For generations, Jewish Buffalo has been led by many volunteer leaders who looked beyond themselves to the broader community and the importance of working toward a strong present and a brighter tomorrow. This week, at Temple Beth Tzedek’s annual meeting, Jacob Gewurz was voted in as a new member to the synagogue’s Board of Trustees. His ascension marks a new era for the synagogue, as he is among a younger generation who came of age in Jewish Buffalo when his native Temple Beth El (Buffalo’s oldest synagogue, founded 175 years ago) merged with Temple Shaarey Zedek to form Temple Beth Tzedek, the region’s Conservative synagogue.
Reflecting on joining the synagogue Board, Jacob notes, “I saw how much it meant to my dad in his work as president. It showed me a lot.”
Jacob is from a very special Western New York family, as his parents, Pam and Andy Gewurz have been proud Buffalonians for decades–with Andy a past president of TBT –as well as his grandparents, Dr. Barry A. Weinstein, the former Supervisor for the Town of Amherst, and the late Lois Weinstein.
“I have warm memories growing up in the Jewish community,” Jacob recalls. “From synagogue to the Hebrew High School. Then as a student with Hillel of Buffalo to my time today with Nickel City Jews and Temple Beth Tzedek,” he adds.
One high school experience that led him toward his accounting career path dates to a Hebrew High program (a predecessor of the Buffalo Jewish Teen Initiative) led by Jill Komm. A group of Jewish teens would meet weekly and Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies designated some funds that the students would research and discuss different charities to choose to donate to. Jacob enjoyed the research and he subsequently majored in Accounting at the University at Buffalo and then earned a master’s degree from Canisius College in Forensic Accounting, an industry he now works in.
In college, he was the vice president of Social Programming at Hillel of Buffalo. “My best friends from college were from Hillel and it was exciting organizing events for students, such as a Shabbaton in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and a wine tour through Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as a Bills game, especially when Laura Hemlock was the director,” he fondly recalls.
Today, Jacob channels some of that experience as he recently hosted a Shabbat dinner for Nickel City Jews at his apartment in downtown Buffalo. His accounting experience also introduced him to synagogue governance as he assisted Temple Beth Tzedek Treasurer Lisa Kovel on the recent audits of the Temple’s finances.
When the call came this spring asking him to join the synagogue board, “I was very surprised by the call, but I was proud to accept,” he notes. Jacob has been reading from the Torah during the High Holidays pre-COVID, and now his service at Temple will extend from the Bimah (lectern) to the Board.
Many thanks to Ezra N. Rich for submitting today’s Spotlight.