Unsung Heroes


Joe Shlabotnik isn’t a household name. He won no awards, isn’t in any hall of fame, and is probably remembered by only a few aficionados…of a comic strip.

Yes, Joe was the idol of the one, the only Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame. For some inexplicable reason, Shlabotnik, a supposed minor-league baseball player, represented Charlie’s highest sports aspirations (which given his baseball abilities, was probably a stretch even at that).

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There are Shlabotniks all over the world, and most of them are invisible to most of us. They go about their lives, fulfilling their passions, helping others, wholly unaware or caring about whether they are recognized for their achievements.

Nowhere is the world teeming with quiet heroes more than in our own Jewish community. Standing beside those we’ve honored for major achievements and extraordinary commitments are the ones who have quietly shared their selfless gifts and love with those around them.

The Block Yeshiva girls, on the cover of our renamed and now quarterly OY! Magazine, are the epitome of selfless community work. From organizing food drives to buying Hanukkah gifts for children with cancer and other illnesses to sending packages to Jewish soldiers for Rosh Hashanah, these girls have helped hundreds of people throughout the St. Louis area and beyond. And while doing all of this and more, they’ve managed to keep up with their studies, their family and friends and (gasp!) find time for their own interests and hobbies.

All our Unsung Heroes are like this. Some help individuals, some the Jewish or greater St. Louis community. It can be anything from handholding to professional assistance to advocacy, it’s all the same – putting others before themselves, putting the “we” before the “I”.

There are so many Unsung Heroes that we could fill the pages of magazines like this one for 50 years and never run out of names. Indeed, we had many more suggested Heroes than we could fit in the pages of a single publication.

Our ability to utilize the pages and website of the Jewish Light to recognize our honorees, and to host a reception for them on May 24 at the exceptional new Arts and Education Building of the Jewish Community Center, is the very least we can do. It’s really our way of giving back to them what they so richly deserve – the profound thanks of the community.

There are myriad Joe Shlabotniks out there, many of them Jewish. We hope that as you turn the pages of our magazine, you will come to appreciate the light they’ve shined upon those around them, without asking for anything in return. They are our Unsung Heroes and hopefully, they will be yours as well.

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Larry Levin, Publisher/CEO