2019 class of 18 Difference Makers

When we launched the Columbus Jewish News over a year ago, we knew there was a high demand for news through which Central Ohio Jews could see themselves and their interests reflected. We also knew there were numerous individuals in the community working to improve the quality of life for those around them.

To that end, we’ve reported on a number of major successes – new leaders established at several community institutions, improving security at local synagogues and agencies, and a wealth of programming contributing to the vibrancy of local Jewish life.

Even in the face of remarkable and unthinkable hardships – most prominently, deadly attacks on Jewish communities in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif. – responses near and far offered encouragement.

So, when we analyzed the nominations for the CJN’s inaugural class of 18 Difference Makers, we knew we would learn about some fantastic and timely change-making spearheaded by community members. But we were truly impressed by the scope of local individuals giving their time, energy and unique expertise to causes benefiting the Jewish community.

Thinking about those chosen as Difference Makers, one word that comes to mind is diversity. The honorees represent a variety of Jewish denominations, backgrounds, ages and professions. Their manners in which they exemplify tikkun olam are equally varied. This class includes an immigration attorney working, both professionally and in her free time, to help refugees survive and thrive in Central Ohio; a volunteer who aids Jewish war veterans; a 20-year-old woman who makes teddy bears to bring joy to the elderly; and two longtime Jewish institutional leaders who retired from their positions just months ago after decades of service.

A theme that will emerge as you read the honoree profiles is that change-making is as much a result of sheer hard work as it is personal passion for a cause.

The late Joyce Garver Keller, recipient of the inaugural CJN Legacy Award, was known for her ability to get things done during her 25-year tenure at Ohio Jewish Communities. Her success wasn’t luck or even just an interest in making the world a better place – it involved focusing intense effort toward innovative solutions and asking difficult questions of public figures. Jewish communities across Ohio are the beneficiaries.

Making a difference also comes from channeling one’s unique skill set to make an impact where it matters. Jackie L. Jacobs, the recipient of the inaugural CJN Lifetime Achievement Award, used his fundraising talents during his decades-long stint leading the Columbus Jewish Foundation to benefit a wide range of local Jewish institutions – the impact of which is immeasurable.

Among such contributions, Jacobs and Keller both reassured and supported us when the CJN was only an idea, advocating for the need and demand for a thriving Jewish newspaper in Central Ohio. Keller sadly passed away more than two years before the newspaper printed its first issue. Jacobs, along with Joel Marcovitch, Jay Schottenstein, Mike Broidy, numerous other community leaders and, of course, our readers continue to support our efforts, which will only grow in the future. We are committed to that.

As such, formally recognizing each member of the inaugural class of the CJN’s 18 Difference Makers for making a difference long before our newspaper started, and continuing to contribute, is incredibly important to us. And doing so seems like a perfect introduction to the next year, which is sure to be defined by yet more acts of tikkun olam.

Wishing you and your family a sweet new year. L’Shana Tova!

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…