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October 10, 2014  RSS feed
Social Services

Text: T T T

Beth-El lecture series to feature feminist benefactor


Barbara Dobkin Barbara Dobkin Barbara Dobkin, a preeminent Jewish feminist philanthropist of her time, will deliver a social justice Shabbat on Friday, Nov. 14 at Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg as the fourth lecture in the Leif Nissen Social Justice Lecture Series.

Dobkin’s lecture topic is, “If not now - when? Building a just future for women worldwide.” Shabbat services begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be immediately followed by the lecture at 8:15 p.m. There will be an oneg afterwards, and the entire program is free and open to the community. Temple Beth-El is at 400 S. Pasadena Ave. in St. Petersburg.

In her pursuit of full equality and integration of women’s issues into every aspect of Jewish life, Dobkin co-founded Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC Manhattan, and has served as the chair of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the Jewish Women’s Archive, and the Hadassah Foundation. She has been a pioneering donoractivist on Jewish gay and lesbian issues, progressive Israeli organizations, and programs that encourage women to become independent philanthropists.


The late Leif Nissen for whom the lecture series was named The late Leif Nissen for whom the lecture series was named Her earliest volunteer involvements included activities in New York at her local PTA, the League of Women Voters, the Yonkers battered women’s shelter, Westchester Jewish Community Services, Scarsdale UJA Women’s Campaign and capital campaign, and the UJA-Federation of New York.

The social justice lecture series is named in memory of Leif Andrew Nissen, son of Karen Lieberman and Bruce Nissen, who died in an automobile crash in 2008.

“Since Leif had been the one to find St. Pete for us, and had encouraged my son Jared, my husband and I to move here, I wanted to do something more permanent for Leif in St. Pete,” Lieberman said. “It was also important to me that I find something ‘social justice oriented’ because Leif had wanted to get more involved in social justice activities in St Pete, but he was waiting for us to move here. Unfortunately, we did not get here in time.”

She explained that because the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism applies the insights of Jewish tradition to issues such as human rights, civil liberties and poverty, she approached Rabbi Michael Torop at Temple Beth El, where she had become a member, and in conjunction with the Social Action Committee at the temple, the Leif Nissen Social Justice Lecture Series was born.

The first lecture in 2013 featured Mary Beth Maxwell, assistant secretary of Labor, who spoke on worker’s rights, followed by a two-part presentation, co-sponsored by the Florida Holocaust Museum, that focused on “farm slavery” operations and a program that has mobilized rabbis, cantors and tens of thousands of American Jews to protect human rights in North America and Israel.


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