J Associates to honor 2012 ‘Mitzvah Stars’ on May 15

The J Associates has named its 2012 Mitzvah Stars—Pamela Dern, Mel Goldman and Jennifer Rubin. J Associates will honor the three during its 27th Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at the JCC Staenberg Family Complex, which will also welcome its board of directors. The cost is $36.  For more information, contact Kimmi Levinson at 314-442-3109 or [email protected].

Pamela Dern said she has been inspired to volunteer by her late mother-in-law, Lillian Dern, whom she affectionately calls “Bubbe.” 

While living at Covenant House and later at The Hallmark, Lillian tried to make life better for residents around her. When failing health forced Lillian into an assisted living facility, Pamela stepped in, first by visiting every day, and later moving her mother-in-law into her own home. 

Pamela has become a dedicated volunteer and advocate for the elderly, driving fellow congregants to chemotherapy treatments and making them meals each week. She has organized a group of 7th and 8th grade students to visit Parc Provence, the Alzheimer’s Care Community, on a regular basis. 

She is also part of the Caring Community at Temple Israel and has organized letter writing campaigns to home-bound or nursing home-bound temple members, so that they receive a card nearly every day.  She is also a volunteer with Ready Readers, reading to pre-schoolers, and is involved with Dream Girls, a group for breast cancer survivors to provide comfort and support to those who have also been diagnosed with the disease. Pamela credits Michael Dern, the father of her children, for empowering her to do her passion.

Mel Goldman found encouragement from his father-in-law, George Lamb, to become an active volunteer. While a member of United Hebrew, he volunteered and was President of its Brotherhood. Later, he also served as Brotherhood President at B’nai El Congregation. He was President of the Archway B’nai Brith Lodge, as well.  When Goldman and his wife, Barb, joined Central Reform Congregation, he became a regular Shabbat morning greeter, welcoming everyone as they enter for services or religious school. He currently serves on the CRC board as Vice-President of Social Responsibility and is a regular participant with the Room at the Inn program helping the homeless. Goldman and others from CRC pick up 10 homeless individuals at Room at the Inn, take them to CRC, where they are provided with dinner, entertainment and an overnight stay. Goldman volunteers overnight, and serves breakfast the following morning and then returns the guests to Room at the Inn. In addition, Goldman volunteers with CRC’s Chicken Soup Drive, providing homemade chicken soup to congregants who are ill throughout the year.  He organized a Thanksgiving Day effort to have food baskets delivered to 30 Fire and Police Departments in the St. Louis city and county areas.

Jennifer Rubin, 15, became a part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program through Parkway Central Middle School and her relationship with the Chesterfield Police Department inspired her to dedicate her mitzvah project to Backstoppers, which assists families of fallen police and firefighters. Her uncle’s Rock-A-Thon fundraiser during his college years gave Jennifer the idea to create “Rockin’ 4 Relief.” Jennifer, with help from her mother, contacted the JCC, who allowed her to set up a rocking chair at the JCC and  rock for hours, collecting money for the Backstoppers Organization. That first year, she raised $751.

Although she fulfilled her mitzvah project, she decided to continue “Rockin’ 4 Relief” and found help from Dierbergs Markets. Her second fundraiser, held at a single Dierbergs location, raised $2,028.

By the time “Rockin’ 4 Relief” was in to its third year, Jennifer had recruited 14 of her friends, rocking at seven Dierbergs locations for 10 hours. They raised $9,550. Plans are already underway for a fourth year of “Rockin’ 4 Relief” to be held in the fall of 2012.

In addition to supporting the Backstoppers Organization, Jennifer is a member of the Jewish Light’s Ohr Chadash teen page staff. She also participates in the Chesterfield Police Explorer Post, where teens are trained in aspects of police work. Two or three times per month, they ride with the officers while they are on patrol.