping out at Congregation B’nai Amoona. She remembers going to the synagogue on Trinity Avenue in University City. “We’d put out the kiddush cups and pour the grape...

Nancy Wasserman Giannasi

Nancy Wasserman Giannasi won’t slow down, and that goes for her dog, too

BY MEGAN RUBENSTEIN, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

When many people think of retirement, they think of slowing down. Not Nancy Wasserman Giannasi. After 34 years as an occupational therapist in the Special School District, she wasn’t ready to stop making a difference. In the past two years, Giannasi,...

Alan Kirby

German language high school teacher, St. Louis teens forge ties through Judaism

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

Every spring, Alan Kirby’s classroom at Seckman High School in Jefferson County, Mo. shifts gears from its regular curriculum for one day. Kirby teaches German at the school, which is located about 30 miles south of St. Louis. During this special session,...

Sue Picus

‘Tzedakah’ has long been key for Sue Picus

Jeffry Greenberg, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

Working jigsaw puzzles is a rare means of relaxation for Sue Picus. The volunteer work regimen she has so happily embraced has also been a piecemeal activity. But Picus has taken the latter to a far more grandiose scale. The long-time registered clinical...

Dr. Bruce Frank and Enid Weisberg-Frank

Bruce Frank and Enid Weisberg-Frank’s volunteer lifestyle follows a multigenerational tradition

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

On a trip to Seattle some years ago, Dr. Bruce Frank and Enid Weisberg-Frank encountered a man begging for food. They offered to help and took him to a nearby restaurant. Their new acquaintance had difficulty ordering a meal. “It took us a minute to...

In slaying her own mental health dragons, Helene Meyer found a way to help others too

In slaying her own mental health dragons, Helene Meyer found a way to help others too

ELLEN FUTTERMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEFPublished December 7, 2023

Reflecting on her younger years isn’t always easy for 79-year-old Helene Meyer, especially when she compares them to now. Today, she feels fulfilled. Productive. In the moment.  As artistic director of Slaying Dragons, a nonprofit whose mission is...

Amy Kuo Hammerman

Amy Kuo Hammerman: A tenacious advocate for women works to repair the world

BILL MOTCHAN, Special to the Jewish LightPublished December 7, 2023

As an idealistic teenager, Amy Kuo Hammerman thought about a career as a lobbyist after seeing the movie “The American President.” Annette Bening played a glamorous lobbyist, Sydney Ellen Wade, who was also the love interest of Michael Douglas, the...

Travel agent’s life takes flight on acts of chesed

Travel agent’s life takes flight on acts of chesed

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished December 6, 2023

Murray Bresler is the kind of guy who will help people he’s never met. They could be people in St. Louis, in another city or halfway around the world. He’s also the kind of guy who finds a way to help a nonprofit organization facing a challenging...

Local teacher’s humanity, creativity sparked by sixth-graders Nazi salute

Local teacher’s humanity, creativity sparked by sixth-graders’ Nazi salute

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content OfficerPublished December 6, 2023

It was just an average March morning at Dorris Intermediate School in Collinsville. Elizabeth “Betty” Baumgartner’s sixth-graders were filing back into her room after music class when she saw a boy make a gesture that she had never seen a student...

Thriving yeshiva in Chesterfield is just what this doctor ordered

Thriving yeshiva in Chesterfield is just what this doctor ordered

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished January 11, 2023

It wasn’t long ago that the St. Louis Jewish educational community faced a crossroads. The lack of a beis midrash — a post-high school yeshiva to provide advanced Torah study —meant some families were moving out of the area and others chose not...

Michele Friedman Siler. Photo by Bill Motchan

Meet volunteer Michele Siler, ‘the human being we all strive to be’

PATRICIA CORRIGAN, Special To The Jewish LightPublished January 10, 2023

Michele Friedman Siler describes herself as “unsung” by nature, a person who “hides from cameras, ditches photo opps and doesn’t look for publicity.” The idea of being honored by the Jewish Light as an uppercase Unsung Hero just doesn’t sound...

Olivia Adams.Photo by Bill Motchan.

Olivia Adams shines a light for women in dark times

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish LightPublished January 8, 2023

It’s easy to pick Olivia Adams out of a crowd. She’s perpetually smiling. Adams is an upbeat, optimistic person who shares her positivity with everyone she meets. That includes many women and their families who have fallen on hard times. Adams is...

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