Making a difference
for Jewish Buffalo and beyond.
Twice a year we feature individuals in the The Jewish Journal of WNY who we honor as Difference Makers. These are individuals of all ages and backgrounds, representing different practices of Judaism, and all making an impact in Jewish Buffalo and throughout the entire region. From doctors to artists, business leaders to social entrepreneurs, below are faces of Buffalo who are helping to make our community more vibrant and caring.
Danny Brink-Washington & Rachel Beerman
Rachel is a native Buffalonian and is working together with her husband, Danny to create a new Charter School in Buffalo, due to open in 2019.
Hadar is Program Director for UB’s Blackstone Launchpad, a campus-based entrepreneurship program, as well as UB’s Prosperity Fellowship Program, which assists students who are preparing for careers that further economic development and growth in Western New York. Hadar also co-chaired the recent and successful Hillel of Buffalo Director Search committee.
If there were a prize for biggest Buffalo Booster, Bonnie would win it hands down. A consummate real estate professional with Hunt Real Estate, Bonnie has been at the top of the list for several years in a row for selling homes in Western New York.
Dr. Marc Fineberg
In case you are wondering who is keeping the Buffalo Bills on the field and the Buffalo Sabres on the ice, it’s UBMD’s Dr. Marc Fineberg. Marc returned to Buffalo nearly 20 years ago to join UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, and the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, and is also the Bills’ and Sabres’ Team physician.
David Horesh, the newest partner in Buffalo branding agency Block Club, is one of those young people who is working to transform Buffalo into a vibrant place where many more people want to live and prosper. And through his hard work, it’s working!
Buffalo State College Theater Professor Drew Kahn founded and directs the college’s social justice-based Anne Frank Project (AFP). He has demonstrated through the AFP in numerous workshops with public school students and teachers from Buffalo to Rwanda that using stories to address thorny issues can be powerful and effective.
Holocaust Survivor and former Buffalonian Sonia Klein works to make her memory- and that of others about the Shoah—matter. She speaks to Hillel students, younger children and many other groups about her memories of the Holocaust and why it is imperative to remember and learn the lessons of the Shoah, so as not to ever repeat them again.
Nina Lukin is Bryant & Stratton’s Director of Strategic Planning and Assessment. A national Jewish Council for Public Affairs Frank Fellow, Nina traveled to Poland and Europe with other national leaders tracing the trail of darkness to light. And this year when Anti-Semitism reared its ugly head at her children’s school in Amherst, she was the first to call it out, organize a rally and tell this community that “Hate Has No Home Here.”
Hon. Lisa Bloch Rodwin
Judge Lisa Rodwin of the New York State Family Court has devoted her career as a lawyer, prosecutor and now judge, to stopping perpetrators of domestic violence, protecting the victims and dispensing fair and compassionate justice to families.
Matt Schwartz, an MSW student at UB and a social worker, created the group Food Gnomes, a traveling food pantry which brings food directly to hungry people in Buffalo. He found that many of his clients were struggling to access food pantries, so he decided to bring food to them, through Food Gnomes, a mobile food pantry. He asks people only one question: “Are you hungry?”. If the answer is yes, Food Gnomes will feed you.
Steve volunteers where most people don’t dare to tread. He has flown to New Orleans and Houston in the wake of killer hurricanes, and has traveled to Honduras as a medical aide and Haiti following a tsunami. His huge heart and sense of tikkun olam takes him to places where kindness and a little hard work go a long, long way.
“Hats off for Roswell” was our son Lewis Shaevel’s Bar Mitzvah tzedakkah project for Temple Beth Zion, where he collected more than 600 caps for Roswell patients who have lost their hair from chemotherapy. He also raised nearly $6000 on his own, “Goin’ Bald for Bucks” for Roswell with his team from Transit Middle School.
Ben is a copywriter, journalist, theater aficionado, gay rights advocate and committed Jew. He works at Block Club, the branding and strategy agency he helped to found and is passionate about enlarging Buffalo’s community footprint.
Dr. Theodore & Phyllis Steinberg
Ted and Phyllis Steinberg retired from careers at SUNY Fredonia, then headed to Buffalo to take their place as leaders of the Jewish Community. Ted teaches Yiddish literature, the Bible as literature and other subjects at the JCC and Canisius College. Phyllis has taken a leadership role in Buffalo Hadassah, and both devote a good deal of time to their shul, Kehillat Ohr Tzion.
Samantha Sugarman has a golden voice. And she is back home in Buffalo singing her heart out. A talented singer and musician, she is another young person who moved back to Buffalo to help bring the area back, and she is singing and talking about it in clubs all over Western New York.
Vilona is a Fulfillment Planner for Rich Products and a 2017 winner of Business First’s 30 Under 30. She makes a point of being actively involved in as many charities and not-for-profit organizations as she can possibly manage!
Rus Devorah Wallen
Torah scholar, psychotherapist, clinical social worker and musician, Rus Devorah Wallen has a full life! And with all she does, she always finds time and energy to welcome guests for Shabbos, holidays and simchas.
Attorney and philanthropist Wayne Wisbaum has worked his entire adult life to make Western New York a better, stronger, culturally richer place. His support and leadership has been felt by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kleinhans Music Hall, Jewish Family Service and the Soviet Jewry movement, HIAS (the national Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, among other organizations.
The oldest Difference Maker of this bunch, 90+ year old Amy Zeckhauser just keeps going, doing more good deeds. A Federation and Temple Beth Zion volunteer for decades, she recently retired from reading and tutoring kindergartners in Federation’s Buffalo Jewish Coalition for Literacy program.