Women volunteers honored for outstanding service
The Jewish Women’s Round Table and the Jewish Review are once again collaborating to recognize outstanding women volunteers who have been selected by their organizations to receive the Round Table’s Song of Miriam Awards.
The 14 Song of Miriam honorees for 2022 are Myra Blatt, Lois Eaton, Judy Freeman, Lauren Goldstein, Robbie Lambert, Shoshanna Lansberg, Carol Lavender, Shirona Lurie, Niomi Morr, Danelle Romain, Alysa Rose, Francine Shetterly, Sue Wendel and Ahuva Zaslavsky. (See profiles of each recipient below.)
The awards are usually presented during a brunch event in June, however that event has not been held for the past two years due to the pandemic. Once again, in 2022, the continuing Covid situation caused the cancellation of the in-person event.
Next year, JWRT is planning to resume the in-person brunch event, which is usually held in early June. The 2023 brunch will recognize the volunteers honored during the pandemic as well as a new group of outstanding women.
“Even though the pandemic has brought many things to a halt, it hasn’t lessened the need for committed volunteers to help worthy causes,” said JWRT President Marki Maizels. “We are again very grateful to the Jewish Review for ensuring that the efforts of these women are brought to the attention of the Jewish community.”
For more information about the Jewish Women’s Round Table and the Song of Miriam awards, visit www.JWRT.org.
MYRA BLATT: Honored by Beit Am, Corvallis
Newly arrived in Corvallis, the Blatts quickly joined Beit Am. Over time, Myra has volunteered in nearly every possible capacity; notably, she takes significant leadership roles.
She started teaching in the all-volunteer religious school and later became the school’s administrator. During two board terms, she served as Education Liaison, chaired the Religious Affairs Committee and was Vice-President and President.
Myra also oversaw the “monumental” move to Beit Am’s new building in May 2019.
She coordinated High Holiday services for seven years, described as a “massive, complex undertaking.”
And using her nursing experience, she helped lead Hadassah’s women’s health programming.
Currently, Myra manages the Hesed Circle, which supports members who need assistance, and coordinates Beit Am’s support to local schools.
Beit Am calls Myra “a gem” who is competent, creative, tenacious and generous. They say it’s always a pleasure to work with Myra, and they’re grateful for her commitment.
LOIS EATON: Honored by P’nai Or
Lois and her family joined P’nai Or in 1996 after attending a High Holiday service and loving the music and davening. As her children studied for their b’nai mitzvah, she also learned more about Judaism. She felt completely welcome as a non-Jew and appreciated the rituals.
Even though she was working full time as a nurse practitioner, raising her family and maintaining a large home garden, the congregation has always been able to count on Lois. She leads the congregation’s garden work and contributes amazing meals and desserts at community gatherings. Her gracious home often hosts Sukkot, Shavuot and Lag B’Omer festivals.
When leadership grew thin, Lois stepped into various roles to keep the P’nai Or community together. She has a quiet manner and great judgment, is attentive to details and a humble networker, helps those in need and is nonjudgmental of others. In short, P’nai Or says Lois reminds us of the best of Judaism.
JUDY FREEMAN: Honored by Shaarie Torah Sisterhood
With her proper British flare and overflowing heart, Judy Freeman has held the positions of Shaarie Torah Sisterhood President, Secretary and member-at-large. She helps manage the hamentaschen fundraising project and annual latke fry, works on committees, helped create an annual shul Gardening Party and is always up for sorting out a challenge.
Judy holds a doctor of medicine from the University of Birmingham in the UK, where she trained and practiced anesthesiology. She has volunteered for three medical missions to India.
Before coming to Oregon, Judy was an active member of Hadassah in Pittsburgh. Now retired, she continues her volunteer work with SMART Oregon, Chamber Music Northwest and Beaverton’s Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. She enjoys travelling the world, music and Israeli dancing and is learning to chant Haftorah.
Shaarie Torah Sisterhood says Judy is always willing to lend a hand and pitch in. She is a joy to work with, gives by example and is an outstanding woman leader in their organization.
LAUREN GOLDSTEIN: Honored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
The Jewish Federation describes Lauren as full of creativity, energy and true commitment to the Jewish community. Being a “marketer,” her emphasis is on connections and engagement. She always says, “When people come together, great things happen.”
As a Jewish Federation Board member, past Campaign Chair and three years as Board Chair (during the challenges of the pandemic), she exhibited strong leadership and community-building vision.
Professionally, Lauren is a “growth leader” who co-founded Women in Revenue and is an advisor to several technology companies.
In her own words, Lauren recounts how she became engaged in Jewish community: “It was as a college student at Tufts that I really began to immerse myself in Jewish life and saw a vision of what a vibrant Jewish community could be. This was further enhanced while spending a semester in Israel. When I came back to Portland at 25, I was compelled to bring the vibrant Jewish community life to Portland.”
ROBBIE LAMBERT: Honored by Congregation Shir Tikvah
A former teacher and longtime member of the Shir Tikvah community, Robbie was instrumental in piloting a one-on-one Hebrew curriculum for the congregation’s fourth-grade students and training other volunteers how to use the materials.
Her passion for a cleaner environment has translated into workshops on how to reduce the use of plastics and, most recently, a “Reverse Tashlich” event that resulted in more than 2,500 pounds of trash being hauled out of the Johnson Creek Flood Plain.
She is currently the chair of Shir Tikvah’s Tikkun Olam Project, a working group that focuses on social and environmental justice.
Shir Tikvah says that Robbie shows great compassion for those who are in need. She is dependable and thorough, characteristics not to be taken lightly in a volunteer.
SHOSHANNA LANSBERG: Honored by Women of Reform Judaism/Beth Israel Sisterhood
Shoshanna has served on the board of Women of Reform Judaism/Beth Israel Sisterhood since 2016.
In her roles as corresponding secretary, vice-president and president, she raised funds for Beth Israel’s religious school, wrote postcards to urge voters to exercise their rights, and worked for reproductive and racial justice along with various other causes.
She also produced an exhibit devoted to the 100th anniversary of WRJ at Beth Israel that received an Or Ami “Light of My People” Silver Award in 2018 from WRJ.
Her other current volunteer efforts include serving on the Public Art Committee for the Beaverton Arts Commission and as a Precinct Committee Person for the Democratic Party of Washington County.
Beth Israel Sisterhood says Shoshanna is very dedicated, welcoming, open to new ideas and encouraging to new members. As part of a younger group of women, she seeks to involve younger women and help plan new programs.
CAROL LAVENDER: Honored by Beit Haverim
Carol became a member of the Beit Haverim Board as ritual chair a year after joining the synagogue.
She helps oversee and organize many annual religious and festival events, including the Chanukah Dinner and Passover Seder. For the High Holidays, Carol organizes Torah and siddur readers. She also organizes and oversees the annual Women’s-led Shabbat Service.
Carol is a life member of Women of Reform Judaism. For four years, she was a trustee on the national board of the Union for Reform Judaism.
She is currently a member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
Carol participated in URJ’s para-rabbinic program and also volunteered to serve for a week on a tank base in Israel during a one-month trip there.
Beit Haverim says Carol is a valuable volunteer because she cares deeply about people and is willing to take on any assignment to which she can contribute.
SHIRONA LURIE: Honored by Congregation Kesser Israel
Shirona Lurie came to Portland seven years ago and since then has contributed her talents and enthusiasm to enhance Kesser Israel.
Shirona was born in New York and lived her formative years in Israel. She had a gift for music, and in 1999 wrote and produced an album of Judaic love songs. Before moving to Portland, she was a full-time cantor in New York.
At Kesser Israel, Shirona has been involved in building community. She invites groups of people to her home for events and hosts women’s musical and learning programs. She also was the inspiration for a rabbinic class that lasted several years.
Shirona is an artist and recently taught an art-collage class at Kesser, as well as volunteering to teach art at Maayan Torah Day School.
Kesser says Shirona’s love for Judaism combined with her talents and ideas for women’s programs have been an inspiration, and her friendly and lively conversations always bring people together.
NIOMI MORR: Honored by Kol Shalom
Niomi Morr is a pillar of the Kol Shalom community.
For decades, Niomi played music and sang with the Kol Shalom Music Makers. Her singing voice and harmonies added joy to celebrations and holiday observances. She has also actively supported childhood education in many ways.
When something needs to be done, Niomi jumps in to help. She has served on the Kol Shalom board numerous times including as secretary. As an active member of the Social Action Committee, Niomi worked closely with the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good at the last full Oregon legislative session, focusing on housing issues.
Niomi shines in her work on the Membership Committee. She welcomes prospective members, learns about them, tells them about Kol Shalom and provides a “warm embrace” for those who join.
Niomi’s attributes – kindness, authenticity, friendliness, heartfelt commitment to social justice and deep caring about others – make her a cherished and valued Kol Shalom member.
DANELLE ROMAIN: Honored by Portland Jewish Academy
Danelle Romain is a native Portlander who spent several years in Washington, D.C., working for an Oregon Congressman, a national trade association and as a press secretary for a U.S. presidential campaign before returning to Oregon, where she now covers a broad range of current policy issues for a lobbying firm.
At PJA, Danelle has served on a number of board committees including safety and security, finance and governance. Danelle is also the Mittleman Jewish Community Center/PJA representative on the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation Board.
Danelle has been a member of the Executive Committee of the PJA/MJCC boards and has served as their president since July 2022.
PJA says it is most grateful for Danelle’s tremendous dedication and service to the school, describing her as a passionate PJA parent and volunteer. Her commitment to Jewish education coupled with her deep understanding of the needs of the school as a board leader make her an extremely valuable member of the PJA kehillah.
ALYSA ROSE: Honored by Eastside Jewish Commons
Eastside Jewish Commons describes Alysa, one of its cofounders, as working with grace, determination and integrity for many years to build the Jewish community. Having led a number of mission-driven organizations and companies, she has a wealth of knowledge and leadership savvy.
As part of EJC’s founding steering committee and board, she has contributed innumerable hours and a huge amount of energy to building its mission, vision, values and more.
EJC says Alysa is calm, thoughtful, warm and thorough. She brings a depth of compassion and love to her board service, consistently looking out for those who are less fortunate or seeking community.
In her work life, she is the President and CEO of Relay Resources, a nonprofit organization that cultivates meaningful work experiences for people with disabilities.
EJC adds that Alysa has been an unsung volunteer leader for the east side community for more than a decade, and it is an honor to serve alongside her.
FRANCINE SHETTERLY: Honored by Temple Beth Sholom, Salem
Francine is a model of service in supporting and expanding Jewish life in the mid-Willamette Valley and at Temple Beth Sholom.
For more than 30 years, Francine has worn many hats and served in a variety of leadership positions. She was board president twice, vice-president twice and currently sits on the board as immediate past president.
Under Francine’s leadership, both membership and revenue expanded greatly despite Covid.
Francine has been a Hebrew teacher in TBS’ Baneinu Religious School Program for 20 years and regularly chants Torah at Shabbat morning services.
She played a critical role in moving the congregation’s solar project forward, assisting with writing a grant application to PGE. She also helped write a grant application to FEMA that brought needed security improvements to the temple.
Temple Beth Sholom says Francine demonstrates a spirit of welcome, inclusivity and participation. She loves TBS and makes others want to participate, as well.
SUE WENDEL: Honored by the Next Generations Group
Sue Wendel has been instrumental in helping the Next Generations Group to grow and thrive. The group was founded in 2011 and includes Holocaust survivors and their offspring, refugees and community members who support preserving the lessons learned from history.
Sue finds speakers for the monthly get-togethers, organizes social events and volunteer projects, and provides communications to members. Her friendly, warm and organized manner helps members feel welcome and valued.
As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, Sue is compelled to honor the legacies of her parents, Hugo and Alice Kern, as well as all those murdered in the Holocaust, their survivors and descendants.
Through her dedication and hard work, Sue has helped to create a group that welcomes not only survivors and descendants, but anyone who supports the NGG mission of exploring the past, looking to the future, and sharing stories of courage, resilience and hope, not only with the community but also worldwide through the group’s online presence.
AHUVA ZASLAVSKY: Honored by Mittleman Jewish Community Center
Ahuva Zaslavksy is a printmaker and painter who was born in Tel Aviv and moved to Portland in 2010.
She and her family became actively involved at Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland Jewish Academy, and she joined the boards of directors for both in 2019.
Ahuva’s strong connection to the local Israeli community has allowed her to play a pivotal role in planning programs as the MJCC seeks to become more fully engaged with the Israeli community. MJCC says it’s excited to have Ahuva’s leadership now as this important work resumes after the pandemic.
In the past year, Ahuva invested time and energy on the committee reviewing MJCC’s business model and articulating a vision and new short-term strategic priorities for the center.
MJCC says Ahuva is a particularly valuable volunteer because of her passion for MJCC and her active involvement in the local Israeli, PJA and MJCC communities as well as the community of local artists.