‘Unsung Heroes’ brought to ‘Light’

It’s not often that I get to scoop my associates – Jewish Light Publisher/CEO Larry Levin and my Editor Ellen Futterman. Here’s the BIG NEWS that I get to break to you. Seventeen very special people and groups selected by you will be honored in the St. Louis Jewish Light’s brand new magazine (bringing the Light’s annual magazines to four), Unsung Heroes, to be published in May. Here’s the list of Unsung Heroes, Jews and non-Jews who don’t make the headlines but do make a big impact on the Jewish community and the St. Louis region and should be recognized.

Without further fanfare let me introduce you to the Unsung Heroes:

* the Ahavas Chesed Society

* the Girls of Block Yeshiva,

* Lolle Boettcher

* Leslie Caplan

* Phillip Fox

* Sarijane M. Freiman

* Margaret Gillerman

* Dan Glazier

* James M. Lemen

* Elise Levy

* Carl Moskowitz

* Dr. Harry Offenbach

* Judy Pearlstone

* Marilyn Ratkin

* Ken Rubin

* Ben Senturia

* Dottie Pressman-Tepper

“These are people in the Jewish community who contribute to all walks of life” said Editor Ellen Futterman. “Arts, science, business, you name it …there are so many Jews and innovators in so many aspects of St. Louis life and we want to celebrate their contributions.”

Don’t fret because I have not included information about each of our Unsung Heroes. In the new spring Jewish Light magazine dedicated to them, there will be stories about these very special people and what they have done to be selected Unsung Heroes. What’s more important, you can greet and congratulate them in person on the evening of Monday, May 24 at the Jewish Community Center’s Carl and Helene Mirowitz Center, where the reception will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and the Light magazine featuring the honorees will be available. The event is being planned by Betsy Rubinstein and Jewish Light Trustee Sheri Sherman. Watch forthcoming issues of the Light for information on making reservations.

WE HAD SNEAKERS; THEY HAD GUNS “The Kids Who Fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi” is a recently published book by Tracy Sugarman that chronicles the sacrifices, tragedies and triumphs of that unprecedented moment in 1964 Freedom Summer. It will be the subject of the discussion at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6 at Central Reform Congregation 5020 Waterman Boulevard, where Sugarman will be joined by Charles McLaurin and St. Louisan Chris Hexter, who shared that experience in Mississippi.

CRC member Phillip Deutsch and Cote Brilliante Church leader Jesse Swanigan, both workers for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi in 1964, will also participate.

The event is free and open to the public.

Sugarman, an illustrator and journalist, covered the nearly 1,000 student volunteers who traveled to the Mississippi Delta to assist black citizens in the South in registering to vote. His account of Freedom Summer is significant by virtue of the insights into the lives of the youth of the civil rights movement.

McLaurin and Hexter were two of those youths and will recalling at CRC the role of the black citizens and white residents who made the summer of ’64 one of the most heroic chapters in America’s long march toward racial justice.

You will probably recall that three students, one black and two white, died in this effort while many were beaten and hundreds arrested. Churches and homes were burned to the ground by opponents of equality.

Freedom Summer, when whites united with heroic black Mississippians, resonated across our nation. The United States Congress was finally moved to pass civil rights legislation that enfranchised the millions of black Americans who had been waiting for equal rights for a century.

Blending oral history with memoir, “We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns,” draws the reader into the lives of Sugarman’s subjects, showing the passion and naivet é of the volunteers, the bravery of the civil rights leaders and the candid, sometimes troubling reactions of the black and white Delta residents. This book is illustrative of Sugarman’s unique reportorial art, in word and image, which makes it a vital record of our nation’s past. Left Banks Books will have the book available for sale at the event on Thursday, May 6.

DO YOU REMEMBER when there was a very active, involved Jewish Hospital Auxiliary? Somewhere along the line it became the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Auxiliary-Parkview chapter.

Fast-forward a couple decades.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital – Plaza chapter and its counterpart Parkview Chapter have just voted to merge – to combine the talents and energies of both groups and create a more diverse organization. This is in recognition of the diversity served by the BJC hospitals.

On Tuesday, May 4 at Westwood Country Club, the newly combined board will be installed at the Spring Installation of Officers Brunch.

The guest speaker, Dr. Joyce Saltman, Professor of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University, will speak about “Laughter: RX for Survival,” which deals with the benefits of humor in our lives.

Saltman teaches courses in special education on the enhancement of learning through humor.

Reservations at $35 per person can be made by calling Loren Ludmerer at 314-993-1811.