Your Men’s Club’s Man of the Year & Youth of the Year
The Florida Region Keeper of the Flame Man of the Year Award is the highest recognition a Club can give to one of its members. It is usually given to individuals who have worked on behalf of the club or region for many years. Leadership, Innovation and Community are considered.
The Florida Region also makes available the Youth of the Year Award with a Youth Medallion awarded by each club. This award is given to a youth recommended by a club’s rabbis or school administrators.
Congrats to our 2106 Honorees! You deserve all the kavod!
- Beth Torah, North Miami Beach – Rich Berger
- Beth Torah, North Miami Beach – Alan Imar – YOY
- B’nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton- Robert Kantor
- B’nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton- Hannah Wolf – YOY
- Congregation Ohev Shalom, Maitland – Howard Kaplan
- Congregation Ohev Shalom, Maitland – Lily Brenner YOY
- Temple Beth Am, Longwood – Dr. Robert Rosenberg
- Temple Beth Am, Longwood – Lila Gaber – YOY
- Temple Beth El, West Palm Beach – Carl (Kalman) Willner
- Temple Beth El, West Palm Beach – Martin Blanca – YOY
- Temple Israel, Winter Springs – Dr. Bob Kaplan
- Temple Torat Emet, Boynton Beach – Gary Dalin
- Temple Torat Emet, Boynton Beach – Alana Rudinsky – YOY
- Temple Torat Emet, Boynton Beach – Mikayla Mathews – YOY
Their awards were presented at one of the 2016 Keeper of the Flame banquets.
- South Florida Man & Youth of the Year at Beth Torah, North Miami Beach, FL in North Miami Beach – Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 11am.
- Central Florida Man & Youth of the Year at Temple Israel in Winter Springs, FL– Sunday, November 20th, 2016 at 4pm.
Dr. Robert Rosenberg is delighted to be Congregation Beth Am Honoree for the Florida Region of FJMC Chaverim in Kol Yisroel Keeper of the Flame Man of the Year Award 2016.
Dr. Rosenberg is a Chiropractic Physician who has practiced and lives in Longwood for the past 26 years. He specializes in Spinal Health and Wellness. Dr. Bob began his career in healthcare as a paramedic where he met his wife and best friend of 39 years Sheri. They have two wonderful daughters Leia Neft ( Joel), and Miriam Daum ( Akiva) and four fantastic grandsons with number five on the way. The Rosenbergs are grateful to the Congregation Beth Am extended family, a source for spiritual growth, community and support.
Dr. Bob has been a member of CBA for over 27 years. He has served two terms as congregation president, president of the Men’s Club and over the years has held numerous positions on the Board. He currently serves as a director, and is co-chair of the 40Th Anniversary Celebration Committee with Tom Mayer. Dr. Bob leins weekly and is active in Beth Am’s Torah preservation and acquisition. Over twenty years ago, the Rosenberg and Fliegelman families donated the first permanent Torah to the congregation.
Lila Gaber, daughter of Eva and Larry z”l and sister of Felissa, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Winter Park High School. Even though much of her time is devoted to schoolwork and rowing for Winter Park Crew, she still makes time for Congregation Beth Am. She has been volunteering in Beth Am’s Sunday school program for over 6 years and also participates in many Mitzva Brigade events, including sorting food at Second Harvest, decorating the dining area at Ronald McDonald House every Mother’s Day, and participating in various Mitzva Day projects (Feeding Children Everywhere, Gliding Stars of Central Florida, and making pet blankets). Lila is also very active in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). She is currently the N’siah (president) of Waldflowers BBG and previously served 2 terms as Mazkirah (communications vice president). In addition to her chapter and regional involvement, she has participated in two of BBYO’s international summer programs – this summer’s Kallah, and the previous summer’s Chapter Leadership Training Conference (CLTC).
Mr. Carl (Kalman) Willner was born in 1923 in a shtetl called Dombrowa-Tarnowska in southern Poland. He lived there with his parents, grandparents, two brothers, a sister, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Close to 80 members of his family were murdered during the Holocaust. His beloved Zaydie, Labish Kohane, a pious Orthodox Jew, was the first victim when the Nazis invaded their town. His beard was ripped off his face by German soldiers who were laughing and enjoying themselves in the process. Carl’s grandfather died a few hours later, but at the very end he whispered to his 16-year-old grandson, “Somebody must survive to tell this story.” That statement has remained ingrained in Carl’s memory until today.
Carl survived two Ghettos, four Labor Camps and three Death Camps – Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau. Upon arrival in Auschwitz he was hit in the face with the butt of a rifle. That wound is clearly visible today, even after eight operations. His younger brother, Chiel also survived and they eventually made their way to America. Carl arrived in this country with $2 in his pocket. The brothers moved to Philadelphia and opened Hymie’s delicatessen (named after their late father), which became one of the most popular restaurants in the area. The deli employed 82 people before they sold it to a chain.
In 1976 Carl became a stock broker and worked until he and his beloved wife, Etta, retired to Florida. Carl met Etta at a wedding and he impressed her with his tango, waltz and other dances. Together they had two children, Hal (Sheila) and Shari (David). Carl is very proud of his children’s accomplishments and he adores his three grandchildren, Brian, Scott and Arloy.
Mr. Willner is very active in all aspects of Temple Beth El’s life, including our Men’s Club activities. He is a knowledgeable Jew who can quote long passages from the Torah and the Siddur. Carl began speaking about his experiences during the Holocaust after visiting the Wall in Jerusalem in 1968. He has served for many years as Vice-Chairman of the Palm Beach Holocaust Survivors organization. His life story has been published as a book — Carl’s Story: The Persistence of Hope — which he presents to every Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth El.
Our congregants enjoy hearing Carl sing Yiddish songs which he remembers from his childhood. He is one of the most beloved, sweetest members of our congregation, and he clearly deserves this honor.
Martin Blanca was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL on October 25, 2002, right after his parents and sister emigrated to the U.S. from Argentina. He started his journey in Judaism in 2004 at the West Palm Beach JCC pre-school where he began to learn about Jewish values. He has been a student at the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy in Palm Beach Gardens for the past nine years. There, he has been elected, twice, as a member of Knesset, the student body government. Over the summers, from 2010 to 2014, Martin attended Gan Israel Jewish Camp in Wellington, Florida. In 2015, he attended Camp Breakaway in Pennsylvania for one week.
Martin and his family are very involved in Temple Beth El (TBE) in West Palm Beach, Florida, from his bar-mitzvah in 2015, to participating in many TBE youth programs since then. He enjoys going to the morning minyan with his father almost every Sunday. For the last two years Martin participated in ten to twenty of TBE’s Incentive Programs each year, and was been awarded a prize each year. Martin also volunteered to read Torah many times after his bar mitzvah, and for Purim and Yom Kippur every year.
Martin visited Israel two times to see his family members who live there. Each time he went to the Kotel, he loved Judaism more and more.
Martin’s family has always shown him great values to follow. His mother, Jackie, has always helped him with any problem he had. She always refrains from speaking with lashon hara and has taught Martin do the same. His sister, Giuliana, has always helped him with his school work and projects. She is always there to give him a much-needed helping hand. His dad, Rafael, Co-President of TBE’s Men’s Club helps him when he prepares for an aliyah and to become a leader in the Jewish community. Because of their help, he has been molded to who he is today.
Martin has a great feeling towards the laws of tzedaka and helping others. Martin loves to give back to his community. He loves soccer and began to play when he was two years old. This gave him the theme for his bar mitzvah project – to help kids with disabilities have the opportunity to play soccer by donating items like soccer balls and money. His friend had recently started the program, and Martin wanted to help.
In addition to the incentive points from TBE, Martin won an award from his school for being the most caring student of the month, a scholarship from the Zoe Loren Make a Difference Foundation and has been an Honor Roll student at the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy every year..
He is so grateful to Temple Beth El’s Men’s Club for naming him their Youth of the Year!
Rich Berger has been the Ritual VP at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus since January, 2015. His philosophy is to ensure that everyone participates in and gains spiritual enhancement from attending services. In addition to his work locally, Rich has been the Speaker Liaison for each of the past 2 Men’s Club International Conventions, and was the editor of the initial series of Men’s Club Health & Retirement Newsletters. Outside of Men’s Club, Rich owns a Human Resources consulting firm specializing in Human Resources process and technology design and implementation.
Alan was born in the Chicagoland area in Illinois, where he lived until the age of 13. The Imar family held membership at Congregation B’nai Tikvah. From the very beginning, Alan was exposed to Jewish values through his education at the Moriah Early Childhood Care Center, and continued to study at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago in Northbrook, IL. Alan was then fortunate enough to attend Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for four summers, where he developed a deep sense of Jewish community and a greater understanding of the pivotal role of Jewish identity.
In 2013, Alan’s family moved to Miami, FL, and began regularly attending Friday night services at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus (BTBRC). At the inception of his high school career, Alan became involved in his local United Synagogue Youth (USY) chapter. He was selected as the Ninth Grade Representative, and became part of the class of 2018 “Young Leader” HaNegev group. At the end of Alan’s freshman year, he was appointed to the Religion and Education Regional General Board, and was elected as the Religion and Education, and Executive Vice President of the BTBRC USY chapter. Consequently, in January 2016, Alan was chosen to serve on the USY Religion and Education International General Board.
Nowadays, Alan is the President of BTBRC USY and works to facilitate engaging programs to attract new members. He also has the distinct honor to serve on the HaNegev Religion and Education Regional General Board for the second consecutive year as the Special Projects Chair where he plans initiatives to strengthen USYers’ connection to Judaism. Alan is also nearing the end of his term on the International General Board. Apart from his involvement in USY, Alan interns for StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy organization. He feels strongly that one’s Jewish identity and connection to the State of Israel often intertwine, and thus both must be strengthened.
However, without the help on his community and family, Alan could not have been so involved in USY and worked as hard as he has to achieve his goal of helping youth find their Jewish identities. He attributes much of his success to his Youth Director, mentors, family, and friends.
Robert Kantor is grateful to be B’nai Torah Congregation’s honoree for The Florida Region of FJMC’s Chaverim Kol Yisroel – Keeper of the Flame Man of the Year Award 2016.
Robb is a Senior Director of IT Projects and Infrastructure for TSIUSA, a corporate travel and technology company, and has worked professionally in the IT field for the past 26 years. He has been living in South Florida since 2000. He met his wife, Carolyn, a Director of Principal Gifts for the JTS Florida Region in 2006 and joined B’nai Torah Congregation soon after. Robb received his B.S. from University of Dayton before going on to earn his Masters in Information Security & Assurance from Kaplan University in 2011.
In 2009, Robb attended his first FJMC convention in Philadelphia that energized his involvement with the Men’s Club. He was actively encouraged and supported by two of the BTC founding member’s Dr. Elliot Burns and Les Marks to accept a leadership role. He was Men’s Club president from 2010-2012 and a Co-President from 2012-2014 with last year’s recipient of Man of the Year, David Dweck. His focus for the Men’s Club was to create a place where guys feel comfortable connecting with one another and building friendships that last a lifetime. BTC Men’s Club continues to foster a place where men feel a sense of unity, belonging, and fulfillment.
Most Shabbat mornings Robert can be found assisting the congregation as a bima usher (Shammus) and greeting congregants and guests coming to BTC. Robb had served as the synagogue usher and greeting coordinator for the past three years, four years on the Board of Trustees for B’nai Torah Congregation, the current Men’s club membership chairperson, and a previous Keruv chairperson. He is a co-founder of the BTC RoadRunners, a running group, which meets weekly and has helped to train congregants to complete marathon and half marathons over the past three years. He is an active member of the FJMC at the Florida region level as a Vice President and had been invited to attend prior year’s FJMC Leadership Development Institute.
The son of Felice and Dr. Neil Kantor, Robb has been married to Carolyn for 10 years this coming January. They are proud parents to Arin, Blayne and Mason and have four grandchildren Chaim, Shmuly, Rivkah, and Nixon.
Hannah Wolf is an enthusiastic 17 year old who is, not only, passionate about her academics but, also, possesses a deep love for the Jewish community. She was born in Margate, Florida on June 28, 1999 to Janet Kenny and Ira Wolf as a younger sister to Pamela. Since her naming at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, she has remained a lifelong member of our synagogue, who continues to become increasingly involved in our activities. She attends the Rosenblatt High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy and maintains a 5.30 weighted GPA, which will make her Valedictorian during graduation in May of 2017.
Further proof of her love for academia is shown through her course load as well as school activities outside of the classroom. She is currently taking 4 AP (Advance Placement) classes, as she did last year, and is able to manage phenomenal grades in them all. Last year, she was, also, President of the RHS National Honor Society Chapter and Treasurer of the Hebrew Honor Society within her school. Hannah’s favorite subject, taking after her father, is mathematics as she thrives on basic computational skills being applied to abstract critical thinking problems. She is currently taking AP Calculus BC and serving as RHS Math Honor Society (Mu Alpha Theta) President / aka “Captain of the Math Team.” Besides her passion for learning itself, she also loves to teach and runs her own tutoring company. With this, she tutors middle school and high school students in a wide variety of topics pertaining to math and science. She truly has a strong desire to help others understand things and appreciates both sides of the education dynamic. Additionally, she has been a Madricha at the Mirochnick Religious School for her 3rd year now where she works with a lower school class on Sundays and individually tutors students in Hebrew throughout the week.
Hannah is extremely involved in her Jewish community, locally as well as on the regional and international levels. Equipped with a wonderful foundation of Jewish education at Donna Klein since preschool, she has flourished into a Jewish leader we are all very proud of. After she was Bat-Mitzvahed here at B’nai Torah, she continued to come to Friday Night Services where she would help lead Kabbalat Shabbat for months later. From there, she went on to attend 5 summers at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia where she furthered her love for Judaism. Now in high school and active in our Youth Department’s Hebrew High School, she has found a new passion to involve herself within the Jewish community, USY (United Synagogue Youth). Joining this organization at the end of her Freshman year, she became our BRUSY (Boca Raton USY) Chapter Religion/Education and Israeli Affairs Vice President in 10th grade. For her Junior Year, she became BRUSY Chapter President, leading our chapter to win the most improved/chapter on the rise award within our Sub-Region (Arvot). This year, she serves as the Sub-Regional (Arvot) President for all of the South Florida Chapters where she holds a position on both the Regional and Sub-Regional board for USY. With this position, she oversees the chapter presidents, plans sub-regional conventions, and attends international meetings representing South Florida, along with many other things. This involvement, has additionally, allowed her to attend the AIPAC High School Summit last fall and AIPAC Policy Conference last spring. As both events were held in Washington DC she was able to lobby her congressman for a stronger American Israel Relationship. She, lastly, spent this past summer on a 4 week trip to Israel with USY and hopes to stay with this organization as a candidate for International President.
Howard was born in Miami, Florida and raised here in Central Florida by his parents Richard and Gail Kaplan with his two sisters Linda and Kim. He is the youngest of three. After his parents were divorced when he was 8 years old, he was no longer affiliated with any temple. However, the desire to serve God and his fellow man merely strengthened as a consequence.
Howard met his beautiful wife Lisa through a mutual friend and have been happily married for 21 years. They have two sons, Seth and Robert. Lisa and Howard made Congregation Ohev Shalom their home just 16 years ago after looking for a temple to raise their boys in. Since then, Howard has been deeply involved in the Men’s Club and found himself of service in other areas as well. Howard has served two terms as Co-President of the Men’s Club in addition to being an active member of the Executive Board at Ohev Shalom. He’s planning to uphold these commitments for at least another year.
From the time Seth was six years old, Howard has been earnestly involved in the Boy Scouts of America. At their first meeting, the Cubmaster asked if any adults would like to volunteer for a leadership position. Seth raised Howard’s hand and that was it. Since that day, Howard has worn many hats in service of Cub Scout Pack 641, Troop 641 and the Fort Gatlin District. Presently, he is an Assistant Scout Master, Troop Committee Chairman, and Co-Leader for University of Scouting. University of Scouting is known to be an exciting day of training for both youth and adults that reside in our district. Lisa and Robert volunteer with Howard during the day of the event as well. Next year, Howard will be the leader of University of Scouting.
Even though his health might not always allow it, Howard is always finding ways to lend a helping hand. He has suffered from Psoriatic Arthritis since he was a teenager, and has fought many battles to get where he is today. No matter what is going on inside or around him, Howard always maintains an aura that is both upbeat and energetic. He’s always looking to get things done in a quick and positive manner. Not surprisingly, his energy can light up an entire room in a heartbeat. He has a talent for bringing the best out of everyone he works with.
For over 20 years, Howard has been working in the travel industry. And now, he’s found a career with a corporate travel company – proudly managing twenty five agents. He loves his family both at home and at synagogue, and quite frankly, loves his job too. He thanks everyone for choosing him to be this year’s Man of the Year recipient!
Lily was born in Central Florida to Lori and Ed in April 1999. She has two siblings; Sam, 20 years old and Andy, 17 years old. She attends Lyman High School in Longwood and will graduate in June 2017.
She followed her brother and cousins to Camp Ramah Darom and has been going each year since the 4th grade. She learned to lead services at Ramah, read Torah at Hebrew Day School and Haftarah at Ohev Shalom. Lily continues to attend Shabbat services and read Torah and Haftarah regularly.
She was very involved in Olim and Kadima as soon as she was able to, and as a freshman and sophomore she was a member of USY. Last year she served as Religion and Education Vice President for her USY chapter and she is currently serving as the President of her chapter this year. She is a madricha at Hebrew School, assisting the teachers on Wednesday. She also participated in the youth production, the Role Model, last year and was a counselor at Machaneh Ohev last summer
In school Lily plays trumpet in marching band and french horn as well during the concert season. She and a friend founded the Jewish Student Union at their high school and is an officer of the youth division of the Rotary club, Interact. She is involved in the Young Democrats and has participated in many events and debates.
She spent the fall semester of her sophomore year in Israel, traveling and learning about Jewish history. Last summer she spent six weeks in an intensive fellowship studying at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City.
Lily has a deep love for Halakha, education, Egalitarian Judaism and for the State of Israel. Her long term goal is to help the egalitarian movement grow in Israel. After high school she plans to further this goal and continue to help people connect to Judaism and tradition. She is always around Ohev to help out and work to improve the synagogue and community.
Bob was born and raised in the town of Port Henry, in the Adirondacks of upstate New York and grew up with his brother on the family farm. He attended N.Y.U. as an undergrad, where he earned his B.A. and was accepted into medical school at the University of Brussels.
It was during his second year of medical school that Bob met his wife of 40 years, Fabienne. Bob performed his post-graduate training in Rochester, New York at the Genesee Hospital, where he completed a 3 year residency in internal medicine. He went into private practice for the next 7 years, returning to his home area, and managing an extremely busy practice. Bob and Fabienne kept a kosher home, and had 3 children – Joachim, Benjamin, and Dahlia. In 1986, the Kaplan family moved to the much warmer climate of Orlando, Florida. Within days of arriving in Orlando, the family joined Temple Israel, where they have been members continuously for the past 30 years! Bob again quickly grew a very busy practice.
Upon joining Temple Israel, Bob became involved with the Ritual Committee, and approximately 6 months later became Ritual Chair. He has continued to serve on the Ritual Committee during most of the past 30 years, including as Chair on two other occasions. He has also been a Men’s Club member throughout most of his time at Temple Israel. Most recently, for the past 5 years, Bob has served as Ba’al Shacharit during High Holiday Services, which he has found to be particularly meaningful. Bob is someone you will always find at Temple Israel services, and is a wonderful member of the Temple Israel family!
During his years in private practice, Bob served as Chief of Staff of South Seminole Hospital in the mid 1990s. Post switching to a long-term care pathway in 1998, Bob eventually became very involved with the state and national medical directors associations. Since 1998, he has served in the role of Medical Director for several long-term care nursing facilities in the central Florida area, performing both clinical and administrative duties, currently in Longwood, Ormond Beach, and South Daytona.
In 2002, Bob became Temple Israel’s Gabbai Sheni, and then assumed the position of Gabbai Rishon, which he has held for the past 10 years. In addition to being on the davener rotation over the past 30 yrs., for the past 10 years Bob has been responsible for scheduling all of the leaders for Shabbat services. He was a member of three Rabbinic search committees, and additionally has served as a Temple Israel board member on 3 different occasions, each for a two year term.
His latest accomplishments in his professional life include serving as President of the Florida Medical Directors Association (2013-2015), and being current chair of a national faculty, teaching a curriculum to Medical Directors aspiring to certification. He is also the current Vice Chairman of the American Board of Post Acute & Long-Term Care Medicine, and is scheduled to assume the Chair position next year. Locally, through the years, Bob has presented various lectures, e.g., Jewish medical ethics at the former Bet HaMidrash program, and Senior Care at the JCC.
Gary Dalin hails from St Louis, Missouri, even though people always tell him that he looks like someone they know from Long Island.After graduating pharmacy school in St Louis and obtaining a Master’s degree from Temple University, he and his wife, Debbie, decided to move to Florida. First locating to Cocoa Beach, Gary got involved immediately with the only Conservative Synagogue in the community. Even though living 2 blocks from the ocean was a novelty for this Mid-Western guy, Gary and Debbie missed the big city life. They moved to Miami and joined Temple Samu-El. Being new in the area, Gary did what most new members should do – he joined the Men’s Club. It did not take long to get Gary involved in synagogue life, especially with a young Rabbi Ed Farber helping to motivate the men to not only fundraise for the Temple but also to just have fun. During his tenure at Samu-El (later Samu-El-Or Olom), Gary became not only President of his Men’s Club but went on to become the President of the Florida Region in the early 90’s. The first FJMC convention he attended as Men’s Club President took him to the Catskills mountains and the Concord Hotel where he was able to see first-hand what everyone was talking about when they mentioned the Catskills. A highlight of his tenure as President of the Florida Region was starting the quarterly Florida Regional Newsletter called Tapuz.
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew scattered the Jewish remnants of West Kendall, including Gary and Debbie, who moved to the fastest growing zip code for Jews in South Florida: to Cooper City. After being called a Rabbi Farber groupie and following Rabbi Farber to Temple Beth Torah Adath Yeshurun, Gary wanted to attend shul closer to home and joined Temple Beth Am Israel. So to become active, what did he do – of course – he joined the Men’s Club.
Driving down to Miami to work 14-15 hour days as the Director of Pharmacy at Baptist Hospital was taking a toll on Gary. After marrying off the first of their three daughters, Gary and Debbie made one more move to Delray Beach and Gary took a non-managerial pharmacist position at Boca Raton Regional Hospital where he currently is working. So I’m sure you know what’s next – that’s right, he joined the Men’s Club to become active at Temple Torah, serving on the Temple’s Board of Directors and recently was the President of the Men’s Club.
Gary is a sports fanatic and it’s only natural to have him continue being active in the Region by coordinating the Miami Marlins Jewish Heritage Games over the past four years. Gary is active in his professional society, the Florida Society of Health Systems Pharmacists, serving as President in the 80’s and currently in the Legal and Regulatory Council. Gary is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Parkinson Disease Association, South Florida Chapter.
Gary and Debbie have three daughters who are true Floridians and they are very proud to have six grandchildren.
Gary loves musical theater and attends long weekends in New York with his bride of 44 years, Debbie, to see Broadway musicals and has even attended the Tony Awards. Maybe that’s why people think he is from New York!
My name is Alana Rudinsky. I am 15 years old and in the 10th grade at American Heritage. I am currently the Social Action Tikun Olam chair and Executive Vice President of my USY chapter at Temple Torat Emet, continuing my position from last year as Executive VP. Additionally, I was honored to be named TTUSY’s USYer of the year for the 2015-16 academic year.
At school, I was recently inducted into the Quill and Scroll National Honor Society for my involvement in multimedia and video production; and, by invitation, I have been selected as “one to watch” in preparation as a National Merit Scholarship Candidate. In addition to honors classes, multimedia and band, I am involved in several clubs including Book Club, Jewish Cultural Awareness and Kind Club. I am also one of the co-founders of our school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance chapter and this year’s first Vice President.
Outside of school, I continue my Jewish studies through JLI – the Jewish Learning Institute at the Chabad of Lake Worth. Last year, I volunteered at the Chabad’s Hebrew School shadowing a girl with special needs. As a token of appreciation, the Chabad sponsored me on an amazing C-Teen Xtreme adventure this past summer. This all-girls traveling camp took me to places I have never been both physically and spiritually. We travelled and toured out west while learning about our Jewish heritage.
I am proud to be a member of the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches for the past six years where singing as part of a communal choir has taught me invaluable life skills. Among those skills, I love volunteering! In the summer of 2015, I volunteered at the Wiston Family Torah Tots preschool summer camp. I didn’t know it at the time, but I found out later that several of the counselors kept requesting me because I worked hard and interacted well with the kids. With the help of my mom and my sister Zoe, I painted and sold eggs to raise $365 to sponsor a student in Bali through Education Rocks, an international program that helps children from underdeveloped communities go to school. In all, entering my sophomore year of high-school, I have already accumulated well over 400 community service hours through these activities and more. Thank you to my family and my Youth Director, Stacey Ripin, for all the support and guidance. Thank you so much to the Men’s Club of Temple Torat Emet for this award. This is such an honor.
My name is Mikayla Mathews. I’m 15 years old and in my junior year at Park Vista High School. I am a past president of the Temple Torat Emet USY chapter (TTEUSY) and the current Arvot Subregional Secretary.
I’m very active in school clubs at Park Vista. I was just inducted into National English Honor Society. I play a role in the Jewish Student Union club. Im also involved in Book Club, Young Politicians, and Model UN. I’m also a member of HeChalutzim, USY’s Israel Club, 613 Mitzvah Corps, USY’s Social Action and Tikun Olam Club, and soon to be a member of Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society, USY’s Religion/Education Club. When I’m not doing something involving school or clubs, I’m usually volunteering, or I’m doing something with Stacey Ripin, my youth director.
USY has given me the chance to become an experienced leader. I was pretty shy and introverted when I first moved to Florida before my freshman year. Now, I’m the complete opposite. USY has provided me so many opportunities for me to step out of my comfort zone, and has turned me into the person I am today.
I would like to thank my grandma, Arlene Meisel and my youth director, Stacey Ripin for all their support and rides to conventions and services. I would also like to thank the Temple Torat Emet Men’s Club for letting me have the honor of receiving this award.