Ellen Braitman & David Shapiro
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Ellen and David were introduced at a Shabbat lunch soon after each had spent a year at Pardes in Jerusalem. It was a Jewish love story: Falling for each other because, among many things, they had a passion for Jewish learning, Jewish communities, the Upper West Side and whitefish salad.

When they started dating, David was dabbling with the idea of leading a modern Orthodox life. Ellen, on the other hand, made it clear that if he wanted to date her, he had to date Minyan M’at at Ansche Chesed. “Won’t that make dates rather expensive?” he wanted to know. But walking into that sixth-floor space and meeting the amazing people (especially the children), was a revelation: In everything, it takes a village. Or in this case, a beautiful urban shtetl.

Ellen became a member of the Troika (later serving a second tour) and brought her formidable administrative skills to bear. She even once drove out to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to pick up a trunk full of books that had been re-bound to ensure their safe return to the shul (and save a few hundred dollars in shipping costs) and has chaired the M’at high holiday committee. 

For David, it was the thrill of programming, and he spearheaded two mega-issue gatherings: “Growing up Minyan,” and “Are We A Holy Congregation?” Together they gave divrei Torah, hosted mix-n-match Shabbat meals, sat on committees, raised money for capital campaigns and sat on the AC Board.  

Hirsch Hall (and the gym) have been central to their family. It’s where Ellen and David had their aufruf, as well as the baby namings and b'nai mitzvah of their daughters — Lilith and Basha.

Ellen’s passion for Jewish communal service cannot be limited to the building at the corner of 100th Street and West End Avenue: She has spent years on the Board of the Hebrew Free Loan Society and is its incoming Chair – a position formerly held by fellow honoree Vivian Mamelak. (David Shapiro, for his part, makes sure that the clicker for the TV can be found when Ellen comes home from meetings and he’s sound asleep.)

It has been a joy and privilege to give time and energy to Minyan M’at and Ansche Chesed. And, heaven knows, David and Ellen have gotten more from the community than they could ever hope to give to it.
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