The Schultz Campus for Jewish Life’s annual Campus Gala, with the theme of “celebrating our community,” will honor Mike and Teri Segal on Nov. 9 at the Albert L. and Janet A. Schultz Campus for Jewish Life in Akron, the organization announced in a news release.
Funds raised at the gala will benefit the Shaw JCC of Akron and The Lippman School.
The Segals will be honored for their service on several leadership roles at the Shaw JCC and at Temple Israel in Bath Township. Mike Segal is a past president of the Shaw JCC and the vice president of the Jewish Community Board of Akron. He is also an officer and co-president of Temple Israel. Teri Segal served on the Campus Gala committee and has served on committees at Temple Israel. She has chaired the Akron community’s Purim Ball celebration and is a member of Temple Israel sisterhood’s executive board.
“My vision for the future of Jewish Akron is to lay the foundation for continued Jewish involvement and proactively engage those folks,” said Mike Segal in the news release.
Teri Segal said, “(When we first moved here,) we reached out to Temple Israel, and I spoke to Cantor (Gedaliah) Gertz. He gave us the information we needed about the synagogue and then before we hung up, he asked me if I’d like to teach Sunday school. I never did, but I always felt flattered.”
The event will also recognize Akron-area rabbis Rabbi Elyssa Austerklein of Beth El Congregation, Rabbi Josh Brown of Temple Israel, Rabbi Michael Ross of Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson and Hillel at Kent State University and Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin from Anshe Sfard/Revere Road Synagogue in Bath Township, who will all receive the Community Spirit Award. The late Rabbi Mendy Sasonkin, Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin’s father, will be honored with the Rabbi Mendy Sasonkin Award for Righteousness. Mendy Sasonkin, who died in October 2018 after a battle with cancer, was the spiritual leader of Chabad of Akron/Canton since 1989 and of Revere Road Synagoguge since 1995.
“Beth El is a community open to change,” Austerklein said. “I am proud of the work I do with the ritual committee to be as inclusive as possible within the bounds of Conservative Judaism and halacha, or Jewish law. It is also my goal to bring meaning to every aspect of Jewish life – personalizing lifecycle events, focusing our prayers with spirituality and bringing God and Torah to meetings and moments that may otherwise feel mundane.”
Brown said, “We live in a society where our primary mode of communication is through a piece of technology. People want to be part of something larger than themselves and filled with meaning and real interactions. That’s what a synagogue provides and that’s what people are finding in Akron – especially in our Jewish community – because we’re so tight-knit and they’re welcomed in.”
Ross said, “I came to this area last August from a Conservative synagogue in Greensboro, N.C., and as the new kid on the block, it’s been an interesting acclimation process, but I’ve been able to balance those two schedules.”
The Rabbi Mendy Sasonkin Award for Righteousness will be presented to the rabbi for being “an individual who lived, without exception, a moral and ethical life dedicated to Judaism, the Jewish people and inspiring others to follow in this path,” according to the release.
“I am continuing the legacy of my father and I feel like I have a responsibility to continue his work,” Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin said. “I share that same passion and my wife does as well, to show unconditional love for everyone around them, to show that Judaism has excitement and equal opportunity for everyone, no matter what their background is.”
Joe Kanfer, chairman and venturer of Akron-based GOJO Industries Inc., described Sasonkin as having “unbelievable energy, commitment to the community and brilliance of human understanding. He had not only knowledge of text, but knowledge of people.”
The Campus Gala will feature a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by dinner, an after-dinner reception and drinks. Items will be available for auction, with proceeds benefiting the Shaw JCC and The Lippman School and guests will be invited to donate to a mission match. Items up for bid include a premium parking spot at the Schultz Campus, a vacation to Steamboat Springs, Colo., and a wine and champaign gift package, though more items will be announced. Mission match opportunities include the chance to sponsor a member of the Northern Cheyenne community to participate in First People’s Day, the chance to sponsor a child attending an 11-week camp at the JCC or sponsor two weeks of child care at the Shaw JCC’s Mandel Early Childhood Education Center.
Tickets are $125 and the reservation deadline is Oct. 18. If tickets are available after that date, they are $150. To reserve tickets, visit jewishakron.org/campus-gala or contact Ceil Cohen for more information at 330-836-0419 or email@example.com.