At its 73rd annual meeting, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta installed new lay leaders and recognized several community leaders and staff members for their contributions to the organization.
At the meeting, Ken Winkler, board of directors chair, introduced new officers for 2019-20: Sammy Grant, vice chair and treasurer; Amy Rubin, secretary; and Howard Hyman, officer at large. He then proceeded to install all new board members.
The board of directors for 2019-20 includes Lillie Axelrod, Ron Brill, Steven Cadranel, Lee N. Katz, Michael Kay, Douglas Kuniansky, Margo Marks, Josh Rosenberg, Brian Seitz, Michelle Simon, Rick Slagle, Todd Starr, Evan Toporek, Garrett Van de Grift, and Joel Arogeti, ex officio.
“I am incredibly enthusiastic about the pipeline of future leadership at the center,” MJCCA CEO Jared Powers said. “We are constantly being fed quality people who are excited to be our lay leaders and, in the future, serve on our board.”
Also recognized were staff members for winning several annual awards. Powers emphasized that the process behind the awards is entirely based on staff input.
“We send out nomination forms about a month before the meetings and they’re all nominated by the staff at the center,” he said.
He also explained that the awards are an important time for the leadership of the MJCCA to recognize all the hard work that staff put into making the MJCCA great and that he can’t think of a better venue for these awards than the annual meeting, where there is a crowd ready to cheer on their accomplishments.
“We have really built a customer-centric culture at the agency and the people who drive that are the staff, and it’s really important that we recognize that,” Powers said.
Michele Chambers and Zak Elfenbein were honored with the Phillip Bush Awards for Leadership; Michael Drucker and Courtney McCormick with the Team Player Awards; Jeffrey Jenkins with the Customer Service Award; Michelle Merrick-Davis, Beverley Wasilewsky and Joy Rosa with Raye Lynn Banks Teacher of the Year Awards; Nora Floersheim, Glenn Frank and Ari Weitz with Volunteer of the Year Awards.
Chambers said that while she was proud, her award wouldn’t be possible without the help of others.
“Although I’m honored to be awarded, it’s a direct reflection of the incredibly invested and talented teams we have in place supporting the MJCCA,” she said.
Floersheim co-chairs Active Mature Adults and teaches newcomers to the MJCCA’s Pickleball program, which attracts 30 to 40 seniors six days a week. She shared her initial reaction to receiving the recognition.
“I was very surprised, but very excited,” she said. “I was just really taken aback, and it’s amazing to get something that I consider so special for doing something I really like and enjoy.”
Floersheim added that she really appreciates the environment and the fact that she’s been able to watch the program grow.
“There’s so much good will and camaraderie, and we all really have become good friends,” she said. “It’s nurturing and warm and welcoming, and we love to just grab people looking in. Exercise for seniors isn’t always easy, but we try to make it fun!”
Frank, a fellow Volunteer of the Year Award winner, discussed his work with the MJCCA’s soccer program and why it’s so important to him.
“I’ve been involved with the JCC since I was a little kid,” he said. “I grew up playing various sports, going to camps, and stayed involved into adult life. My kids went to The Weinstein School at the center.”
Frank said that he had participated in the MJCCA’s Erwin Zaban Leadership Development Program and ended up working to build the soccer program.
“I was a competitive soccer player and have played basically my whole life,” he said. “It’s always been a passion of mine and I understood what was needed and wanted to build a program that succeeded.”
Although he was caught off-guard by the award, he was thankful for the recognition of all the effort and time he’s put into the program.
“I see the J as my community, and I feel really good about giving back to it,” Frank said.
The third recipient recognized for his volunteerism, Ari Weitz, said that his work was driven by his passion for basketball, and that “it only makes sense to help with the organization of the league and pick-up so members who want an outlet are able to play as often as possible.”
In addition to his leadership award, Elfenbein also directs “Sinai Sports with the MJCCA,” which won the Best New Program Award. Sinai Sports was recognized for its creativity and innovation.
Elfenbein was sure to share the credit all around. He emphasized that the program was really a collaboration with staff at the MJCCA, as well as Marisa Kaiser, director of Temple Sinai’s Center for Learning & Engagement, and her staff.
“I’m pretty fortunate to be surrounded by a great team here,” Elfenbein said.
He said that the program focuses on a different value each week at Sunday School and teaches lessons through sports and activities. For example, sportsmanship, respect and tikkun olam can all be taught outdoors and interactively.
“It gives the kids who have some affinity for being active to learn through doing what they already want to be doing,” Elfenbein said. “It allows us to meet them where they are.”
This year the program is expanding beyond Temple Sinai and into other congregations, including The Temple.
- Eddie Samuels
- Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
- Ken Winkler
- Amy Rubin
- Howard Hyman
- Lillie Axelrod
- Ron Brill
- Steven Cadranel
- Lee N. Katz
- Michael Kay
- Douglas Kuniansky
- Margo Marks
- Josh Rosenberg
- Brian Seitz
- Michelle Simon
- Rick Slagle
- Evan Toporek
- Garrett Van de Grift
- Joel Arogeti
- Jared Powers
- Michele Chambers
- Zak Elfenbein
- Michael Drucker
- Courtney McCormick
- Jeffrey Jenkins
- Michelle Merrick-Davis
- Beverley Wasilewsky
- Joy Rosa
- Nora Floersheim
- Glenn Frank
- Ari Weitz
- Temple Sinai
- The Temple
- The Weinstein School
- Todd Starr