Young Israel plans May 23 gala dinner in Forest Park 

From left: Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Dr. Monty Mazer and Rich Axelbaum

Young Israel of St. Louis will honor the congregation’s professional and lay leaders “for their steadfast service to the shul and community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” at an in-person gala dinner May 23 at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

After consultation with the shul’s Covid Advisory Committee, Young Israel leaders decided to hold this year’s annual dinner at an outdoor venue, adhering to city, county and CDC guidelines for outdoor gatherings. 

Young Israel will honor four individuals this year. The shul will present the Keter Shem Tov Award to Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Rich Axelbaum, Ph.D., and Dr. Monty Mazer, who all serve on the synagogue’s Covid Advisory Committee. Sam Zitin will receive the congregation’s Young Leadership Award. 

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“Leading a community through a pandemic is a challenge no rabbinic training can prepare one for,” said Shulman, the spiritual leader of Young Israel. “You have to learn to balance individual needs, community safety and public policy, and do so with sensitivity, heart and a keen understanding of the science of it.” 

Shulman credited the congregation’s pandemic advisory committee, which included scientists, doctors, gabbaim and shul leaders, for guiding Young Israel during the past year, including shutting the shul down last March, to the phased reopening. 

“They made themselves available, sometimes on a moment’s notice,” he said. “They helped guide us all to better understand the unique circumstances we faced and take the steps we needed to take together in order to keep everybody safe.  A number of other medical professionals from the community outside of the shul also made themselves available to us both as consultants and resources for others, and we are grateful to them all.”

Shulman said  his co-honorees, Mazer and Axelbaum, “were indispensable in helping so many families in the community understand and navigate through the challenges we faced.”

“When we needed guidance on how to reopen, the building needs, air flow, effectivity of mask wearing, the science of particles and social distancing, and all matters related to the physics of this pandemic, we were privileged to have within our midst one of the world’s foremost experts in this area, Dr. Axelbaum, who was always available to us,” Shulman said. “On the medical side, Dr. Mazer has been my right hand through every consultation with every family, helping us all better understand this virus, guide us through contact tracing, formulate screening processes, and serving as a medical resource both to me and to the families in the community.  I am honored to stand with both of them as together we thank the community for this honor.”

Young Israel of St. Louis President Jonty Felsher said the congregation is “thrilled” to once again hold an in-person annual dinner. 

This year’s Gala Dinner Chairs are Tamar Shulman and Elissa Schachter; Tribute Journal Chairs are Roberta Gornish and Judy Haber. For more information about the gala, contact the shul office by phone at 314-727-1880 or by email at [email protected]