2019 18 Difference Makers

Giving back can take many forms.

How one gives their time, talent and treasure is often dictated by personal preference, passion, time and where one sees the biggest needs – knowing well, there are more than one can ever address in a lifetime.

Some like to help others without seeking any credit, operating under the radar. Others like to call attention to all they do to benefit their community, potentially in the hopes that someone else might be inspired to give back. Some prefer to make a difference in a formal sense – with their money, or on a board for an organization to which they feel a special connection. Others might give their time whenever and wherever they can, dabbling in various areas, but always giving the best of themselves.

There’s no one way to do it correctly. However, all those selected for a Cleveland Jewish News class of 18 Difference Makers – more than 100 people from across Northeast Ohio since 2015 – have demonstrated some combination of giving their time, talent and treasure. They’ve found a way to channel their skills, experience and interests into addressing a pressing need in our community, and often beyond. Over the years since we created the 18 Difference Makers, there have been 600 nominations for the honor.

Reflecting on the 2019 class of 18 Difference Makers, diversity in change makers hasn’t skipped a beat. This class represents a variety of Jewish denominations, backgrounds, ages and professions. They include executive-level personnel, nonprofit leaders, attorneys, educators, a rabbi, a cantor and more.

A theme that will emerge as you read the honoree profiles is that change-making is as much a result of sheer hard work as it is personal passion for a cause.

For example, Milton Maltz first experienced hate as a 5-year-old – an experience that stuck with him for 85 years. As he’s gone on to become one of Northeast Ohio’s most successful business leaders, every step of the way he’s worked to fight hate at its root – whether by challenging authority and the status quo throughout his career, or inspiring a more tolerant next generation via the Stop the Hate essay contest. For those efforts and others led by Milton and his wife, Tamar, the couple is the recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Another example is Dan Moulthrop, who was an early-2000s transplant to Northeast Ohio. In his relatively short time here, he’s made quite a loud voice for himself and his cause in advocating for free speech and open dialogue. Dan’s not only made it his professional mission, but also a personal fight.

All of the individuals celebrated in these pages have found their own ways to make things happen, and the Jewish and Northeast Ohio communities are the beneficiaries. I invite you to join us in honoring their efforts at the Cleveland Jewish News’ 18 Difference Makers Awards Ceremony Nov. 24 at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.

Not only will we celebrate the giving of their time, talent and treasure, but also the many different ways one can do tikkun olam with their own flair. And over the last five years, we’ve likely gotten some ideas of our own.

Meet the 2019 Class of 18 Difference Makers

Mindi Axner’s volunteer journey started with a carnival. While growing up in Pepper Pike, a younger neighbor died from cancer, and Axner, her …

Having worked as a real estate consultant for about 10 years, Andrew Brickman decided he wanted to set out on a new mission.

Growing up on Long Island in New York in a Conservative family, Jessica Cohen held a deep desire to go to Israel.

A native of Duluth, Minn., Marc Freimuth said he would not have predicted his level of involvement in the Cleveland Jewish community at the ti…

Michael Davis Hoenig strives to brighten the lives of LGBTQ members of Cleveland’s Orthodox Jewish community through his work with MAKOM, a gr…

Ira Kaplan said he believes by making a difference in not only the Jewish community, but in the general community as well, he can help make Cl…

Elizabeth Klein vividly remembers her many visits with her grandmother, Janet, in Peoria, Ill., when she was a girl. She recalls her grandmoth…

Tom Lockshin grew up with role models even he couldn’t believe he had. His father chaired every Jewish organization he could in Canton, includ…

Lawrence A. Mack realized that when he returned to Cleveland after graduating college and working in New York City for an accounting firm, he …

For Michal Marcus, the nonsectarian model of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Northeast Ohio resonates deeply.

It was Jared Miller’s parents who instilled in him the values of giving back to the Jewish community. Growing up in the Detroit area, his pare…

Michele Weiss has worked at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights for 20 years, but in her “spare time,” she’s also a city coun…


Kevin S. Adelstein is publisher and CEO of the Cleveland Jewish News and president of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company.

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