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2014-11-21 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


November 21, 2014  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Mark’’s Mensches

Barry Alpert
Mark Segel
Executive Director The Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties

Mensch. It’s a term that most of us are familiar with yet it’s frequently overused or simply used incorrectly. What is a mensch? In general, it means a good person. More specifically, it’s a person of integrity and honor. A person with a sense of what is right and wrong and one who feels an obligation to do what is right.

Here in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, we are so fortunate to live in a community ripe with so many mensches. They are our mostly unsung heroes who do good without the expectation of recognition. While this humility is honorable, I believe were missing a valuable opportunity to share their important stories and to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

Beginning with this issue, we’ll be profiling a special individual each edition of the Jewish Press so that their stories can be told. We’ll also use this space to share stories about how your Jewish Federation is helping grow and strengthen our Jewish community.

Barry Alpert Barry Alpert If you have someone in mind you think we should interview, please contact me at my below e-mail address. With this issue, we’re pleased to premiere “Mark’s Mensches” with an interview of one of our more well-known community members, Barry Alpert, who I believe may be doing more to improve the quality of our lives in Tampa Bay then you now realize.

From the moment you first talk to Barry Alpert you can’t help but notice his enthusiasm for life. You can hear the smile on his face and excitement in his voice when he talks about ways he has been involved in the Tampa Bay community. The reason is seemingly simple, “I’m so grateful for what I have and for my family. I’m so lucky, I have to give back. I feel good when I give to others.”

But the answer goes beyond that. What could be a simple explanation of why he is involved in the community quickly shows itself as a life philosophy. “Every day is a new opportunity and you can make the decision of doing good or not.” This philosophy has led him to give and help others in so many ways.

Barry is a first generation American whose father came from Russia to Chicago in 1911. “Because of the wisdom of my father I am a free man today. I live in a world where you can live your dream. They came with nothing. Today, I am paying back the good fortune that has been bestowed on me.”

Growing up and living in Chicago, it was easy for Barry and his wife Judith to take for granted all that was available in the city. But once they moved to the Pinellas County, they quickly saw that it was a small town with little in the way of entertainment or industry – but a lot in the way of opportunity. They originally lived in Seminole and then moved to North Redington Beach in 1996.

Barry had always had a dream of opening a bank and wanted to open a stock savings and loan bank that is owned by shareholders. At that time, stock savings and loan weren’t allowed so Barry set about writing the enabling legislation.

It took five years, but when the legislation passed it was one of the highlights of Barry’s life. “I remember exactly what I wore that day and exactly what I did.” From those efforts, Life Savings and Loan, located in Clearwater, was created. Barry eventually sold his ownership interest in the institution.

Barry also served his career as President and CEO of many life insurance companies. Today he is Senior Vice President of Investments for Raymond James and puts that same passion and enthusiasm to work for his clients.

But beyond his professional success, Barry is most proud of his family, and his goals are clear. “We not only live in a neighborhood, we live in a region, and it needs to focus on workforce issues so my grandchildren and others will want to stay here and not move to Chicago or New York when they grow up. We can only become a region if we are connected.”

His wife, three children and six grandchildren inspire him to make a difference in the community. “The future is in the hands of our children and the only way to inspire them to make a difference is by example.” By the end of the year all of the children and grandchildren will be living in Pinellas County.

He has done this and continues to do so by hugely impacting the community since he first came to the area. He was the second president of Menorah Manor; was actively involved in bringing the Florida Holocaust Museum to the area; was a chair of WEDU-TV/PBS; sat on the board of directors of the Kapok Tree Restaurants and influenced the decision to donate that land to Ruth Eckerd Hall, which he later chaired as well; and is the current chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership. He has also been involved in our Pinellas County Jewish Community Center, Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater, the Tampa-Orlando-Pinellas Jewish Foundation, All Children’s Hospital and many other non-profit organizations.

Tampa Bay has been good to Barry and he has been good to Tampa Bay.

“When I came here the community needed so much. It’s a small community, it’s a neighborhood. Here, we know the mayors and they know you. That couldn’t happen in Chicago. You can make a difference here and I wanted to make a difference.”

Know a mensch? Contact or call the Federation office, (727) 530-3223.

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