2021 18 Difference Makers

We have waited for more than a year to host the Cleveland Jewish News 18 Difference Makers awards ceremony in person – again.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the responsible decision to hold the 2020 event virtually. Now, as we prepare to host the 2021 Class of 18 Difference Makers celebratory event in person on Dec. 9 at the newly remodeled Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights, we continue to face the ongoing challenges associated with the pandemic. Yet, at the same time, we have much to be thankful for, including the strength of our community.

That strength was no more evident than just a few weeks ago when we successfully held our first in-person event since COVID-19, “An Evening with Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey,” featuring The New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters. We and our attendees could not have been more pleased with how that spectacular night turned out, given the circumstances. While we are moving forward with our plans to honor our class of 18 Difference Makers in person, we also will offer a virtual option for those who would like to participate, but still feel uncomfortable in an indoor setting. At the same time, we fully recognize that a virtual option means those friends and family of our honorees can log on and enjoy the ceremony – from anywhere in the world. A silver lining given the state we’re in, I suppose.

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

However, the light at the end of the tunnel 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 still all too familiar to us.

But even as some things remain the same, I sense a 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 significant difference in the Northeast Ohio Jewish community and beyond. It is our pleasure to honor some of these individuals who account for the CJN’s 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 beginning with our inaugural class in 2015, 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 a cross-section of the Jewish community, from the leader of a day school, to business leaders encompassing a plethora of sectors throughout Northeast Ohio, including a CEO, a banker, an ad executive and attorneys. You identified and we selected several nonprofit leaders working in our synagogues and organizations throughout the community as well as at the Federation. Also, the leader of the Anti-Defamation League, the visionary and founder of a JCC in Taiwan and there are others. We’re elated to tell all their stories and acknowledge all they do to strengthen Northeast Ohio – from near and far.

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

The 2021 class will be featured in the Cleveland Jewish News’ Dec. 10 issue as well as on cjn.org and Facebook. It is also our pleasure, along with co-presenting sponsors Classic Lexus and McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., LPA, our supporting sponsor shark&minnow, Generation Award sponsor Krause Family Foundation, Lanyard sponsor Rent a Daughter Senior Care Services and Cocktail sponsor Cleveland Jewish Funerals, who will all help us celebrate our honorees during the awards celebration Dec. 9 at Landerhaven.

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

Of course, the CJN will be following and enforcing all current health protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health. I hope to see you there.


Kevin S. Adelstein is Publisher and CEO of the Cleveland Jewish News and President of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company.

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