18 Difference Makers 2021

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.

So many things seem different from this time last year as we welcomed in the Jewish new year. Like many of us, I’m disappointed with how much remains the same given these challenges of the pandemic.

The light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic does appear much brighter now than it was a year ago but we know we still haven’t reached the end. Vaccinations and the Delta variant, among other factors, are creating an environment that is all too familiar to us. Many of our synagogues were not able to hold High Holy Day services in-person which is a stark reminder to us that the pandemic remains a serious health risk for so many in our community.

But, even as some things remain the same, this new year brings a sense of hope and renewal, personified, in part, by those among us who have made a profound impact on the community at large.

And one point of strength and tremendous pride is the number of people making a positive difference in the Central Ohio Jewish community and beyond. It is our pleasure to honor some of these individuals who account for the Columbus Jewish News’ 2021 class of 18 Difference Makers.

From nominations submitted by you, our readers, we selected 18 – or chai – individuals we believe are making a true difference and giving us all so much to be in awe of.

Like their peers before them in our 2019 and 2020 class of honorees, the actions of these difference makers speak to the clear act of tikkun olam, repairing the world. These acts are synonymous with that notion of the pursuit of social justice and action. The 2021 class includes business people, educators, legislators, community leaders and clergy.

This year’s class, for example, founded a local synagogue and led the Columbus Board of Rabbis, gave a voice to children with disabilities, provided support for people in various stages of recovery and homelessness and helped to build important institutions, such as JewishColumbus.

Our honorees have also served as leaders at the JCC of Greater Columbus and devoted their time to rescuing animals, established and participated in fundraisers to fight cancer, educated others about the horrors of the Holocaust and are a voice for the Jewish people in Ohio in opposing the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement and speaking out against antisemitism.

But what unites them all is not their area of expertise, but their dedication to the community, to making people’s lives better. And that is truly something worth celebrating.

The 2021 class will be featured in the Columbus Jewish News’ Oct. 28 issue as well as on columbusjewishnews.com and Facebook. It is also our pleasure, along with co-presenting sponsor, JewishColumbus and supporting sponsors Chabad Columbus and Schottenstein Stores Corp., to celebrate during an awards celebration and dessert reception at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus at 1125 College Ave. Kosher dietary laws will be observed.

Please join us for a festive evening in recognizing those who are truly making a difference in Central Ohio’s vibrant Jewish community. L’shana tova.

Kevin S. Adelstein is Publisher and CEO of the Columbus Jewish News.