Sun Tran ride guide, and the Tucson Arts Brigade

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I worked with Michael B. Schwartz, director of the Tucson Arts Brigade, while writing for the Arizona Daily Star. When we first met, Schwartz spoke about a mural arts program he was trying to launch with the support of city leaders. The program had two goals; abate graffiti and beautify the city. He brightened, smiling wide, we he described his idea and worked laboriously to make it come alive.

Around the time these eight murals were completed, the city was looking for some photos of the successful, civically engaging project — and more specifically the local transit authority was designing its new schedule. Sun Tran wanted some shots and Schwartz says he knew who to call.

To see this program take off is one thing, but to play a small role in promoting this wonderful and invaluable project is another.

Making their mark: Tucson Hebrew Academy alumni

In his 1971 Yom Kippur sermon, Rabbi Arthur R. Oleisky of Congregation Anshei Israel called for the formation of a Jewish day school in Tucson. Rising to the challenge, Bertie and the late Jack Levkowitz and David and Judy Leonard joined the rabbi and his wife, Betejoy, as the nucleus of a committee that soon swelled to include many other families. In fall 1973, Tucson Hebrew Academy began with 42 children in four grades.

In celebration of the High Holiday, the Arizona Jewish Post chose to highlight a dozen THA students with remarkable careers.

President Barack Obama visits Linamar Corporation in Arden, N.C., the day after delivering his State of the Union address, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Josh Lederman boards Air Force One At Andrews Air Force Base for a trip with President Barack Obama to Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Josh Lederman)

Josh Lederman, White House reporter for the Associated Press, has been covering Pennsylvania Avenue and traveling the globe alongside President Barack Obama since July 2012. Witnessing high-pressure, historic events unfold in real time is “awesome in the awe sense of the word,” he says. “It’s been an incredible experience.”

Lederman, 31, has always been interested in international politics and becoming a foreign correspondent, so joining the White House press corps was a perfect fit.

Read the entire Lederman article here.

Isaac Greenberg with his wife, Felicia, and son, Noah. (Photo courtesy of Isaac Greenberg)

Isaac Greenberg with his wife, Felicia, and son, Noah. (Photo courtesy of Isaac Greenberg)

Isaac Greenberg, a solution engineer at Deloitte, a business consulting firm, says Tucson Hebrew Academy provides its students a strong sense of family and of the importance of community service.

“And doing something without recognition is one the most honorable life experiences,” says Greenberg.

Greenberg, 33, who grew up in Tucson, attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., graduating in 2005. Two weeks into his studies at West Point, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks shocked the United States and put the military academy on guard.

Read the entire Greenberg article here.

Howard Levkowitz with, from left, Olivia, wife Elayne, Ella, Jack and Julia at Jack’s bar mitzvah in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Bertie Levkowitz)

Howard Levkowitz with, from left, Olivia, wife Elayne, Ella, Jack and Julia at Jack’s bar mitzvah in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Bertie Levkowitz)

Howard Levkowitz, co-founder and CEO at Tennenbaum Capital Partners L.L.C., a venture capital and private equity firm in Los Angeles, Calif., says he is very happy to see his good friend and former classmate Jon Ben-Asher working as head of school at Tucson Hebrew Academy.

The Levkowitz’s were among the families that founded THA, and getting the school up and running took a vast amount of time, energy and resources, he says.

“It was always part of my life and it was very important to the family,” says Levkowitz. “[THA] was something they were very committed to and remained very committed to.”

Read the entire Levkowitz article here.

 

Lindsey Baker at graduation from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Baker)

Lindsey Baker at graduation from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Baker)

Lindsey Baker, director of program development at Feeding America, says millions of fond memories flood her thoughts when she recalls her time at Tucson Hebrew Academy. But most important is the powerful feeling of belonging to a community that still resonates today.

“THA gave me a sense of identity and community,” says Baker. “And I think it gives you an educational foundation, a Jewish foundation, but most importantly a community foundation.”

Read the entire Baker article here.

Originally published on Sept. 23, 2016.

Exploration of justice kicks off Jewish History Museum chats

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Cantor Avraham Alpert at the Holocaust History Center at the Jewish History Museum Sept. 2.

Driving one of Tucson’s new Israeli teen emissaries, Leah Avuno, from a lunch and learn on the University of Arizona campus to her next destination, Cantor Avraham Alpert found his talking point. Avuno, originally from Ethiopia, told him Ethiopian Jews would never have made it to Israel if it weren’t for the American Jews who funded their aliyah. Then she asked why American Jews cared about the plight of her people.

He answered by telling Avuno about the role of U.S. Jews in the civil rights movement and the parallels between blacks and Jews as victims of discrimination. They spoke about Jews of color in Israel, Ethiopia and Uganda. It was only later that Alpert, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bet Shalom, came up with a simpler answer: The Torah has always tasked the Jews with bringing justice to the world.

Find the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Original publication date Sept. 9, 2016.