Meet five of the Light’s 2019 Unsung Heroes

Reva Mae Davis

Reva Mae Davis

Since 2007, Reva Mae Davis has played an integral role in advancing social and economic justice for all women, children and families. She is on the steering committee of the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis’ Back to School! Store and chairs the Family Resource Room, where she interacts with parents, guardians and children, sharing valuable information, books and gifts to enrich their lives. 

A retired schoolteacher, Davis, 85, has a passion for helping others, especially families and children. She lends a hand at numerous other NCJW-STL programs as well, including Project Renewal, which empowers underserved women to gain new skills and build confidence to take control of their lives and achieve their goals. She also is a co-chair for the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, president of Ladue Educator Association of Retired Personnel, and coaches the Road Scholars at Ladue Middle School, where she teaches these students the necessary tools to succeed in the Science Olympiad program.


 

B’nai Amoona Welcome the Shabbat Volunteer Team

The weekly Delmar Gardens West “Welcome the Shabbat” program is made up of 13 volunteers who rotate in pairs each week, leading Friday evening services at the nursing home. The team has no rabbis or cantors, but they handle the 45-minute service like old pros.

Ron Heller began the program 23 years ago. His father had been a resident, and Heller noticed that Delmar Gardens West had a significant Jewish resident population.

The next step was getting volunteers to run the service. That proved to be easy because they quickly understood the need. Also, Heller didn’t give anyone a chance to say no.

The current program coordinator is Laurie Cohen, a B’nai Amoona volunteer, congregant and staff member whose father was also a resident at the facility. Cohen attends the weekly service and handles volunteer scheduling.

ADVERTISEMENT


 

Brothers Lazaroff

While musicians Jeff Lazaroff, 45, and his brother, David Lazaroff, 40, embrace their Jewish background and support the St. Louis Jewish community by often playing gratis at fundraisers, they are just as likely to be heard performing in support of many secular worthy causes. The Brothers Lazaroff have played benefits for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, One Life-One World (prison outreach, mental illness advocacy and addiction), immigrant legal services and more. 

“They are generous with their time, their talent, their vision,” said Rabbi James Stone Goodman, a frequent Brothers Lazaroff collaborator.

Every December for the past eight years, Goodman and the Lazaroffs have taken the stage for a holiday extravaganza known as Hanukkah Hullabaloo. Last year, the event sold out the Grandel Theatre, and proceeds benefited the Metro Theatre Company.


 

Alice Ludmer

Alice Ludmer, 69, has volunteered with the Adult Day Center at the Jewish Community Center for 16 years; the last 10 she has been the chair of its adult services committee. The committee helps raise money and awareness about the J’s older adult services, including the Adult Day Center, NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) and Kitchen J, which supplies kosher meals to the J’s clients as well as kosher home-delivery meals. The committee also helps to advise the J’s IN program, which serves young adults, 18 and older, who are on the autism spectrum, have Down syndrome and/or other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In addition to the Adult Day Center, Ludmer also has volunteered at organizations such as St. Louis Crisis Nursery, National Council of Jewish Women, J Associates, Hillel, Hadassah, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Congregation Shaare Emeth. 


 

Dr. Terry Weiss

Dr. Terry Weiss, 74, a retired rheumatologist, co-founded the Civic Arts Company in 2015, a nonprofit that uses the arts and education to tackle social injustice. The effort is just one example of how Weiss looks for new, hopefully more effective ways to better the lives of marginalized people in St. Louis. 

Through Civic Arts, Weiss staged the play “Race,” an adaptation of Studs Terkel’s bestselling book of the same name that explored how people in America view race. In order to bring “Race” to audiences, Weiss not only had to form an organization, which became Civic Arts, but also raise money, and recruit board members, and hire a director and actors, among other details. Then he had to find an audience. He wanted to perform the play for students, but finding schools that were willing to host it was difficult, he said.

Still, Weiss has managed to persuade several area high schools to host the play as well as the Missouri History Museum, BJC Healthcare and Webster University. 

In addition to his theater work, Weiss has a leader of Temple Israel’s efforts to help students, teachers and parents at Monroe Elementary, a St. Louis public school where all students live below the poverty line.


Read the Heroes’ full stories in our May Oy! Unsung Heroes magazine and join the Light in saluting the 2019 Unsung Heroes during a special 10th anniversary event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at 560 Music Building, 560 Trinity Ave., in University City. Complimenary valet parking is available.

Join us to honor our 2019 Heroes, along with many of the 100 Heroes from the past decade. The cost is $35 and includes a bountiful kosher buffet reception. RSVP at stljewishlight.com/unsungrsvp or call 314-743-3660 no later than Friday, May 17.