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The Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to individuals who have “over the years, exemplified extraordinary dedication, devotion, adherence to, and activity in the Secular Humanistic Judaism Movement and the philosophical doctrines enunciated by the Movement’s founder, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine.” The award, established by SHJ and Kol Hadash, Northern California, past president Bert Steinberg in 2003 in honor of Wine’s 75th birthday, represents Steinberg’s heartfelt gratitude at finding a Humanistic Jewish community that reflected his lifelong philosophy and unfulfilled need. Steinberg joined SHJ and became bar mitzvah at the age of 72 under Wine’s tutelage.
A permanent plaque bearing the image of Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine is on display at the SHJ’s headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. A smaller replica is given each year to the recipient, along with a personal gift of Judaica.
Andrea Friedlander, a member of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Lincolnshire, IL, served on the SHJ Board and Executive Committee from 2009 to this day, and as President from 2012-2014. In describing Andrea’s accomplishments and contributions, Rabbi Miriam Jerris highlighted Andrea’s generosity with time and energy, her work ethic, her persistence, and her patience with others as characteristics that enabled SHJ to overcome some of the most difficult challenges a non-profit organization faces. Andrea always maintained her good humor and rationality, and her friends on the board were always grateful to her for her friendship and the case of wine she brought to every meeting. In accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, Andrea cited the friendships she forged as the most significant reward of her involvement in SHJ.
Larry M. Lawrence, a member of Machar, The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism in D.C., served on the SHJ Board and Executive Committee since 2010, as a Member at-large, Vice President, President and Past President. He currently serves as the chair of the Finance Committee and the Nominating Committee. Larry served the SHJ during very challenging times. His dedication and commitment to transparency and financial integrity are the hallmarks of his tenure on the SHJ Board. In her presentation Rabbi Miriam Jerris proclaimed that Larry Lawrence demonstrated incomparable dedication and commitment to the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the movement and exemplified serious preparation and unmitigated competency in the work he did for the Society, making him a most worthy recipient of this award.
Dana and Rick Naimark, founders of Or Adam Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Phoenix, Arizona, are both past presidents of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. They joined the Society for Humanistic Judaism Board of Directors in 1989 and 1990, respectively. In the congregation, Dana served as membership chair for many years, as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah mentor, and as the leader of and speaker at many holiday services, as well as presiding at funerals and memorials. Rick was the principal of Or Adam’s Sun Light School and brought musical beauty to the congregation as the choir leader, soloist and piano accompanist. Dana and Rick have consistently modeled an immeasurable commitment and generosity to Or Adam and the Society for almost thirty years.
Ruth Duskin Feldman of Highland Park, IL, has shown her commitment to Humanistic Judaism since it formed in Illinois in the mid-1960s. Ordained as a Madrikha (Humanistic Jewish clergy) in 1993, Ruth Feldman is an active member of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Lincolnshire, IL. She has served as creative editor of the Society’s journal Humanistic Judaism for more than three decades. She has supported her local community, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, and Humanistic Judaism, showing her creativity, understanding, and dedication as a teacher and leader within the Humanistic Jewish movement.
Esther and Ron Milan were early members of The Birmingham Temple. Ron has served on the Board of the Society for Humanistic Judaism since the early ’80s, serving as treasurer for nearly three decades. Esther and Ron consistently promote initiatives to create greater visibility for Humanistic Judaism, most recently through the Library of Secular Humanistic Judaism on the web. The library in the Pivnick Center bears their name. The Milans have championed the production of the intellectual bounty of Secular and Humanistic Judaism by supporting the publication of many key books for the movement. As catalysts of change, Esther and Ron have pioneered weekly webcasts featuring news, Torah study, and Jewish history from a Secular Humanistic Jewish prospective. Their heads, hearts, and feet are all in the same place and all in the right place for Humanistic Judaism.Humanistic Judaism.
Lou Altman was the president of the Society for Humanistic Judaism for six years. He is a member of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Sarasota, Florida, and serves on its board. He also is a member of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Illinois. Altman has the distinction of serving on more humanist organizational boards of directors, including the Secular Coalition for America, than any other single person, demonstrating an unparalleled commitment to the SHJ and Humanistic Judaism.
Deb Godden, a madrikha and a member of Machar, Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism, was the long-time SHJ Secretary. At Machar she used her skills to create a booklet for Shabbat and served as the ceremonial leader in the rabbi’s absence. As the chair of the SHJ Education Committee and a technological guru ahead of her time, she established online resources and led the way for educators to communicate with one another about their Sunday school work through an educators’ listserv. Deb improves the community and the world everywhere she goes, reaching out to many aspects of the community to share her passion for and knowledge of Humanistic Judaism.
Shari Gelber is a past president of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and founding member of Kahal B’raira, Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. She joined the Society for Humanistic Judaism Board of Directors in 1995, and by 1997 she was serving on its Executive Committee. In 2000, when the president resigned, she stepped in as President. She served in that role for more than two years. In 2009, when the past president died suddenly, she again stepped up, returning to the position of Past President. Shari Gelber models ethical volunteerism, encouraging others to fulfill the responsibilities they have accepted.
Bonnie Cousens is the Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the Managing Editor of its journal, Humanistic Judaism. She is a Madrikha (professionally trained clergy), a member of the Boards of Directors of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism and the Secular Coalition for America. Bonnie’s commitment, dedication, and participation in so much of what the Humanistic Jewish Movement does establishes her as the most reliable source of corporate memory the movement has. Her organizational talent, superior analytic ability, and wise counsel helped professionalize the movement organizations for more than three decades. In presenting the award it was noted that Bonnie Cousens lives her values and commitments in deed as well as word. She puts her entire being into promoting and securing the future of Humanistic Judaism.
Jane Goldhamer was the founder of Kol Shalom Community for Humanistic Judaism in Portland, Oregon. Meeting Sherwin Wine at a lecture in Dayton, Ohio, in 1978, Jane and her husband, Mike, joined the SHJ immediately as individual members. After moving to Portland in 1985 and finding no Humanistic Jewish option, Jane and her family joined a reform congregation, but when she received notice of a SHJ Western Regional Conference to be held in Northern California in 1993, she jumped at the opportunity. And when she lamented that there was no local option in Portland, we said, “Start one” and she did just that. Jane served on the SHJ Board of Directors for many years, offering inspiration to all with whom she spoke. In honoring Jane, we noted that she “epitomizes the ideal volunteer, combining dedication, intelligence, talent, passion, and competency… Jane attracted a nucleus of loyal devoted individuals who now form one of our strongest and most creative communities.”
As founding members of the Birmingham Temple, the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Lorraine and Ben Pivnick generously funded projects foundational to the future of the philosophy and movement. They were instrumental in securing the parcel of land on which the Birmingham Temple and the Pivnick Center for Humanistic Judaism now resides. The Pivnicks initiated a challenge grant that resulted in the completion of the Pivnick Center that houses the Birmingham Temple school, the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the Institute’s Milan Library. They established the Pivnick Community Development Fund that enabled the Society to subsidize the start-up costs for communities to hire rabbis. At Rabbi Wine’s 65th Birthday, Ben, in his tribute to Sherwin Wine, quipped, “Sherwin founded and I funded.”
Miriam Jerris is the rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Ordained in 2001 by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Jerris is the Past President of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and first executive director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Jerris was also the first director of the IISHJ rabbinic program and now serves on the Institute’s faculty. Joining the Birmingham Temple before she had children, Miriam was by Rabbi Wine’s side as he established the Leadership Conference for Secular and Humanistic Jews, the International Federation for Secular and Humanistic Jews, the beginning of the connections in Israel, the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, the North American Committee for Humanism, and The Humanist Institute. Upon presenting the award, Rabbi Wine reflected on the long history between himself and Rabbi Jerris, reaching back to her Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation in Windsor, Ontario.
Bert Steinberg, the second recipient of the STW Lifetime Achievement Award, is the past president of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and of Kol Hadash, Northern California. He established the Pooled Income Fund as a vehicle for financial continuity and security for the SHJ. He is the past president of the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews and the Leadership Conference for Secular and Humanistic Jews. After a course of study, he became a madrikh, a ceremonial leader. In receiving the award, Bert was described as a person of action, a man of vision and a man of great generosity.
Marilyn Rowens was the first recipient of the Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. She was the longest running volunteer, contributing her creativity and energy to Humanistic Judaism for more than 37 years. As a member of the Birmingham Temple, the first congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Marilyn was involved in every part of the Humanistic Jewish movement, from creating its first Sunday school texts and humanist dramas to the establishment of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. She was instrumental in the creation of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism to train rabbis and leaders and served as its first executive director. She also helped establish the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, a worldwide organization that was based in New York City and Jerusalem.