Everyday (mitzvah) heroes
When I was just a kid growing up in the Jewish community in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before I had any idea that we needed to pay dues to belong to our synagogue or the Jewish Community Center (what a shock that was to me), I knew that there were people who just made things happen; and those people were some of my heroes.
Sarah Katz played the piano for everyone, from the 4-year-olds' nursery-school class that my mom taught to the senior-adult lunch group where I had my first job.
Ed Dunietz made sure everyone knew when to get up for their honors at my shul, and I can’t remember going to minyan and not seeing him there, often leading the davenning.
Because of Sarah Katz and Ed Dunietz and countless others that I can remember from my youth - a time when budgets and fundraising campaigns didn’t occupy a fraction of my thoughts - things happened.
And while budgets and fundraising campaigns now take up significant real estate in my mind, I have remained very much aware and grateful for those mitzvah heroes -- those who, with incredible commitment and so often, little desire for the spotlight -- simply do those things that make our community, both Jewish and beyond, a better place to live.
On Sunday, January 28, we will give 14 of those community mitzvah heroes the recognition that they don’t seek but so deeply deserve. At 5 that evening on the Weinberg Jewish Senior Services Campus, we will present our first-ever
Community Mitzvah Hero Awards
to recipients chosen by 14 congregations throughout our community.
Those heroes include: Robert Bolton, Beit Chaverim Synagogue; Chanie Stone, Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk; Maggie Hausman, Chabad of Fairfield; Howie Schwartz, Chabad Lubavitch of Westport; Jay Dimand, Congregation Ahavath Achim; Amy Gershberg, Congregation Beth El Fairfield; Harry Morgenthaler, Congregation Beth El-Norwalk; Sherry Portnoy, Congregation B’nai Israel; Mara Brosler, Congregation B’nai Torah; Gail Ostrow, Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County; Irwin Schildkraut, Congregation Rodeph Sholom; Allyson Gottlieb, Temple Israel; Susan Beyman, Temple Shalom; and Marilyn Katz, The Conservative Synagogue.
Like Sarah Katz and Ed Dunietz in my hometown, each of these honorees has made and continues to make an indelible impact on our community, one that we may not always notice but should never take for granted. I’m just delighted that we’re setting aside an evening to recognize their contributions to our community, and I hope you will join us for this special occasion, which will feature a wine and cheese reception, a keynote by Rabbi David Jaffe on the topic of mitzvot, and a very special awards ceremony.