Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 2021 Volunteers of the Year
RecognitionTikkun olam

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 2021 Volunteers of the Year

Their stories are inspirational

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle is proud to present the Volunteers of the Year for 2021. Their stories are incredibly inspirational. We hope you enjoy reading about the wonderful work these volunteers perform in our community.

Adat Shalom
Amy Himmel embodies the essence of volunteerism with kindness, generosity, dedication and thoughtfulness. She has been an integral part of volunteer life at Adat Shalom for many years, beginning from the time her children were in our preschool. As her children grew, she became the president of the Religious School PTO and served many positions on the board of directors, culminating as president of the board for three years. As president, Amy’s counsel was instrumental in guiding the congregation through difficult times after the attack at the Tree of Life building and then through new protocols with the onset of the pandemic. When not navigating a crisis, you will often find Amy helping at synagogue events: cooking with the Mitzvah team, stuffing bags with hamantaschen, delivering prayer books and care packages to congregants, making calls to members to see how they are doing, and so much more. Amy makes it all look easy. Adat Shalom is proud and honored to recognize Amy Himmel as Volunteer of the Year.

Congregation Ahavath Achim (The Carnegie Shul)
Irwin H. Norvitch is Congregation Ahavath Achim’s Volunteer of the Year for 2021. Irwin has been a regular member of our minyanim since joining our shul some years ago. He is an active participant in our services. Since retiring in 2018 from Michaels Arts & Crafts, Irwin has been very active with West Hills Pittsburgh Meals on Wheels, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and 412 Food Rescue and all of their partners, “harvesting” food from local restaurants and grocery stores, delivering the foods to the kitchen, prepping and packaging food, mentoring and delivering daily to clients’ homes.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills
As part of the National Day of Service in January 2021, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills kicked off an item-of-the-month drive to tackle food insecurity within our community. Michele Rosenberg is leading this effort, dramatically increasing donations. Working with our partner, South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM), Michele identifies what is needed each month, coordinates communication within the congregation, and helps with delivery. Enlisting the help of her daughter, Samantha, Michele sets an example of tikkun olam within the congregation and her community. A “regular” at worship services, Michele also serves on Beth El’s Board of Trustees.

Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Congregation
Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Congregation proudly recognizes Glenn Harlow as our Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 2021 Volunteer of the Year. Glenn is incredibly active in our congregation and has spent countless hours maintaining our security at the synagogue building and also at our cemetery grounds. Glenn doesn’t know the word “no” and is always ready to lend a hand.

Beth Samuel Jewish Center
Bill Snider, board president, has been a stalwart leader of Beth Samuel Jewish Center through an extremely challenging time. When the pandemic struck, he immediately put health and safety procedures in place and procured the equipment we needed to seamlessly transition to remote, and then hybrid, operations. He attends services every Saturday, acting as our e-gabbai to operate the cameras, mics and Zoom settings. He has strengthened our financial and administrative processes, so we could thrive and grow over the last two years. He even takes care of our landscaping! He does it all, and BSJC is incredibly thankful.

Community Day School
Community Day School parent and former board member Aviva Lubowsky served three years as CDS Parent Association president. During her tenure, she guided the leadership team to strengthen our community by facilitating opportunities for family engagement and shared Jewish experiences at CDS. We are especially indebted to Aviva for making sure our staff has felt valued and appreciated and our parent community has stayed connected through these challenging pandemic years. Beyond her presidency, Aviva continues to play an active role at CDS, most notably through managing our school uniform resale shop. Aviva is the director of marketing and development at Hebrew Free Loan.

Congregation Beth Shalom
David Horvitz has had a lifetime of involvement with Congregation Beth Shalom. Besides celebrating numerous life cycle events, he has volunteered as chair of the Religious Services Committee, as member of the Board of Trustees, as vice president, as president and most recently as the “longest tenured” immediate past president. David was the visionary for the Centennial celebration and has served on the personnel, fundraising, nominating and rabbi search committees. We are so grateful for David’s amazing dedication and commitment to the Beth Shalom community. Mazel Tov to David for being Congregation Beth Shalom’s Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle Volunteer of the Year.

Friendship Circle
Elyse Eichner’s contributions to The Friendship Circle have been invaluable. She has volunteered in numerous ways: as a member of our board of directors; co-chair of our Friends All Around annual event; Walk4Friendship committee member; and FC Bakery volunteer. Her efforts have been greatly appreciated, and we thank her for her dedication to our mission and community.

Hebrew Free Loan
Tedd Wein has been a board member at Hebrew Free Loan for nearly 12 years, serving regularly on loan committees and contributing to the organization’s operation and growth.Tedd for many years also has generously donated in-kind support to HFL via his UPS store franchise. He recently was recognized by The UPS Store Corporation with its 2021 Franchise Excellence Award. Tedd is a past board member of Hillel JUC and Adat Shalom. Tedd’s dedication, ideas and generosity have enhanced Hebrew Free Loan, and we are so grateful for the time and insights he has shared.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
A graduate of the Wechsler Program, Jonathan Bernstein joined the Hillel Academy board in 2014 and quickly became the Hillel Academy board treasurer. In 2019, Jonathan became the president of Hillel Academy. He has served on multiple committees at Hillel Academy including audit, annual campaign, strategic planning, legacy, governance and budget. A director of research at Hefren-Tillotson, Jonathan for the past seven years has welcomed with a smile every opportunity to use his financial skills to help the continued long-term growth of the school.

Hillel JUC
Mike Warshafsky has given his time and dedication to The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh for over 10 years. Initially involved with Hillel JUC in 2010 as a Carnegie Mellon University graduate student, he soon volunteered to serve on the board. Most recently Mike has served as chair for the last four years. Mike is immensely passionate about connecting Jewish students to their Jewish student community on Pittsburgh college campuses. We are thankful for his enthusiasm, professionalism, expertise and leadership.

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh
As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Debbie Leuchter Stueber acutely understands the Holocaust Center’s mission to promote education. She’s ever willing to share her parents’ story with students and adults alike as a member of the Center’s Generations Speakers Bureau — oftentimes with her lovely parents, Kurt and Edith Leuchter, tuning in from their home in Florida to join her in speaking. Debbie is also a leader of the Center’s Life & Legacy and Generations Steering Committees. In the past, she has read and lit a candle at Yom HaShoah, and has been a reliable presence helping at other public events.

Jewish Assistance Fund
During unprecedented times with profound disruptions and increased need for financial assistance, Eleanor R. Siegal stepped in. As soon as the usual was disrupted early in the pandemic, Ellie dedicated more time as the Jewish Assistance Fund pivoted and safely continued to provide financial assistance. For many years Ellie has been an engaged, caring and dedicated grantor and board member. We count on her to assure that even with a small staff, we can have a big impact in the lives of members of the local Jewish community and their families by providing financial assistance every week throughout the year.

Jewish Association on Aging
Dina Bear Rabinowitz began volunteering with Mollies Meals as a “fill in” for a friend. Then she was hooked and, as soon as she retired from her position as an RN, she signed up! She is dedicated, friendly, and just what the doctor ordered. She delivers far more than kosher meals, adding a large teaspoon of love, compassion and friendship with every visit she makes. She epitomizes what volunteers at JAA bring to the table. As the need for meals increases, so too the desire to have many more just like Dina to assist with Mollie’s Meals Home Delivery Services at JAA.

Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh
Louis B. Kushner, a longstanding and valued leader within Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and community at large, is ably leading the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association in its growth and successful re-envisioning. From chairing the transition team to being key to acquisition discussions to being active on the board, Lou’s leadership has resulted in increased attention and support being given to the Association’s mission. The JCBA is strengthened by Louis Kushner’s important involvement and is grateful to him for his leadership.

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Linda Simon has a long history of hands-on volunteer service with the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, starting with the initiative that led to building the South Hills JCC and including serving as JCC board chair from 2004-2007. Linda has been very active as a JCC Center for Loving Kindness (CFLK) UPstander volunteer — serving on a CFLK advisory committee, making phone calls and providing support in COVID vaccination clinics. Most recently, she joined interfaith volunteers to cook for 15 Afghan refugee families coming to Pittsburgh. In receiving this award Linda said, “The UPstanders were so remarkable, I feel like I am representing all of them!”

Jewish Family and Community Services
Beth Erlanger has been volunteering with Dina, an older adult in the AgeWell program, for over two years. Throughout the pandemic, she shopped for her weekly, and now that it’s safer, she takes her on regular trips to Aldi and Costco. To date, Beth has had 212 appointments with Dina, 131 hours of volunteering, and 459 miles driven. Beth’s commitment and dependability have helped us achieve our goal of helping older adults like Dina continue to live independently and in their own homes.

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Cindy Goodman-Leib and Scott Leib sustain and uplift the Jewish community locally and worldwide. Both have been Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh board members and filled many other positions as Jewish Federation volunteers. Cindy chaired the Community Relations Council, co-chaired Partnership2Gether, and is the current Israel Program chair. Scott chaired the Planning & Funding Committee and co-chaired the Jewish Life and Learning Commission. Cindy was the vice president of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. Scott served on the board of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in various roles. Cindy and Scott bring their love of Judaism to all their community interests in Pittsburgh and Israel.

Jewish Healthcare Foundation
Ellen Kessler has served on the board of trustees for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation for the past six years, and over the course of that time she has been a valuable contributor and a member of JHF’s distribution committee. Ellen serves on many local boards, including as chair of the board of the Carnegie Museum of Art. Throughout 2021, she has been an active member of JHF’s Senior Residential Living Full Court Press Team, a group working to address the crisis within long-term care. The Foundation is proud to celebrate Ellen’s contributions in 2021.

Jewish Residential Services
Judy Greenwald Cohen was an exemplary role model for the JRS board as president from 2016-2019 and through her engagement with philanthropic endeavors generally. She has continued to support JRS by sharing her knowledge and contacts on a broad range of issues, and by serving as moderator for educational events. More important, Judy exemplifies the value of tikkun olam in all that she undertakes. She brings passion and commitment to her work supporting individuals with disabilities and their families in the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community. She is a tireless advocate for inclusion, continually seeking out ways for people living with disabilities to participate in the community more fully, and sharing her vast knowledge of resources with their families.

National Council of Jewish Women
Elaine Beck has been a dedicated volunteer at NCJW for over six years. This summer, she led and fulfilled NCJW’s commitment to the community and our donors by successfully implementing Kids’ Community Closets. This dynamic project involves purchasing and distributing new clothing to young children through partner organizations, agencies and schools. Elaine tackled this role with skill and grace in the midst of a pandemic and staffing transition. Elaine also took initiative to organize and clean our facility’s storage spaces prior to staff returning for in-person work. Her experience, can-do attitude and decisive disposition made the work straightforward and enjoyable.

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle
Evan H. Stein loves the Chronicle and will do — and has done — almost anything for it. Evan recently stepped up to serve as treasurer and a member of our executive committee. Beyond that, Evan has volunteered to help with so many initiatives at the Chronicle — helping to maintain and modernize our technology infrastructure, working on our annual survey and our new poll of the week feature, assisting with our website and even helping with fundraising. Evan is a technology entrepreneur at FSA Consulting/Green Light Wireless and lives with his wife and two children in Pittsburgh. Thank you, Evan!

Repair the World
Charlie Baron is an herbalist and is so thoughtful in her approach to gardening. She has shared her knowledge with us at Repair the World Pittsburgh, while supporting the Sheridan Avenue Orchard and Garden. Showing up continuously to volunteer, lead and recruit other volunteers, Charlie has been a joyous community member to work with. Charlie has supported the entire seed cycle: from seed starting in our grow room, watering and maintaining the seedlings throughout winter and early spring, to transplanting them outside, tending the plants, harvesting and distributing produce to East End Cooperative Ministry. Thank you Charlie!

Rodef Shalom Congregation
Since joining Rodef Shalom in 2017, Carol, Salem, and Rachel Leaman have been instrumental to several of our congregation’s volunteer organizations and initiatives. Within the past year, Salem Leaman founded, and Carol and Rachel Leaman have worked with, COSA (Community Outreach and Social Action), which collected cold-weather coats for the Braddock Free Store and sponsored a toy drive at Homewood’s Church of the Holy Cross, Episcopal. In addition, Carol directed “Soup from the Heart,” a program sponsored by Women of Rodef Shalom. The Leaman family was recognized for their invaluable volunteer efforts at Rodef Shalom’s annual meeting in June of 2021.

Temple Emanuel of South Hills
Temple Emanuel of South Hills is excited to honor Debra Madaras as our Volunteer of the Year. Deb devotes countless hours to Temple’s garden — submitting and receiving grants for supplies, constructing raised beds, perfecting the soil and planting, harvesting and delivering hundreds of pounds of produce for the SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement) community food pantry. This year Deb harvested fresh figs from Temple’s trees and made fig jam for our use in caring packages and appreciation gifts. Deb is also an active volunteer with Temple’s Caring Community and participates in our Sunday morning weekly minyan.

Temple Ohav Shalom
Bob Gibbs is the steadying force at Temple Ohav Shalom. Bob speaks softly but his comments are always well thought out and respectful. When Bob speaks, everyone listens. Bob has been a longtime board member, including as president from 2014 to 2016, and treasurer from 2011 to 2014 and 2020 to the present. Bob was an easy choice as Volunteer of the Year.

Temple Sinai
The entire Collura family embodies the engagement, support and warmth that represent the best of Temple Sinai. Elizabeth, an officer of our board, currently chairs the Cantor Search Committee and has arranged for this year’s guest cantors. She participates in Cooking for Caring and bakes for onegs. Mike chairs our Neshama Center and has graciously lent his technical expertise to support various synagogue needs. As part of our Torah Project committee, he co-chaired the Penny Project and encouraged us to engage in Random Acts of Torah. Elizabeth, Mike, and their children, Rachel and Adam, greet worshippers almost every Friday night.

Tree of Life
Rose Gerson and Ellen Sikov lead the congregation’s “Gifted Items Review Committee,” which is tasked with documenting the hundreds of pieces of art, shawls, quilts, books, origami paper cranes and other objects received following the Oct. 27, 2018 attack. Rose and Ellen guide the committee through a process of determining how the items could be shared, displayed and preserved with sensitivity, acceptance and the understanding that the impact of the attack went far beyond Pittsburgh and that the items are expressions of love and support. Their leadership and commitment provides a warm, welcoming and safe space for individuals to process their trauma and work on healing.

Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh
We’re delighted to nominate Chaya Cowen as our Volunteer of the Year. An alum of our school, she’s returned as a parent and volunteer, enriching our school community. Chaya is extremely active; she served as a class mother and has helped run the teacher appreciation committee for many years. She led one of our dinner committees, spending much of her summer planning the evening and ensuring it looked beautiful. No matter the ask, Chaya is generous with her time, her creativity and her good cheer. We are proud and grateful to have her in our school community!

Young Judaea
Barbara Baumann grew up in Young Judaea, attending Camp Young Judaea Midwest, Tel Yehudah and YJ summer & Year Course in Israel. Barbara began volunteering during graduate school at Pitt by driving teens and helping at programs. Once Barbara’s own children got involved, she became a parent volunteer to sustain our local programs. Over the past 15 years Barbara has been instrumental in fundraising and organizing, thus sustaining our local activities and enabling YJ to hire a youth advisor. Barbara actively recruits for our camps and Israel programs. Thanks to Barbara’s dedication, commitment, passion, leadership and friendship, Pittsburgh Young Judaea continues to thrive.

Jeffrey L. Pollock is a longtime ZOA member who has been deeply involved on the board and in committees for many years. Jeff recently completed his third two-year term as president of ZOA: Pittsburgh. During that time ZOA conducted numerous programs which Jeff helped to manage. In addition to his insight and organizational talents, ZOA took advantage of Jeff’s professional acumen and writing skills. Jeff was the recipient of the 2012’s ZOA Ivan and Natalie Novick Community Service Award, an annual honor that is given to a person who best exemplifies the spirit of the Jewish community and leadership to humanitarian causes. PJC

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