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 volunteer advocacy. Chomsky said Judaism teaches him we are partners in helping God make the world a better place and simply doing is necessary. That also means future generations must be engaged and interested in such matters, and setting a good example for them is essential.

What inspires you to give back to the community?

I wouldn’t call it “giving back” – just giving. Each of us has an opportunity to figure out what we can contribute to making life better, immediately within reach or farther out. Any time you can do that, you will receive a beneficial feeling. Joy should be at the heart of everything we do – even the hard things.

Was there ever a turning point or shift that made you change how you approach community service or become active in the Jewish world?

As a child, I remember a couple of boys who I felt were being mistreated. I didn’t even know their names and don’t remember their names. But I do remember feeling it was wrong and I wanted to do something about it. I wasn’t treated nicely by some others (I was a puny kid) ... so that helped me appreciate what it feels like.

Is there any particular cause, issue or organization you are especially passionate about? What have you done to address it?

In my role as a cantor, I fought (or at least worked hard) to bring women into my profession – and succeeded. And was succeeded by a woman as president of the Cantors Assembly.

I am also a fervent believer in the two-state solution in Israel and continue to fight for it on every possible front through organizations and individual work.

How did your Jewish background inform your interest in giving back?

Again, I wouldn’t say “giving back.” My Jewish life tells me we are partners with God in making the world better. Praying is lovely. But doing is ultimately more powerful. Prayer helps us to have the necessary focus to do the work that needs to be done – either with God’s help or as God’s helpers.

Did you have any mentors? If so, what was your relationship to them and how did they impact you?

As a cantor, my mentor was Ivan Perlman, cantor of Temple Emanu-El in Providence, R.I. He was a great singer, great personality and a force of nature – an ex-Marine who was at Iwo Jima. My long partnership with Rabbi Harold Berman at Tifereth Israel taught me a great deal. And paying attention to what my wife says and thinks has really paid dividends in every part of my life.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Central Ohio Jewish community? What should be done to promote change?

Continuity – maintaining interest for the next generation. What should be done? We need to pursue what is important and what is right, not to focus just on marketing. If we are committed to meaning, people will find their way to us.

The 2019 Class of 18 Difference Makers

For Richard Barnett, a driving force has been trying to make the Jewish community more inclusive, as it relates to religious, income or other …

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 oth…

In more than 35 years working at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, Carol Folkerth ensured making a difference was part of both …

Connecting with others in the community while serving it is one factor that inspires Meri King to continue to give back. As coordinator of Pro…

Amy Klaben’s interest in promoting equality for minorities and women began as a teenager, when she realized the power and persistence of socie…

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 le…

Giving back for Cheryl Rose means finding ways to use unique personal strengths and experiences for the betterment of others. Among many servi…

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 …

After growing up in an Orthodox synagogue and becoming involved with Congregation Tifereth Israel as an adult, Jerry Sigal realized the import…

Coming to the United States from the former Soviet Union as a child refugee, Inna Simakovsky has channeled her experience into helping others …

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 wo…