Linda Schoenberg will receive the 2023 Golda Meir Award from NA’AMAT Cleveland at a virtual event on June 1.
The chapter-specific award, named after the late Golda Meir, is given to a woman of distinction who gives her heart, time and commitment to the organization, according to the NA’AMAT Cleveland website. Meir was the fourth prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, and the only woman to hold the position in the Israeli government. She died in Jerusalem in 1978.
Schoenberg serves on both the local and national boards of NA’AMAT, and is a member of her synagogue’s sisterhood. She is also on the local Jewish National Fund board, and is a past member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland.
She serves on the board of the Cleveland Academy of Veterinary Medicine. In 1988, she opened the first feline-only veterinary clinic in Northeast Ohio – the Just Cats Hospital. She is also a frequent volunteer for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
Marci Curtis, executive director of NA’AMAT Cleveland, told the Cleveland Jewish News that Schoenberg is similar to the award’s namesake.
“She’s giving, she’s about Israel and she’s a hardworking, independent, strong woman that has accomplished so much in her life,” she said. “She just gives of herself, to the point where it is amazing how much she gives.”
Curtis said selecting Schoenberg for this year’s honor was a unanimous decision.
“She’s the kind of person that doesn’t get awards,” she said. “That was the hardest part, convincing her that she is deserving. We had to tell her it was OK, that she does deserve it. She is Miss NA’AMAT to me and represents all we stand for.”
Schoenberg told the CJN she has been involved with NA’AMAT for over 20 years. She lives in Cleveland Heights and attends B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike. Even though she said she’s believed in NA’AMAT’s mission for so long, being told she was going to be honored was “quite the shock.”
“All of the previous honorees, in my opinion, were people who are major, well-known people in our community, and then there is me,” she said, adding her community recognition comes from her career as a vet. “People don’t know me because I was a wealthy philanthropist or came from a well-known family. I am just little ol’ me. So, I’m in a very different category. But, (NA’AMAT) believed that how I always volunteer to do things is what really counts. All of the things I do for NA’AMAT, it all just makes me happier.”
The event will also benefit the Kanot Youth Village, a NA’AMAT youth village in Israel. Founded in 1952, the village offers a program that prepares students to enter Hebrew University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and an equestrian center. In addition to basic studies, students have access to internships in the stable each week under instructor guidance, according to the NA’AMAT Cleveland website. Curtis said the selection of this cause “perfectly” tied into Schoenberg’s professional background.
“The Kanot Youth Village has really grown and could really use the funds,” she said. “We wanted to do something related to veterinary medicine. So, that’s how this all came about - they have the need and prepare students that want to go onto vet school. Plus, 95% of the students who go there graduate and then go onto university.”
Schoenberg said she was struck by how much the kids “thrive” in the village.
“And it’s beyond their wildest dreams to succeed, but they do,” she said.
Thinking back on how much NA’AMAT has impacted her life, Schoenberg said it’s an organization she sees herself being involved in for years to come.
“There are always new challenges, but NA’AMAT always rises to the occasion,” she said. “They think outside the box. They’re always reinventing themselves as new problems and situations arise, and that is what will keep me coming back.”