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

St. Louis Jewish Light

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St. Louis Jewish Light

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

Dr. Bruce Frank and Enid Weisberg-Frank

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 realize he was illiterate,” said Enid. “lt dawned on all of us that he didn’t order because he didn’t know how.”

With the help of a waiter, they figured out what the man wanted, and he enjoyed the experience immensely. The reason for the small act of kindness, Bruce said, was because it was simply the right thing to do.

“We ordered a huge sandwich and a soda for him and sat down with him,” Bruce said. “We chatted with him and there was some humanity. He was one of these invisible people—if you don’t look for them. You have to look for opportunities. Whether it’s an organization or a needy person on the street, keep your eyes open and you’ll find it—something you might miss otherwise.”

“The opportunities are always there,” Enid added. “It doesn’t take much to look for it, there’s always someone in need.”

Bruce Frank, a retired ophthalmologist, found one such opportunity during the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis’ Back To School! Store at Temple Israel. He and Enid are regular volunteers at the event.

“There was a van from the Ronald McDonald House and they had an optometrists for the kids to get their eye exams and glasses,” he said. “I poked my head inside and saw that they had two lanes so I took over running the vacant lane so they could get twice as many kids through. Then I signed up for that organization to do screenings at various schools in underserved areas. I had skills and they needed somebody to do this, so I stepped up and volunteered. When you see an opportunity to do a mitzvah, you can grab it or not.”

Bruce said some of his ophthalmologist peers travel to other countries to treat people, which he supports. He focuses on taking care of people closer to home.

“If somebody came to my office with no insurance, we treated that person the same way we did for people with insurance,” he said. “It’s a mitzvah to take care of the poor. One of the people I did cataract surgery on asked me how he could repay me and I told him that the Lions Club paid the hospital and for the surgery, I did my part for free. I said, ‘You get a bunch of your friends to join the Lions Club to help keep the organization going.’ He did and said he had a great time.”

The Franks have volunteered at Congregation B’nai Amoona in a number of roles. Bruce is a past-president of the Men’s Club, Enid is a past-president of the Sisterhood. Both Bruce and Enid chant Torah and Haftarah and Enid serves as a Megillah reader at the congregation. She has also served as education vice president on the Hadassah board and as a member of the Nishmah board. Bruce has volunteered and trained to be an instructor with the Mussar Institute. Mussar is the Jewish practice of working on one’s behavior traits to improve the world around us.

It was in Mussar class nine years ago that Enid and Bruce became friends with Myra Rosenthal, a member of United Hebrew Congregation. Rosenthal said she has always been impressed with the compassion the couple show to others.

“They have so much kindness and they are so giving,” Rosenthal said. “They are involved in many things and they have many talents. Whenever they see a need, they quietly step in. I think they exemplify all the good that is in this world.”

Bruce and Enid learned the importance of giving to people in need from their parents and grandparents.

“If my dad saw a hungry person on the street, he’d find a way to feed that person,” said Enid. “My great-grandmother always had purses with money to give to Hadassah and other women’s organizations and whenever she had spare change, she had tzedakah for each one. My grandmother would always say to us, ‘It’s almost Shabbos, put this these coins in the pishka.’”

“My grandparents had a small clothing store in a non-Jewish town,” said Bruce. “There would be people begging and my grandfather told us, ‘Nobody ever went poor giving tzedakah,’ and that always stayed in my mind, so we came by it naturally.”

While growing up, the Frank’s children saw their parents perform acts of kindness for others, and now they’ve carried on the family tradition. When the family went to a Cardinal baseball game, outside the stadium they saw people begging for food. Bruce watched as his daughter handed out nutrition bars from her own bag.

Bruce and Enid met at a Hillel graduate group party when Bruce was a med student at Washington University. Enid is a St. Louis native, Bruce is originally from Milwaukee. They were married in 1976. Enid did undergrad studies at Webster University. She earned a master’s degree in school-community psychology from SIU-Edwardsville.

“After working in the school system and Children’s Hospital, then spending some time at home raising our young family, I reinvented myself as a Jewish educator, especially for children with special needs,” she said. “I taught Sunday school at Traditional Congregation and Hebrew school at the Jewish Community Hebrew School. I worked in a program to help the kids who were having difficulty reading and needed more intense one-on-one tutoring.

“I also was the director and teacher of the Ohr Atid program for kids who had intense special needs and were not able to go to a regular Sunday school, as well as tutoring in the Kulanu program, and becoming the Director of Special Needs Jewish Education at Central Agency for Jewish Education.”

As a private teacher, Enid has had students who can’t afford to pay for her services, which just opens an opportunity for another way of giving.

“I tell them, ‘When you can, make a donation in some way to the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry—you can bring a can of food or go volunteer there. I don’t need to know when, just do it whenever you can.’ And some of my adult students have worked at the Olivette Turkey Trot and have taken their kids along. Now several of the kids are volunteering at the food pantry.”

One of Bruce Frank’s most fulfilling volunteer roles has been as a lay chaplain at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

“We visit with the patients and listen to them, give them an ear and time,” he said. “Some people are lonely and just feel better after talking. I always ended my hospital visit with a Talmudic teaching. The Talmud says when you visit a person who is ill, you take away 1/60th of their discomfort, and usually the person confirmed that I did that.”

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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.