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2015-05-22 digital edition

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May 22, 2015  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Mark's Mensches

David Bernstein

Work-Life balance. It’s nearly cliché today but I hear friends, family, and associates talking about it all the time. How do you possibly get done all the things you want (or need) to get done?

The most successful people I’ve met over my career are those that challenge themselves to take on more and more and see what they can accomplish. These same people are also very good at saying no. The key, I’ve learned, is only saying yes to those things you are passionate about and that are in line with your beliefs and values. I firmly believe that if you feel strongly enough about getting something done, you almost always will.

There are many very busy professionals out there but physicians are arguably one group with the greatest of demands on their time and mental resources. They’re often on call even when they’re “off the clock”. They’re thinking about their patients even when they’re far from the office or hospital. Many are dealing with life and death issues on a regular basis. Oy!

That’s why I’m so impressed by the Federation’s Maimonides Society – a group of Jewish physicians who generously give of their time and treasure to support the Federation and our Jewish community. As an excellent example, I’m pleased to present our latest addition to the growing cadre of Mark’s Mensches: Dr. David Bernstein.

Helping others, through both his volunteer work in the community and his career, is an integral part of David Bernstein’s life. It’s also something he grew up knowing.

“This was the model I had. My father was involved in Jewish causes for as long as I can remember. I saw that this was a part of our lives and it is what we do,” David says.

He has followed in his father’s path by being involved in a variety of community organizations and boards. He started his involvement in the Jewish community by serving on the board of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, where he continues to be active. He served as chair of the board on two separate occasions for four-year terms and has traveled to national meetings to learn how things are done elsewhere.

“I get to meet people and see things that I never would have known. And Florida is such a big part of what is being done as a whole,” he says.

David served a two year stint on the Florida Holocaust Museum board and currently is serving on the Menorah Manor board as well.

David and his wife, Melissa, have also served as co-chairs of the Maimonides Society division of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties for the past two years, a position that fits well with his professional career. David serves on the Federation board of directors as well in his capacity as Maimonides Society co-chair.

Professionally, too, David has spent his life helping others. He is an internist and geriatrician who specializes in the aging population. He has practiced in the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years.

“It’s wonderful to me that as a physician, I get to cure and heal people. It’s also a wonderful experience when I go to board meetings and look at those in attendance and see that they are able to have that same experience. It’s one of the most gratifying parts of being involved in the community.”

David recently wrote a book titled, I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: YOU’RE OLD: Tales of a Geriatrician, What to expect in your 60s, 70s, 80s, and Beyond, that will help readers live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

As David was writing the book, his inherent Jewish values became very much a part of the content.

As he shares his secrets about living a happier, healthier, longer life, it is clear that his acronym GRACE is very applicable to leading a life as a mensch. Setting Goals or having a purpose in life, knowing your (Jewish) Roots, having a positive Attitude or expressing gratitude, having Companionship and interacting in a healthy way with your Environment, all turn out to be Jewish values.

Perhaps most indicative of his desire to serve the community and bring others together is an ongoing Friday night Shabbat dinner David and Melissa, have created and host.

Once a month they invite friends from across the Tampa Bay area to their home to share a Shabbat dinner. Most of those invited have already raised their family and this is a way to share fellowship, observe Jewish traditions, and enjoy lively conversation.

“Melissa is a great cook and I make my grandmother’s chicken soup. I even get a chance to present a light d’var Torah. The evening has been a big hit and everyone leaves full of delicious food, spirituality, and a sense of connectivity.”

Family, too, has always been at the core of what he does for the father of four. He works hard to illuminate the importance of Jewish values and giving back.

“I’ve been a role model as my father was to me. I try to teach them about that. We need a cohesive Jewish community. We need to stick together and maintain those bonds. We need to maintain an identity within our Jewish community.”

I believe this is the epitome of work-life balance. David has a very successful medical practice, but still manages to serve the community in a very significant way. I further believe that he makes it happen because it’s that important to him. Thank you, David.

So the next time you find yourself thinking you’re too busy to give back, perhaps ask yourself what your priorities are and what’s important enough for you to make the time – no matter what.

Your community, Jewish and secular, needs you. I encourage you to find your passion and make a difference. You’ll be glad you did!

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