2020 Volunteer Awards Brunch

Sunday, October 25 at 10:30 a.m.

We had a wonderful virtual Volunteer Awards Brunch on Sunday morning. For those of you who missed it, the Zoom recording can be found below. Use passcode =V^Q0Aj4 to view recording.


Award Honorees

Lester A. Hamburg Member of the Year Award

Helen and Richard Feder

Helen and Richard Feder have been active members of Beth Shalom since they joined Beth Shalom in 1997.

Helen and Rich moved to Pittsburgh in 1980 from Cleveland. (They had lived in Pittsburgh before moving to Cleveland.)  Helen has worked as a computer software developer for the past 40 years and currently is a Principal Systems Software Engineer at Carnegie Mellon University.  Rich is semi-retired after working for over 25 years at the Port Authority as Director of Planning and now teaches as an adjunct at both Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh in the area of Transportation and Community Planning.  Helen and Rich have two wonderful daughters, Jennifer and Emily and son-in-law, Aaron Bobb (married to Jennifer) and three beautiful granddaughters, Rena, Ella and Naomi (ages 6, 3, and 10 months).   Two of Helen’s three sisters, Margaret Angel and Barbara Feuer and their families also live in Pittsburgh and are active in the Jewish community.

Rich has been active on several committees over the years at Beth Shalom.  Most recently he has volunteered with the Solar Committee and has helped work with the coordination on the grant for that project and selection of contractors for the roof replacement and solar installation.  In addition, Rich has been active with the Chesed committee for several years.  He is a regular attendee at weekly study sessions at Beth Shalom and weekday evening services. Rich also actively volunteers in the general community.

Helen has served as Sisterhood president, officer, and board member, and is currently the treasurer of Sisterhood. She has served on several nominating committees for the congregation as well as on the search committee for a transitional Rabbi after Rabbi Werbow left. Helen was an active member of the Library Minyan and served as the Torah reading coordinator for many years. Helen and Rich continue to periodically read Torah at services.

Prior to the pandemic, Rich and Helen regularly led the Wednesday evening minyan at Beth Shalom, and both have helped lead services on Shabbat and weekdays.

Nathan E. Snader Distinguished Service Award

Todd Rascoe

Todd grew up in Pittsburgh and has had a life-long commitment to the Conservative movement. Todd and his wife Batia became members of Beth Shalom when he moved back to the United States in 1995, and has been devoted to the schul ever since. Every Saturday, Todd could be seen at service with his children, Shira, Ariel, and Amallia. He has joyously led services, has read Torah, and has brought seasonally appropriate tunes to the congregation. He has been blessed to celebrate many life cycle moments – a baby naming, b’nai mitzvah, children’s USY elections, and an aufruf – with his CBS family. Todd has brought his business and organizational expertise to give back to Beth Shalom for years as a Board Member, Finance VP on the Executive Committee, and the JJEP Chairperson.

In the wider Pittsburgh Jewish community, Todd dedicated himself as a member of the Federation’s Community Relations Council Steering Committee and as a Board Member and Technology Chair for Community Day School. He has also worked tirelessly to connect Pittsburgh and Israeli communities. He lived there, married there, worked for an Israeli software firm, and visited yearly with his family. Being part of both communities, he has brought experiences and knowledge to his roles as the Israel Programming Chair and Israel Teen Program Scholarships Chair at the Federation and as the President of Bnai Zion.

Ethel & Bernard Halpern Young Leadership Award

Jessica Hammer

Jessica Hammer is the Thomas and Lydia Moran Assistant Professor of Learning Science, jointly appointed in the HCI Institute and the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. She has been named a World Economic Forum Young Scientist, received an Okawa Award, and participated in Project Horseshoe. She won Carnegie Mellon’s Teaching Innovation Award in 2018. She is also an award-winning game designer, including winning the national Shape of Health competition in 2019 with her game Frolic.

During her time at Beth Shalom, Jessica has assisted with the strategic planning process, chaired the Membership committee, led High Holiday services, led workshops, and more. She is incredibly grateful to Beth Shalom for providing an environment where she can be fully and seriously Jewish, and for providing such a wonderful environment for her daughter Ada to grow up in.

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle Volunteer of the Year Award

Jonathan Weinkle

Jonathan Weinkle became a doctor because family and friends kept telling him that being a rabbi was no kind of job for a nice Jewish boy. That didn’t stop him, however, from continuing to love Jewish learning and lifting his voice in tefilah and Jewish song. Jonathan is a veteran of Tzaha’l, a former summer camp songleader, and a singer-songwriter who weaves subtle references to Yehuda HaLevi and Megillat Ruth into his lyrics. As a doctor he works in a Federally Qualified Health Center serving a primary care population ranging from the Lubavitch to the Lingala-speaking refugees from the Congo, and striving to treat all of them as human beings created in God’s image; he has even written a book on the subject, and blogs about related issues for the Jewish Chronicle/Times of Israel. As an amateur chazzan, he has helped lead services in congregations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Sarasota and Jerusalem, as well as small towns like Wheeling, WV and Meadville, PA. He has served Beth Shalom over the years as a B’nai Mitzvah tutor, religious services chair, member of committees ranging from nominating to interim Rabbi search to Coronavirus, frequent darshan, leyner and davener for Shabbat services. His proudest recent contribution was organizing the Scholar in Residence Weekend with Rabbi Jeffrey Schein and Dr. Deborah Schein this past January, just in the nick of time before the pandemic closed the shul. He is only able to do this because his wife Vita Nemirovsky and his sons Eitan, Akiva and Adi Weinkle allow him the time and space to do so, for which he is immensely grateful.

Youth Member of the Year Award

Benji Himmel

Benji has grown up at Beth Shalom from preschool to Bar Mitzvah to the BSUSY board. He is currently the regional President of Central Region USY, as well as one of the international NOAM Olami Education Coordinators. Benji is also involved with The Second Floor, StandWithUS, and AIPAC. He attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel as a sophomore for two months, which strengthened his love for Israel and his community. Benji is a senior currently at Allderdice High School.

Youth Member of the Year Award

Elana Kolko

Elana Kolko started her Jewish journey in Kindergarten at Community Day School. During those years she spent numerous summers at camp Ramah in Canada. She currently attends Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice where she’s on the Volleyball team and played in the Concert Band. She had been an active member in Beth Shalom USY as well as her region, CRUSY. This past summer she participated in Hadar’s Teen Davening Fellowship. She has a sister Dalia Kolko who’s a 10th grader at Allderdice, and is the proud daughter of Eydie and Adam Kolko.

Staff Member of the Year Award

Dale Caprara

Dale is a Pittsburgh ‘lifer’ growing up in Forest Hills and graduating from Churchill (now Woodland Hills) High School. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania earning his BS degree in Accounting in 1982. After a brief stint in restaurant management Dale moved on to be the Assistant Golf Professional at Edgewood Country Club, where he met his wife Lisa. Dale earned his class A-8 professional status in March, 1989.

From there Dale changed his career path to Accounting, accepting a position at the Materials Research Society. Eleven years later he moved to the for-profit world working for Ed Berman at Allied Electric Supply Company. When Allied was sold Dale moved on to The George Delallo Food Company before eventually landing at Beth Shalom in July, 2004.

Dale and Lisa reside in Monroeville and will be married for 31 years this December. They have two children who both live locally; Courtney (27) and Alex (25).