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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 Ā© 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

May 8, 2015  RSS feed
Federation

Text: T T T

Mark's Mensches

Marc Silverman

L’dor vador. It’s a term that most Jews are familiar with and it’s roughly translated as “generation to generation.” Tradition is another theme that’s ubiquitous in our Jewish culture. In fact, one definition of tradition I came across actually reads: “The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.” Why is this passing on of stories, beliefs, values and more so important to the Jewish people?

Often when people ask what the Federation does, I explain that at its core the Federation is here to ensure the continuity of Jewish life and culture. We must build and strengthen the Jewish community so that our traditions will carry on for generations to come. So that the Jewish people will never be forgotten and that our many contributions as a people will continue to benefit the entire world. This is no easy task.

The future of Jewish life and culture is at risk for any number of reasons. Some of these include a growing disinterest in organized religion (not just Judaism), interfaith marriages, anti-Semitism, efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel, and just general apathy regarding the Jewish people and Israel. Never in the history of the world have we been provided so many options with respect to where we can focus our interests and efforts.

Thank goodness we still have plenty of folks who are not willing to give up the fight. You’ve read about many of them in previous columns. I’m pleased to say that there’s no shortage of people well deserving of being included as a part of Mark’s Mensches. In this edition, it’s my privilege to tell the story of Marc Silverman.

Marc has many reasons to uphold his strong ties to the Jewish community. He was active in his synagogue growing up in Providence, RI. There he served as president of the youth group. He was raised in a very traditional Jewish family, in a large close-knit Jewish community. And perhaps most importantly, was raised by a mother who is a Holocaust survivor.

“My mother, Marie, had to fight to exist as a result of her being a Jew. For me, that made being a Jew more meaningful. That she had to struggle to exist and to live. It’s always been in me to participate, help, and give back.”

That sense of community and giving back to the community was introduced to Marc at a young age. He saw his parents’ involvement in their community and how they always gave of themselves. Then, he traveled to and stayed in Israel for his bar mitzvah when he was 13.

“I was always brought up to give back to the community and be involved. It’s the upbringing my parents instilled in us. They demonstrated it through their commitment and I just realized that my role in my community is to help make sure the Jewish community exists, grows and thrives.”

Marc continues to do so in a number of ways. While at college at American University in Washington, D.C., he served as a youth advisor at his synagogue. He reprised this role when he came to Clearwater and joined Congregation Beth Shalom.

He sees his role reaching out to young people as an important way of continuing to serve and grow the Jewish community. “I do it for the continuation of the Jewish community. I want to help instill in children the experience of growing up Jewish as I had.”

Eventually he became president of Congregation Beth Shalom, serving in this position for two years and then again at a later date. In between his two terms as president, his father, Melvin, served as president as well.

In addition to his work with the synagogue, Marc has served on the board of directors of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, worked with, and supporter of Israel Bonds and the Florida Holocaust Museum, and assisted with the Pinellas County Jewish Day School, among others.

Today, his most important role is serving as a trustee for the June Baumgardner Gelbart Foundation, which provides grants to Jewish children and the elderly in need locally, as well as to Jewish children in Israel.

“Overall, I’m a big supporter of synagogue life. But whether it be volunteering through the synagogue, the Federation, or through any Jewish organization, I believe that getting involved by volunteering, giving of my time is very important.”

When he’s not volunteering, Marc is a practicing attorney in Clearwater. His husband of 13 years, Matthew Silverman, is a RealtorĀ® with Florida Executive Realty in Tampa.

Yes, these are challenging times for the Jewish people – but hasn’t it always been the case? How important is to you that our traditions carry on to future generations? What needs to be done to ensure this happens? What are you willing to do yourself? If you’re unsure what you can do, contact the Jewish Federation at (727) 530-3223 and we’ll be happy to help you identify the best way to make a real difference.

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


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