REFLECTIONS FROM 2019 SWEET SOUNDS HONOREE FAMILIES
Fialkow Sternberg Family
Linda Sternberg, Co-Chair"I am so lucky to have a family that believes in giving back. Throughout our childhood and young adulthood, my dad, Jay, (known to all as 'Papa') and my late mom, Jane, reminded my sister, brother and I how lucky we are. My parents instilled in us the importance of giving of ourselves emotionally and financially to support others in our community.I took that lesson to heart when I became a special educator. My career is a gift that allows me the opportunity to support children to be the best they can be, and I am privileged to hold the hands and hearts of parents navigating the special education process. And in giving my time to Gateways, I am marrying my love of Judaism with my passion for special education.At 67, I feel truly blessed. I have two sons, Michael and Matthew; a daughter-in-law, Vanessa; and a daughter –in- law to be, McKay, who are my universe and who share my passion for giving back. My 92-year-old father is truly my best friend. I love what I do professionally. I am happy and healthy. What more could I ask for?"
"Now that I am an ‘Old Jew’, I am so appreciative of the care and love I receive. At age 92, I am particularly grateful for the care and love I get from my friends and family and most especially from my beautiful daughter, Linda."
Ethan Freishtat, Co-Chair
My parents taught my brother, sister and me to think about what life would be like in someone else’s shoes, and I credit them with teaching us to deeply respect others’ feelings and experiences. For me, this has meant embodying the idea of treating others the way I would like to be treated. And together with my wife, Erica, we are passing this understanding on to our son, Dylan. I cannot express how proud we were when Dylan’s teachers at Rashi shared with us that Dylan was the child in the class who always noticed a classmate sitting alone and consistently made an effort to reach out. This is empathy!
Every person has visible and invisible challenges, and when we use empathy as a compass to orient our world, we give ourselves permission to see and recognize others. Instead of sitting in judgment, we begin our interactions with a desire and a willingness to help. As a result, we become better listeners and better global citizens, individuals poised to take compassionate action.
Jackie Finard Hughes, Co-Chair"By teaching us to understand and appreciate differences, without realizing it, our parents where sowing the seeds of compassion. Today, we endeavor to carry those lessons forward with our own children by teaching them their obligation to repair the world and helping them to develop compassion for family, friends, community and strangers alike.Compassion has been an important value that has guided my family and has guided me personally. Through my work as a speech-language pathologist, I developed immense compassion for those who were unable to communicate effectively and took great pride in giving them a voice. As parents, Rob and I have tried to teach empathy and compassion to our two girls, Molly and Izzie. As they have grown and had their own interactions with friends and others, they, too, have developed compassion, which has allowed them to be better friends and members of our community.Compassion is a value that both Rob and I try to model, instill in our children and live by each day. We feel that this value has provided a foundation of support within our family to allow us to attempt to live impactful lives pursuing change in those things that hold the most meaning to us."
Kaplan Weisskopf Family
Marc Weisskopf"Acceptance, in the context of people, often is intertwined with an anger, disappointment, or just a feeling that things are not the way you wanted or expected them to be. True acceptance is not about papering over or hiding those feelings, but it is about coming to terms with them; recognizing that they are often as much, if not more, about you than the other person. This acceptance then allows you to truly see the other for who they are, allowing you to connect with them much more deeply."
Noah Weisskopf, Gateways Teen Volunteer Alumnus"My family never raised me to embrace the value of acceptance. Rather, they raised me to embrace the lifestyle of accepting.Acceptance as a noun, an object, is asked for and granted and encompasses only a brief moment in time. Accepting as a verb, an action, is lived and experienced.Understanding the action of accepting means understanding that others' comfort and ability to thrive relies on the decisions that I make and the things that I choose to do. By accepting, I am constantly and continuously allowing people into my life and my experiences, while, simultaneously, I am given the opportunity to view their life and see their experiences.I am a better person because I live my life by accepting, and I know that I always need to be better because I live my life by accepting."
Sharon Shapiro, Co-Chair"Our father, Mort Ruderman, recognized that exclusion is incompatible with our Jewish values, including the value of b’tzelem Elohim. Our family combined these ideals with our innovative approach to philanthropy to focus our efforts on creating an inclusive society in which all are valued for their uniqueness.Designing and implementing creative and novel programs has brought much joy to our family, as all of our work is grounded in our goal to offer unique and refreshing ideas and programs to society. Innovation is a core priority for us, whether that be in our work in the local Jewish community, the Hollywood entertainment industry or in the college mental health landscape.Through our work with Gateways, we are teaching all children, with and without disabilities, about inclusion as central to our Jewish values. We are raising a generation of Jewish children who demand inclusion because they understand how it connects to social justice, civil rights, Jewish continuity and diversity. These children are our future leaders, and they will ensure that through inclusion, our community achieves its full potential."