American Jewish Committee to honor Raskas family with Netzach Award

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

A St. Louis area family renowned for its involvement in the Jewish community is this year’s winner of AJC’s Netzach Award.

Native St. Louisans Heschel and Adinah Raskas along with their children and grandchildren will be honored by AJC at an upcoming luncheon Sunday, Nov. 4 with the award, which recognizes a Jewish family that has embodied a commitment to service and leadership.

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“It’s not awarded to one individual but to the entire family,” said Nancy Lisker, regional director of AJC-St. Louis. “In the case of the Raskas family you have a family that embodies superbly and exemplifies the spirit underlying the Netzach Award of a multigenerational commitment to building Jewish life.”

A former president of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Heschel is also a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and treasurer of Jewish Federations of North America. The Raskases are active at Young Israel where Heschel has previously served as president. He has also held that role at Block Yeshiva High School and had involvement as an officer with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Adinah Raskas has served as co-president of Young Israel Womens’ Division, chair of the Brodsky Community Library and a trustee of the Federation board. Both she and her husband have been active at H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy where she has served as president.

Their five children, Jonathan, Daniel, Aviva, Ruth and Mordechai are also being honored along with their families. Aviva serves on the Federation Caring for Jews in Need – Domestic Committee and Ruth chairs the Federation Committee on Ensuring the Jewish Future and is a recipient of the Grosberg Young Leadership Award.

“I don’t think there is just one aspect of the family that stands out,” said Lisker. “Families that are recipients of this award are usually multifaceted in their commitment and approach and they are contributing to their communities in different ways.”

Last year’s honorees, the Rubin family will be chairing this year’s event. Jane Tzinberg Rubin, who worked with Adinah Raskas co-chairing the Jewish Professional Women’s Campaign, said the Raskases are the perfect family for the honor.

“They so typify the qualities of the Netzach Award in that it is multiple generations of family members all committed to Jewish causes in our community and worldwide and their contributions are diverse through a broad cross-section of organizations,” she said.

Ken Rubin, who worked with Heschel Raskas at the Jewish Federation, agreed.

“This award for the family is very well deserved,” he said.

The Raskases, University City residents who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, said they are honored to be this year’s recipients.

“In order to have a vibrant Jewish community, you have to participate in it and you as a family have to be responsible for the Jewish community,” said Adinah. “It’s a good thing to show that families do continue their heritage.”

She said she’s particularly proud of the family tradition of involvement with education, especially at Epstein where a number of Raskases have served as president.

“Not only have both of us graduated the school, our five children have graduated the school and this year, my fourth grandchild will graduate the school,” she said.

Heschel lauded AJC’s work on international affairs. 

“We’re particularly pleased that AJC, nationally and internationally is being so active in bringing attention to the threat from Iran with respect to nuclear weapons,” he said, “a subject that is of great concern to us and we applaud AJC’s efforts in that regard.”

He said his family is pleased to be recognized.

“We’re very honored that our family is receiving the Netzach Award because we believe continuing Jewish life from generation to generation is the most important responsibility each of us has,” Heschel said.

The Nov. 4 event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton at noon. Call 314-721-8866 for more information.