In the nomination form for Neal Shapiro, a community member described Shapiro as a, “lifetime member of Agudas Achim synagogue, president of (its) brotherhood, (recipient of the) Flowers to the Living Award (and) chairman of Shevra Kadisha,” as well as an “excellent husband and father.”

For Shapiro, giving back to the community revolves around depending on and caring for one another.

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

The birth of my daughter Ali, who was born on April 10, 1990, inspired me to give back to the Jewish community. I wanted to be a role model for her adult life. Ali graduated from medical school in Dayton this past year, and will be a physician’s assistant. She currently works in the ER in Columbus and helps those in need for a living.

What inspires you to give back to the community?

Even though I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and went through 42 radiation treatments, I felt it was my duty to still continue my commitment of giving every Jew that dies a proper burial. I’ve been asked by rabbis from different synagogues to help because I was really committed.

Who are your mentors and how did they impact you?

Rabbi Joel Epstein at Congregation Torat Emet. He was my mentor and go-to guy in learning how to provide Tahara (ceremonial cleansing of the body).

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

We need to come together to make sure that our synagogues remain vibrant in this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty. It’s up to us to save our synagogues.

What’s one takeaway you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

That we have to depend on each other and that we are not in this alone. We have to learn to take care of each other.