Skip to main content

The 2021 class of 18 Difference Makers

Edna Talmor Akrish, a champion of Jewish education and learning, describes herself as an unintentional teacher.

As head of The Lippman School in Akron, Sam Chestnut has helped grow the institution and shape its direction largely based on his own childhood experiences.

For Loren Chylla, a difference maker is someone passionate about their surroundings and the impact they can make on their community.

Beth Nusbaum Curtiss views herself as a catalyst of sorts, a connector who helps people find their metier in the volunteer world.

For Ronald Gross, the responsibility of a difference maker is simple – a willingness to help impact another’s life.

Maya Holtz Groys always knew she wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. She has been the development director of Milestones Autism Resources in Warrensville Heights for eight years, serving from 2011 to 2015 and again since 2019.

Amy Kaplan’s work as vice president of external affairs and director of government relations at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is central to her community involvement.

Sally and Don Messinger give back as a way to honor and enrich their adopted home of Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio area.

James Pasch has been the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League since 2019. But it was Pasch’s time as a volunteer board leader that he said had the greatest impact on the trajectory of his career.

Susan Ratner could not imagine a life not centered around philanthropy. Ratner, who is an executive committee member at the Mount Sinai Health Foundation in Cleveland, said she has worked for Jewish agencies her entire career, including 30 years at Bellefaire JCB in University Heights and 20…

Carrie Rosenfelt said she has always felt an internal drive to give back to the community.

When Steve Rudolph was looking for ways to give back to his community, he knew he wasn’t simply trying to add another line to his resume. He wanted to find somewhere he could remain active in making a difference.

Making a difference in the Jewish community is a personal mission Jeffrey D. Schwartz discovered in his more recent years.

Patricia A. Shlonsky has shattered the glass ceiling at her law firm, although she doesn’t often think about it in those terms.

Stovsky is a doctor and a surgeon, specializing in urology. As a urologist, he spent his career primarily at University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic.

Thomas Sudow, past president of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs and director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Ashland University, knows adapting is crucial.

A member of Oheb Zedek Cedar Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst, Muriel Weber was the first female president of an Orthodox congregation in Cleveland.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners Aliki and Peter Rzepka have made a positive difference in the Cleveland Jewish community for more than 50 years, where they have established, built and led some of the most important organizations in the region and beyond.

Cleveland Jewish News 18 Difference Makers alumni

Rabbi Avrohom Adler, 2020

Tom Adler, 2016

Devorah Alevsky, 2018

Mindi Axner, 2019

Justin Bachman, 2015

Mitchell Balk, 2016

Samantha Baskind, 2015

Barbara Bellin Janovitz, 2017

Martin Belsky, 2016

Ronald Berkman, 2015

Irv Berliner, 2018

Stanley Bernath, 2018

Patti, Dani and Josh Berns, 2016, Generation Award

Jack Bialosky Jr., 2015

Susan Bichsel, 2018

Andrew Brickman, 2019

Seth P. Briskin, 2016

Bart Bookatz, 2015

Mia Buchwald Gelles, 2015

Michael Cantor, 2015

Jennifer Chestnut, 2015

Jessica Cohen, 2019

Nan Cohen, 2015

Esther Cohen Hexter, 2015

Charles Daroff, 2020

Steven Dettlebach, 2016

Harlan Diamond, 2015, Lifetime Achievement Award

Gregg A. Eisenberg, 2017

Rabbi Eli Dessler & Rabbi Simcha Dessler, 2016

Art Elk, 2018

David Elk, 2018

Howard Epstein, 2016

Barry Feldman, 2015

Matthew Fieldman, 2015

Brynna Fish, 2016

Roman Frayman, 2018

Peter Freimark, 2015

Marc W. Freimuth, 2019

Debbie Friedman, 2015

Shelly Friedman, 2016

Michael Friedman, 2016

Norma Geller, 2017, Lifetime Achievement Award

David Gilbert, 2016, Civic Leadership Award

Erika Gold, 2015

Judge Francine Goldberg, 2017

Anita Gray, 2015

Roe Green, 2018, Lifetime Achievement Award

Michael Haas, 2016

Irwin and Ida Haber, 2017

Lisa Hacker, 2015

Jill Helfman, 2015

J. David Heller, 2015

Sheryl Hirsh, 2017

Michael Davis Hoenig, 2019

Ilana Hoffer Skoff, 2015

Debbie Hoffmann, 2017

Michael Horvitz, 2018

Sara Hurand, 2016

Susan R. Hurwitz, 2020

Jerry Isaak-Shapiro, 2015

Gary Isakov, 2016

Adam Jacobs, 2018

Michael Jacobson, 2017

Larry Kadis, 2015

Suellen Kadis, 2017

Eva Kahana, 2016

Ira C. Kaplan, 2019

Elizabeth Klein, 2019

Kenny Koblitz, 2020

Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein, 2018

Ruchi Koval, 2015

Joshua Kramer, 2017

Mandy Kwait, 2018

Enid Lader, 2018

David W. Leopold, 2020

Fern Ruth Levy, 2018

Keith Libman, 2016

Ken Liffman, 2017

Thomas A. Lockshin, 2019

Lawrence A. Mack, 2019

Milton and Tamar Maltz, 2019, Lifetime Achievement Award

Michal Marcus, 2019

Rabbi Yossi Marozov, 2015

Carol A. Marshall, 2020

Marc B. Merklin, 2017

Sam Miller, 2016, Lifetime Achievement Award

Barbara Miller, 2017

Jared Miller, 2019

David Millstone, 2020

Dan Moulthrop, 2019, Civic Leadership Award

Deena Nyer Mendlowitz, 2018

August "Augie" Napoli, 2019

James Newbrough, 2020

Marla Petti, 2017

Miriam Pearlmutter, 2020

Debbie Picker, 2018

Earl Pike, 2020

Hon. Dan Aaron Polster, 2018, Civic Leadership Award

Jeffrey, Lee and Zac Ponsky, 2017, Generation Award

Carole Schwartz Rendon, 2019

Margaret Richards-Frankel, 2015

David M. Rosenberg M.D., MPH, 2020

Enid Rosenberg, 2015

Debbie Rothschild, 2015

Mark Sack, 2018

Cantor Sarah Sager, 2019

Benjamin Sattin, 2015

Donald Scherzer, 2018

Bradley J. Schlang, 2015

Lane Schlessel, 2015

Mitchell C. Schneider, 2020

Lee C. Shapiro, 2018

Michael Siegal, 2016

Harvey Siegel, 2017

Scott Simon, 2017

Heidi Solomon, 2015

JodiLyn Solomon, 2020

Wendy Spitz, 2020

Erica Starrfield, 2018

Eleanor Steigman, 2017

The Stein family: Geraldine Stein, Carmie and Todd Stein, Michelle Hirsch, Rachel Weinberg, Abby Diamond and Jodi Meridieth, 2018, Generation Award

Ali Stern, 2020

Kim Strausser, 2016

Jeanne Tobin, 2016

Rabbi Zachary Truboff, 2015

Beverley Uria and Richard Uria, 2020

Roni Wallace, 2017

Steve Weinberg, 2015

Michele Weiss, 2019

Lauren Werber, 2019

Chuck Whitehill, 2015

William Wortzman, 2020

Darrell Young, 2017, Civic Leadership Award

Jerry Zahler, 2015

Dan Zelman, 2015

Sandra Zieve, 2017

18 Difference Makers coverage

  • Comments

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen more and more people making a difference, whether it be at their synagogue, business, school or with their neighbors. We expect many of those people to be nominated for the Cleveland Jewish News 18 Difference Makers class of 2021.

Difference Makers Sponsors