Community Leaders Honored for Their Work at Biennial

New York, NY–JCC Association is proud to announce the recipients of several distinguished awards, which will be presented at the JCCs of North America Biennialin New Orleans in May. Rabbi Alvin Mars will receive the Morton L. Mandel Jewish Education Leadership Award; Louis (Buddy) Sapolsky, executive director of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, will receive the Florence G. Heller Award; Alan P. Solowof Chicago, past chair of JCC Association, will receive the Frank L. Weil Award for Distinguished Contribution to the JCC Field; and Noreen Gordon Sablotsky of Miami Beach will receive the Weil Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Armed Services Field. “We are fortunate that such distinguished individuals have devoted their time and energies to support the work we do in the JCC Movement,” said Gary Lipman, chief operating officer of JCC Association. “The Jewish community as a whole is the beneficiary of their efforts.”

The Morton L. Mandel Jewish Educational Leadership Award is presented biennially to an individual or an institution that has made a singular contribution to the enhancement of Jewish education in Jewish Community Centers. The Jewish Educational Leadership Award was first presented in 1998 to Morton L. Mandel, JCC Association honorary chair. In recognition of his efforts to enhance Jewish education in JCCs throughout North America, the award was re-named in his honor. This year’s recipient, Rabbi Alvin Mars, is a senior educator with more than forty years ofexperience. Dr. Mars’s career incorporates work in both academic, residential, and community-based educational settings. He served for seven years as the director of Camp Ramah in California, where he created the California Tikvah program for children with learning disabilities and emotional challenges. He also established the Ramah Academy, a Jewish educational outreach program providing Ramah experiences to the adult Jewish community. From 1984 to 1989, Dr. Mars was vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer of the University of Judaism.  He was also founding dean of the Fingerhut School of Education, executive director of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, as well as founding director of the American Hebrew Academy in North Carolina, the nation’s first liberal pluralistic Jewish boarding high school. Dr. Mars was founding chair of the Association of Institutions of Higher Learning for Jewish Education, the coordinating council of all universities and colleges in the United States and Canada with programs in Jewish education. As the initial director of JCC Association’s Mandel Center for Jewish Education, Dr. Mars created a variety of programs for JCC campers, camp directors, and adult members of JCCs that exposed them to the vitality and richness of Jewish culture.

The Frank L. Weil Awards were established in 1950 in the name of JCC Association’s late leader, who served with brilliant distinction as president of the Jewish Welfare Board from 1940 to 1950. They are presented for distinguished contributions to the two different aspects of the Jewish Community Center field-serving the whole Jewish community and caring for Jews in the military. Recipient of the 2012 Weil Award for service to the JCC field, Alan P. Solow is the past chair of JCC Association and the former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. A partner in DLA Piper LLP, he has also served as a director of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Jewish Federations of North America. Past president and director for life of JCC Chicago, Solow began his communal involvement at the Jewish Council for Youth Services more than thirty years ago and has long been a passionate supporter of the JCC Movement. He was inducted into the JCC of Chicago Hall of Fame Heritage Society in 2006 and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Jewish Council for Youth Services.

The Frank L. Weil Award for service to Jews in the military is being presented to Noreen Gordon Sablotsky, chair of the JCC Association committee on services to the military. Past president of the Dave & Mary Alper JCC in Miami, Florida, and themother of a U.S. Navy veteran, Sablotsky has been a member of the JCC Association board for more than ten years and chaired the 2008 JCCs of North America Biennial in Miami. She recently participated in two days of high level briefings and consultation on matters of military policy and the support of religious communities in the military with generals, flag officers, the Under Secretary of Defense, a renowned legal scholar, and the director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. Sablotsky worked with JWB on the effort to establish a monument to fallen Jewish chaplains in Arlington National Cemetery.  “It was with great pride that I was in Arlington National Cemetery for the dedication of the memorial for Jewish chaplains,” she said.

Sablotsky is also involved with Yemin Orde Youth Village, an Israeli residential school for disadvantaged and immigrant youth who cannot live with their families for various reasons, and a start-up incubator in Nazareth to create opportunities for Israeli Arab entrepreneurs. Her prior awards include Israel Bonds Technology Award, and the Stanley C Meyer leadership Award.

The Florence G. Heller Award was established in 1968 to honor the memory of JCC Association’s beloved former leader, and it is presented to an exceptional JCC professional at each Biennial. The award gives recognition to contributions that enrich the totality and breadth of professional practice and knowledge.This year’s recipient, Buddy Sapolsky, has been the president of the JCC of Greater Baltimore since 1995. A native of Pittsburgh, he received his B.A. and M.S.W. from the University of Pittsburgh. During his professional career, he has worked at JCC’s in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Miami in a variety of capacities. Prior to coming to Baltimore, he was the associate executive director of the St. Louis JCC. Sapolsky is the recipient of the Fred A. Goldstein Memorial Service Award for Outstanding Professional Leadership and Service to the Jewish Community of St. Louis. He also was awarded the Daniel Thurz Distinguished Jewish Communal Professional Service Award from the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development in Baltimore. He has provided the JCC field with a shining example of what a professional leader can and should be and richly deserves this honor.

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