Service, Education and the Soul: The Synagogue Council Honors Community Leaders

Thu, 04/18/2013 - 11:37am -- Synagogue Counc...

By Jan Moidel Schwartz

The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts (SCM) is a pluralistic organization that brings Jews together across the spectrum of Judaism for learning, dialogue and collaborative action.  The only organization of its kind in all of North America, the SCM provides services to 200 congregations and minyanim in Massachusetts, working beyond the typical silos of synagogue, denominational and organizational lines to strengthen our Jewish community.

For more than 30 years, Executive Director Alan Teperow and his diverse and devoted board and staff members have sought to create a place for mutual understanding that resonates respect for all those engaged in Jewish life in Massachusetts.  To this atmosphere of discovery and curiosity comes a wide range of participants who seek to broaden their perspectives, participating in activities and programs that touch their intellect and heart.

On June 11th, the SCM will honor three extraordinary leaders whose passions and professions mirror the mission of the SCM. These individuals - State Treasurer Steve Grossman and his wife, Tufts Professor Barbara Wallace Grossman, and LimmudBoston Founder Steffi Aronson Karp - have agreed to be celebrated in this way because they believe that the Synagogue Council upholds their highest ideals and beliefs.

For Steve Grossman, public service is a calling he learned as a young boy from his father and grandfather.  An immigrant with a three part dream - starting his own business, educating his family, and supporting his community - Steve's grandfather instilled in his family the true essence of what it means to be a Mensch, a good person.  Steve honors his father often by quoting the prophet Isaiah to explain why his own years in business were matched by active participation in the social fabric of our city, state, and Jewish institutions.

Barbara Wallace Grossman is, above all, an educator.  She has much to be proud of in this, her role of a lifetime: the consummate teacher, devoted to her department and her profession.  As a professor of drama, she instills in her students the desire to give the best of themselves and they know she cares about their success.  She understands and has a tremendous sense of responsibility to give back to academia, for she has broken a lot of barriers in her career - first female chair of her department at Tufts University is a special one.  Barbara strives to make a difference for members of our society who have been forgotten or marginalized.  Her leadership in Holocaust remembrance and advocacy for GLBT rights and respect are well documented.  Together, Steve and Barbara Grossman are bookends to a family story that traverses the generations, as they watch their three grown sons take on these mantels of enterprise and public service.

Steffi Aronson Karp, the product of Jewish youth groups, calls herself a lifelong learner, and her persistence in engaging the evolving realm of Jewish learning has made her a trailblazer.  Involved in congregational life over many decades, she is one of the founders of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek.  Then, she discovered a way to engage everyone in her love of all things Jewish and, three years ago, foundedLimmudBoston, a one day extravaganza of arts, texts, music, food, family activities and fun that broadens the definition of community.  Close to 1,000 people shared the day last year of soul searching and soothing Jewish traditions.  Steffi, together with her husband, Eric, an attorney, and their three sons, personifies what it means to devote one's life to service.

Plan to join the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts and its friends and supporters as we celebrate these dynamic visionaries on Tuesday, June 11, at  6pm, at Temple Emanuel in Newton.  A festive dinner and music by Kol B'Seder and Temple Emanuel's Shabbat Alive musicians and singers will enhance the celebration.

For more information click here.