Skip to main content

The 2021 class of 18 Difference Makers

Raised in the Cleveland suburb of University Heights, Stuart Appelbaum has always been engaged in community involvement and Jewish life. When he moved to Columbus for college at The Ohio State University, he became dedicated to cultivating and giving back to his new community.

Born into a family where giving back by supporting Jewish and secular causes happened without a second thought, Columbus resident Josh Barkan said there was no question that he was taking a similar route as a young professional.

Brought up in the New York City Jewish community by two Holocaust survivor parents, Monica Calabrese learned early on the meaning of community and the importance of giving back.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and working in Wisconsin’s early autism program, Lewis Center resident Abigail David knew she had taken the right professional path – helping young children with autism and other developmental disabilities reach their full potential i…

When Betsey Fettman Lane first moved to Central Ohio 30 years ago, she didn’t know anyone and didn’t feel connected to her community.

For New Albany resident Matthew Freedman, his charity, Fry Out Cancer, started with a Thanksgiving trip 17 years ago to his in-laws’ in Cincinnati. His father-in-law, Michael Schmerler, had just purchased a turkey fryer and Freedman helped him cook the bird.

Steven L. Heiser wants the current generation of children who live in lower-resourced neighborhoods in Columbus to have a chance to succeed and believes that it starts by providing rental support, moving families to higher-resourced neighborhoods and providing coaching to their mothers.

For John Koenigsberg, speaking about his childhood Holocaust experience still isn’t easy even as the memories of it are seared into his mind.

For Dr. Brad Kripke, connecting to Jews and connecting Jews to each other is something of a passion.

Lev Kucherski and his wife, Lidia, emigrated from Russia to the United States in 1974. Six years later, the couple opened the doors of their newly established business on East Main Street in Columbus, Lev’s Pawn Shop.

Growing up in a tiny Kansas town, David Leland credits his father Dr. Henry Leland for being the guidepost to his Jewish heritage.

When Ernie Mandell thinks about his start in philanthropy, he thinks back to his parents’ synagogue. His synagogue did not have an official building and would hold Shabbat services in the local school’s gymnasium. Mandell’s mother would help raise money for the synagogue with rummage sales a…

Eydie Ritter Garlikov was born in a German displaced persons camp in 1946 to a German mother and Czech father. With the assistance of HIAS, a Jewish American nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees, they were able to immigrate to the United States in …

It’s been a long running joke to Audrey Tuckerman that making a difference is a part of her DNA.

Paula Weinstein has always been passionate about helping others. While she has no idea how or why this drive to make a difference began, it has pushed her for decades to fight social injustices and improve the Columbus area for all who call it home.

This year’s Columbus Jewish News Civic Leadership Award honoree – the Community Response Fund of Columbus – has stood as a bulwark against the incredible challenges and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the Jewish community to survive and even thrive during this difficult time.

Latest stories

No matter where you are and no matter the obstacles you face, you can always make a difference in your community. Such was the message of the 2021 Columbus Jewish News’ 18 Difference Makers celebration Oct. 28.

Despite the ongoing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is so much good taking place around us, so much to be positive about in our community. This is due, in great part, to the people and organizations we honor in this year’s Columbus Jewish News 18 Difference Makers. These are peo…

The High Holy Days are a time of reflection and this past year has provided a lot to consider as we have faced ongoing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we have much to be thankful for, including the strength of our community.

Co-presenting sponsor

Co-presenting sponsor

Supporting sponsor

Supporting sponsor