Judith & Neil Grand
Judith and Neil joined Temple Israel Center nineteen years ago when they moved from NYC to White Plains with their young children. They immediately formed enduring friendships with other families in the Nursery School and later with TIC families in the Schechter/Leffell School community that will last a lifetime. They were occasional shul- goers until their daughter asked them to become regular ones. They did, and realized how wonderful it was to spend Saturday mornings learning, praying and, of course, schmoozing during Kiddush.
Judith has helped improve the lives of those around her through many initiatives, within TIC and beyond. She is a member of the Hungry and Homeless committee and managed the ‘food volunteer’ program that collected food from volunteers in the congregation and delivered it to a Yonkers soup kitchen. She initiated a partnership with Lifting Up Westchester by enlisting student and adult volunteers to help prepare and serve dinner at TIC to shelter residents. For the Eat, Pray, Learn Shabbat dinner series, Judith always helped in the kitchen with the cooking. For the High Holidays, Judith worked on the Seating Committee. Judith is a co-founder of the Hesed Circle at TIC, an effort to engage and enhance the synagogue’s caring community. One of the areas covered by this initiative is Shiva Support, a committee she co-chairs, which has greatly improved logistical support for mourners. Through the Senior Connect branch of the Hesed Circle, Judith has helped coordinate support for senior members of the community – her favorite mitzvah was playing violin duets with her daughter on the lawns of TIC seniors’ homes. Judith is currently a member of the TIC Board of Trustees, was previously an honorary member, and has served on the Nominating Committee. She was awarded the WJC Julian Y. Bernstein Distinguished Service Award in 2019.
Judith grew up on Long Island and went to Harvard College, studying Applied Math/Computer Science. Her career has been in financial software, primarily for Wall Street firms in NY and London. She currently works for Citigroup. She has served as Treasurer on the Leffell School PTO board for the past 11 years. Judith’s favorite extracurricular activity is playing and enjoying music. She plays the piano and is a violinist in the St. Thomas Orchestra (with several other TIC members she helped recruit).
Neil grew up in Long Island as well and went to SUNY Binghamton and then NYU where he studied Computer Science and Business. He also received an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago. Neil worked for many years in the world of Wall Street and hedge funds. Somewhere along the path, long after his children were born, Neil decided to leave the world of finance and become a high school computer science teacher. Neil has been teaching now for 5 years. Neil has always loved being part of the TIC community. He served two years on the Board of Directors and was involved with the children’s weekly parshah class when his children were younger.
Judith and Neil met while working at Merrill Lynch in London (a long way for Judith to go to meet a ‘nice Jewish boy’ from Long Island) and married in 1995. Many years ago, at the University of Chicago, Neil met visiting Rabbi Gordon Tucker at a Hillel Shabbat dinner and was taken by his erudition and Jewish genius, all the while wearing his hair long and hippy. When Judith and Neil decided to leave Manhattan and live in Westchester, they looked for a home near the Solomon Schechter School in White Plains. While scouting for synagogues, Neil saw Gordon Tucker’s picture on the TIC website and knew they would find at TIC a welcoming, warm, kind and intellectually robust Jewish community. They have been very happy living at the intersection of TIC and Schechter/Leffell ever since.
Judith and Neil raised 3 children at TIC: Aaron works as a financial analyst in NYC (but with remote work, has enjoyed rent-free living between his and his girlfriend’s childhood homes). Rachel is a senior at Bryn Mawr College, majoring in Fine Arts and Art History, and would welcome any job advice/offers! Sarah, who many of you know as a regular (and fast!) Torah reader, is a senior at the Leffell School. Neil and Judith are very proud of their children, and a silver lining of the pandemic is the extra time they’ve been able to spend with them (after working out a system to resolve the nightly fights of whose turn it was to wash the dishes).
Judith and Neil are humbled to be this year’s Gala honorees and to share the honor with Brittany and Scott. This year, in particular, the strength of TIC is inspiring, specifically because of how much hard work is being done behind-the-scenes to keep the shul running safely with so many offerings. They are so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community.