12 Under 36: Members of the Tribe

A screenshot from the Cleveland Jewish News and Classic Lexus 2021 12 Under 36: Members of the Tribe virtual event Aug. 24. 

The Cleveland Jewish News celebrated the 2021 class of CJN and Classic Lexus 12 Under 36: Members of the Tribe Aug. 24, spotlighting some of the most impressive young Jewish leaders in the Northeast Ohio community.

In his opening remarks to approximately 150 online viewers, Kevin S. Adelstein, publisher and CEO of the CJN and president of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, said these 12 extraordinary individuals herald the Jewish new year, providing a sense of hope and promise with Rosh Hashanah just two weeks away.

“As we usher in 5782 – a new year – let us all wish and pray that it brings in a sense of hope and renewal, personified in part, by these young 12 leaders we are proud to honor tonight,” he said.

Adelstein added that a virtual event “is not what we had planned or wanted,” and instead had intended to hold the event in person at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike. But safety is always paramount.

He acknowledged the synagogue, and their executive director, Jay Ross, particularly, who acted in “the very best interest of the community” the congregation serves by making “the difficult but responsible decision to shut down their in-person events temporarily to do their part in helping to mitigate the rapid rise of the Delta variant of COVID that continues to spread throughout our community,” Adelstein said.

Paul Singerman, chairman of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company’s Board of Directors, also lauded the accomplishments of the individuals honored and the hope they provide.

“In these troubling and turbulent times that we live in, each of you gives me hope that the future of Judaism, our country and our world is in good hands,” Singerman said. “What stuck with me most about each of you is your commitment. Your commitment to Judaism, your commitment to community and your commitment to making the world around you a little bit better every single day.”

Adelstein pointed out that the 12 honorees have accomplished so much, so early in their careers and each of them, regardless of the fields they are in, share a notable dedication to the Jewish community.

“They are religious leaders and they are advocates for the Jewish community,” he said. “They fight antisemitism here at home and around the world. They advocate for peace in Israel. And they help build bridges for other leaders like them who want to make Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio a better place to live, play and pray.”

Adelstein and Singerman were joined by Matt Dietz, general manager of Classic Lexus in Willoughby Hills, in presenting the event and honoring the latest class of honorees.

Those honorees are:

Jennie Becker, upper school science teacher at Hawken School

Jody E. Bonhard, director of Cleveland Bridge Builders at the Cleveland Leadership Center

Rachel Edelman, assistant director at AJC Cleveland

Alexandra Forkosh, associate attorney at Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

Rabbi Chase Foster, rabbi for engagement and learning at jHUB

Heather Froimson, nurse practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Center for Neurological Restoration

Steven Muszynski, founder and CEO of Splash Financial

Rachel Newman, manager, business consulting at Ernst & Young

Jonathon Nisenboum, senior manager, engagement at Acumen Solutions, A Salesforce Company

Samuel (Shalom) Schwartzben, senior associate at BDO

Seth Weinstein, vice president, revenue cycle at Medical Service Company

Sarah B. Wilschek, executive director at Congregation Rodef Sholom

The honorees shared stories with attendees of their proudest professional accomplishments, their most memorable Jewish experience, the best advice they’d ever been given and how they handled the COVID-19 lockdown. Throughout these stories were the themes of selflessness and a drive to serve the community.

Bonhard and Newman shared their pride in helping others, while Muszynski spoke of the importance of perseverance.

Bonhard said she is proud of her role in helping young professionals become leaders and advance their careers through her work at the Cleveland Leadership Center.

“I have the honor and privilege to be part of so many different growth and learning journeys,” she said. ”It’s really exciting to (help people) follow their dreams and make greater impact in the community.”

Newman spoke of her pride in giving back and sharing her experiences with younger professionals as a manager at Ernst & Young.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of in my professional career has been the ability to give back some of the shared learnings and experiences that I’ve had throughout my career,” she said. “One of these is being able to advocate for yourself.”

Muszynski said he is most proud of starting his company, Splash Financial, and how, after overcoming obstacles, his company has been able to help many people save money on student loans.

“We’ve made a real impact on a lot of individuals’ lives, helping them save thousands of dollars and be able to live a better life,” he said.

Other awardees, including Edelman, Forkosh, Foster and Wilschek, shared their most memorable Jewish experiences.

Edelman spoke of her time as the member of a Jewish a capella group, the MeshugaNotes, at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“It was such an amazing opportunity to learn songs in Hebrew and English and even Yiddish, and connect with people in a way that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to do otherwise,” she said.

The Cleveland Jewish News celebrated the 2021 class of CJN and Classic Lexus 12 Under 36: Members of the Tribe Aug. 24, spotlighting some of the most impressive young Jewish leaders in the Northeast Ohio community.

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Forkosh spoke of the lessons she learned from her parents and grandparents.

They “set a really good example for being generous with your time and resources,” she said. “Keeping that legacy alive is something that is important to me.”

Foster spoke of how meaningful it was when he was ordained as a rabbi, calling it “the moment of recognition and acknowledgment of all my years of learning and growth in rabbinical school,” but also the years “of work of learning and growing as a part of the Jewish community ... as someone who loves building, being a part of Jewish communities.”

Wilschek said her most memorable Jewish experience was attending Shabbat services with members of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh following the tragedy that took place there. Sitting with the survivors of the attack and talking with them afterward at oneg had a tremendous influence, she said.

“It is a memory that I will always have and it has had a great impact on how I look at my Jewry, my personal experiences and the experiences that I want individuals to also have ... in our world.”

Becker, Froimson and Weinstein discussed what helped them make it through the pandemic lockdown.

Becker and Weinstein spoke of being there for their newborns and Froimson turned to exercise and connected with friends to deal with the stress she faced as a health care provider during the pandemic.

Becker mentioned that she and her husband “spent almost (their son’s) entire first year together in our home. We got to be there for all of his firsts – crawling, standing up, walking and talking.”

Weinstein spoke of how he and his wife “were just learning and preparing (for) how to be parents including getting (their son’s) nursery ready.”

Froimson dealt with the stress of working in health care by exercising and connecting via video calls with “so many friends that I had just not been able to see a lot during the years.”

Finally, Nisenboum and Schwartzben shared some of the best advice they’ve received to further their careers.

“I think the best advice that anyone has ever given me is to be honest.” Nisenboum said. “And I think that’s in two ways – being honest to yourself and then being honest to others.”

Being honest with yourself involves “setting expectations for yourself and accepting those, and being honest to those so that you can fulfill what you need to be happy,” Nisenboum said. Whereas being honest with others “is being upfront with your friends and your family, and even strangers, and telling the truth and letting them know how you feel so that people can feel respected by your opinion and can come to you as a reliable source of truth.”

Schwartzben said he had received advice on the importance of having the right values from a summer camp director.

The director told him that “the future of the Jewish people will survive because of the values we instill in the next generation.”

Schwartzben added that this advice has influenced his focus on helping others.

“It’s because of this advice that I’ve continued to give back and to make an impact on our youth and to the Jewish community at large,” he said.

Giving back is important to the CJN as well – it made a donation to Camp Stone, an Orthodox Jewish summer camp in Sugar Grove, Pa., on behalf of Schwartzben. The donation to Schwartzben’s charity of choice came after he won a CJN contest obtaining the most Facebook likes, 450, for his post on being named a 2021 12 Under 36 honoree.

The title sponsor was Classic Lexus and the supporting sponsor was KMK Promotional Sales, LLC.

Meet the 2021 Class of 12 Under 36: Members of the Tribe

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For Jennie Becker, who chairs the Jewish Community Center of Cleveland’s Camp Wise alumni committee and is a member of Camp Wise’s camp committee in Claridon Township and Beachwood, fall never ended her time at camp.

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It’s an ongoing joke to Jody E. Bonhard that she can’t escape a career in teaching.

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For as far back as Rachel Edelman can remember, she’s held an innate desire to help people become better versions of themselves.

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When Alexandra Forkosh was 5 years old, she combined her love of Hebrew school and family vacations to Mexico into her first career aspiration…

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For Heather Froimson, inspiration to pursue health care studies came from her grandfather, Dr. Avrum Froimson, a retired orthopedic hand surge…

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After working at General Electric as a financial analyst, Steve Muszynski decided to launch a business in Cleveland that would help families s…

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When Rachel Newman returned to Cleveland after spending eight years away, she dove into both Jewish community life and into the life of the ge…

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Jonathon Nisenboum, 32, of Highland Heights, cares deeply about the Cleveland Jewish community.

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Even after growing up in Toronto, moving to New York and then finally ending up in Cleveland in 2016, Samuel Schwartzben is no stranger to the Northeast Ohio Jewish community. The 35-year-old Beachwood resident attended Camp Stone growing up, which is where he was introduced to Cleveland. 

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When asked why Cleveland means so much to him as a young professional and community member, 33-year-old Beachwood resident Seth Weinstein said…

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When asked why Northeast Ohio Jewry means so much to her, Sarah Wilschek (nee Grinstein), executive director of Congregation Rodef Sholom in Y…

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