The Cleveland Jewish News honored 28 people for the work they have done to repair the world and better Northeast Ohio’s Jewish community during the fourth annual 18 Difference Makers.
More than 550 people attended the Nov. 18 ceremony at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights. The atmosphere was celebratory but solemn in light of the Oct. 27 shootings that took the lives of 11 people at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.
2018 18 Difference Makers photos
“This is a difficult time for Jews around the world,” said Kevin S. Adelstein, president of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company and publisher and CEO of the Cleveland Jewish News. “This year, we’re especially honored to recognize these acts of kindness.”
Noting that the date was Nov. 18, 2018, Adelstein spoke of the significance of the number 18 to Jews.
“Eighteen is etched in our conscience as the number corresponding to the Hebrew word ‘chai,’ which means life,” he said, adding in reference to those lost in Pittsburgh, “May their memories indeed be a blessing and inspiration to continue celebrating the ‘Chai Difference Makers’ for years to come.”
Paul Singerman, vice chair of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company board of directors, read remarks prepared by board chairman David R. Hertz II.
“When the Cleveland Jewish News first decided to hold the Difference Makers event, it was to honor those who positively impact our community, whose commitments and passions make Jewish life a bit better for us all,” Singerman read.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Roe Green for her philanthropy and work with the arts, both in the Jewish community and throughout Northeast Ohio.
“How could I possibly be receiving a lifetime achievement award when I am still so young?” she quipped.
“I love the arts for many reasons, and chief among them is how the arts make us more human,” Green said. She also spoke of the importance of women to speak out, stand up and to rise “resolutely to alter the political landscape.”
U.S. District Court Judge Dan Aaron Polster received the Civic Leadership Award.
The Stein family received the Generation Award: Carmie and Todd Stein, Abby Diamond, Michelle Hirsch, Jodi Meridieth, Rachel Weinberg, Geraldine and the late Morton Stein, who died Jan. 1.
The 2018 class of 18 Difference Makers was comprised of Devorah Alevsky, Stanley Bernath, Irv Berliner, Dr. Susan Bichsel, Art Elk and David Elk, Roman Frayman, Michael Horvitz, Adam R. Jacobs, Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein, Mandy Kwait, Rabbi Enid Lader, Fern Ruth Levy, Deena Nyer Mendlowitz, Deborah Picker, Mark J. Sack, Donald S. Scherzer, Lee C. Shapiro and Erica G. Starrfield.
In an unannounced gesture, Adelstein presented Stephen H. Hoffman, outgoing president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, a plaque consisting of replicas of two CJN pages: one from March 24, 1984 that included one of the earliest stories written about Hoffman, and the other from Feb. 23, when a story about his retirement was published.
“On behalf of the entire community, the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company acknowledges Stephen H. Hoffman for his 35 years of dedicated service as president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland,” Adelstein said. “It has been our pleasure to chronicle your monumental accomplishments through these pages. Kol hakavod on your retirement. May you go from strength to strength.”
“I’m here to talk about someone else,” said Hoffman, turning the subject back to his introduction of Green, whom he said may be a patron of the arts to adults, but to children and students, she is a “fairy godmother” for her generosity.
Rabbi Enid Lader, spiritual leader of Beth Israel-The West Temple in Cleveland, delivered the invocation.
She told the Hasidic story of a man lost in the forest who calls out to another man he sees, who is also lost.
When the first man asks if he can show him the way out, the second replies, “I, too, am lost. But if you take my hand, perhaps we can find our way out of this forest together.”
“In one sense,” Lader said, “there are so many who are wandering – and lost.”
She said there is another way to understand the story.
“For those who are helpers, it can be challenging to do it alone,” she said. “Having supportive family and friends and colleagues and congregants can make such a difference.”
Those in attendance joined Lader as she offered the Shehecheyanu prayer, the prayer of gratitude used at key milestones, as her blessing.