The 2019 class of 18 Difference Makers

In Joyce Garver Keller’s 25 years as executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities in Columbus, stories about her extraordinary ability to get things done on behalf of Jewish needs were common.

Moving to a place where there may have been a lack of Jewish community caused Bonnie Abramowitz to further engage with Judaism, so her children would have a strong example of how to live Jewishly. Later, after moving to Central Ohio, she found her place as executive director of Temple Beth S…

For Richard Barnett, a driving force has been trying to make the Jewish community more inclusive, as it relates to religious, income or other forms of diversity. Becoming more religious has helped him personally become more engaged and he realizes the importance of having a spectrum of opini…

For Emily Cammeyer, an experience helping her great-grandmother at the end of her life led Cammeyer to find a way to make a difference for others in similar positions. After seeing the impact a stuffed bear had on her great-grandmother, Cammeyer began stuffing bears for other patients at Wex…

For Cantor Jack Chomsky, giving to the community means continually reaching farther to make life better for others. That means engaging the interfaith community and creating opportunities for women and the LGBTQ community, both via his role at Congregation Tifereth Israel and in his voluntee…

In more than 35 years working at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, Carol Folkerth ensured making a difference was part of both the organization’s and her own mission. Jewish values such as tzedek, kindness and continuing education enriched her life and inspired her to share th…

June Gutterman’s career began making change for those with disabilities, working to develop infrastructure for special education in Ohio. However, after being part of the Wexner Heritage Program’s leadership class, she shifted her work to the Jewish community. Earlier this year, Gutterman – …

For Rabbi Richard Kellner, service means using the framework within the Torah to make the world a better place. A part of that is teaching his own children and those who attend Congregation Beth Tikvah or URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute to develop a connection to their religion that also im…

Connecting with others in the community while serving it is one factor that inspires Meri King to continue to give back. As coordinator of Project ARIEL at Jewish Family Services in Columbus, King works to provide Holocaust survivors in Central Ohio with transportation, social opportunities,…

Amy Klaben’s interest in promoting equality for minorities and women began as a teenager, when she realized the power and persistence of societal injustice. She later left her work as a lawyer for the same reason – seeing a better opportunity to make a difference. Today, she is co-founder of…

For Saul Laub, it’s simple: tasks to better the community need to be completed and someone – who might as well be him – needs to do it. His leadership of Jewish War Veterans USA Capitol Post 122 in Columbus for 25 years came about after a friend recommended the group. The volunteer work keep…

Numerous factors in Rabbi Debbie Lefton’s background encouraged her to give back. However, as senior rabbi at Wexner Heritage Village, she continually goes above and beyond to secure quality programming for residents and visitors, as well as to find opportunities to engage residents and demo…

Among an array of service projects, David M. Neubauer volunteers as a Jewish inmate mentor at the North Central Correctional Center in Marion. Within that role, he aims to help Jewish inmates keep or gain a sense of Jewish identity, which otherwise may be neglected during their time in priso…

Giving back for Cheryl Rose means finding ways to use unique personal strengths and experiences for the betterment of others. Among many service experiences and leadership roles, Rose has served on the boards of Human Rights Campaign and Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State Uni…

For Pam Scheer, giving back is a way to provide a good example, while also lending a hand and engaging in personal interests. Scheer has long been involved with local theater, notably with the Gallery Players at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. There, Scheer assists in produc…

From a young age, Michael L. Schottenstein had family role models who provided examples of how to improve the local Jewish community through community service. So much so that when he moved away for college and after, he felt drawn back home – somewhere he could work to shape the community a…

After growing up in an Orthodox synagogue and becoming involved with Congregation Tifereth Israel as an adult, Jerry Sigal realized the importance of Jews of different denominations coming together to celebrate their Judaism, and each other. With that in mind, he started the Shabbat Project …

Coming to the United States from the former Soviet Union as a child refugee, Inna Simakovsky has channeled her experience into helping others facing the pressures of settling in the United States today. She said she is foremost inspired by her parents’ work ethic, relationship with and care …

Michael J. Weisz’s interest in giving back stems from the idea that the United States was built on a bedrock of religious heritage and hard work. His volunteerism has entailed decades of hard work building up Central Ohio's Jewish institutions and enabling the next generation to have a stron…

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