Debbie and Avi Shteingart
YOUNG LEADERSHIP AWARD
Debbie and Avi Shteingart moved to Springfield six years ago and hit the ground running—straight to Congregation Israel, a Shul both already loved, and where they eagerly stepped up to serve as leaders. In fact, service is in their collective DNA, having been raised by parents who personify the importance of chesed and community leadership.
Debbie, a co-chair of our Shul’s Membership Committee, became one of CIS’s youngest members at the age of two, when her parents Sara Youner and Howard Apsan, former Guests of Honor, moved with their family to Springfield. The pandemic has spurred Debbie and the committee to innovate new ways of introducing prospective and new Shul members to our community; this summer, for example, guests were welcomed in many backyards, and all new CIS members have been assigned mentors to help ease their transition and make personal connections possible. Debbie was also instrumental in facilitating social events like our Saturday Night at the Shul (NO@TS) and Mystery Shabbos programs, both designed to bring together members of all ages; and she has overseen activities at our annual Yemei Chesed and represented CIS at OU’s annual community fair.
Avi serves as co-chair of our Shul’s Youth Committee, which provides educational and social opportunities including Shabbos youth groups for kids aged three and older; a Young Leaders in Training program for middle school students; and an advanced leadership program for teenagers. Since the advent of the pandemic, he has helped ensure that redesigned programs, held online or outdoors, continue to connect CIS kids, while introducing an array of collaborative, at-home initiatives. Avi is especially proud of his role in expanding participation in our highly regarded Parent-Child Learning program. Previously, he served as gabbai shlishi in our main minyan, and helped the Kiddush Committee with weekly food purchases.
Debbie and Avi met at Camp HASC, where they bonded over their dedication to chesed and a desire to contribute personally to the welfare of a community in need. She was one of CIS’s first youth leaders; and after graduating from Bruriah and spending a year in Michlalah in Israel, she earned a degree in finance at Baruch College, where she was selected to participate in the Macaulay Honors Program. After successful stints as a financial analyst at Israel Discount Bank and Goldman Sachs, she now works at PGIM, Prudential’s asset management division, helping to manage the firm’s municipal bond portfolios.
Avi is a licensed psychotherapist with group practices in both Brooklyn and Springfield, where for the past 10 years he has been helping teens, young adults and adults navigate addiction, depression, anxiety and intimacy, among other issues. He is especially interested in harnessing mindfulness and spirituality to address trauma within the Jewish community. After graduating from TABC, Avi spent his gap year at Shaalavim in Israel, before earning his undergraduate at YU and his master’s degree from YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work; he received Semicha from Touro’s Lander College for Men. He began working with teens at YU as a beloved adviser to Midwest NCSY and Yachad, and spent a year doing more extensive outreach as a Madrich at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in Israel.
Like Debbie, Avi observed his parents, Lea and Sam Shteingart, devote themselves to Jewish life as founders of Young Israel of Teaneck, and as volunteers for multiple civic organizations. Debbie and Avi have committed to raising their children, Gavriel, Neima, and Amiel, with the same values their parents shared with them—and they look forward to doing all they can as a second-generation CIS family to serve our Shul and members.