Jewish Student Union plans ‘bar mitzvah’ gala

Yale and Gail Miller

Jewish Student Union will celebrate its 13th year of working to connect St. Louis teens with their Jewish heritage and Israel during a “Bar Mitzvah” celebration at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at Meadowbrook Country Club.

The event will honor Yale and Gail Miller and Bill Solomon, and will recognize Rick Schmidt, Rachel Deutsch, Dr. Ellen Duncan, Nancy James, Aura Kavadlo and Limor Shacham, faculty advisors of the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School JSU Club. 

Yale Miller said he has been inspired by his father, the late Hy C. Miller.  

“My father dedicated his life to the development of organizations such as the Young Israel of Detroit, the Young Israel of St. Louis and the H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy in St. Louis, all with the goal of creating teens who are passionate about their Jewish identity and have a strong love for Israel and the Jewish people,” he said.  

The Millers have been active in the community for more than 50 years. Yale Miller has served on numerous boards, including the Jewish Federation, Jewish Center for Aged, Vaad Hoeir, Young Israel, Epstein Hebrew Academy and Chesed Shel Emeth Society. On a national level, he has served on the board of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America and as the Vice President of the National Council of Synagogue Youth.

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Gail Miller has served as co-President of Bikur Cholim Visitors Network and AMIT, and volunteered for Ahavas Chesed Burial Society. Gail has taught at Central Agency for Jewish Education for more than 14 years and received the Nancy Elbaum Makovsky Outstanding Teacher Award.

“The Millers’ vision, wisdom and resources were the three central pillars in the creation of JSU of St. Louis,” said Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, JSU founder and director. The Millers are “constantly looking for ways to increase the impact of JSU on the teens of St. Louis. Whether in regards to fundraising or program development, the Millers are always challenging us to do more,” Rovinsky said. “They are an inspiration and example of how each of us can work to impact the lives of our teens and thus better our Jewish community and the Jewish people.” 

Bill Solomon worked for 24 years at Anheuser-Busch before retiring in 1992 with a significant portfolio of company stock. With the encouragement of his friend Barbara Bianco, Solomon worked to make a significant impact on the community. 

“My wife, Karen, was my motivation in my philanthropic efforts.” said Solomon. After Karen passed away, Solomon dedicated himself to supporting Jewish educational and social service institutions through the Karen Solomon Philanthropic Fund, which he established in her memory. 

Solomon has been honored for his service by numerous organizations including the Salvation Army, Washington University, Kid’s Place, the Planned Giving Council in 2012, Chabad, JF&CS, the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry, the Federation’s Jewish Community Fund and Kol Rinah.

“Bill is a walking embodiment of Maimonides description of the ideal philanthropist as one who give generously, without fanfare and most importantly with a generous heart and a smile,” said Rovinsky. “Truly the qualities of an extraordinary man.”

Tickets are $125. For more information about the JSU gala or to RSVP, call 314-696-0578, email [email protected] or visit jsustl.org/gala. Rovinsky said this will be the first kosher event at Meadowbrook in more than 30 years.