On Sunday, Oct. 29, the Birmingham Jewish community will gather to honor those who have received the Birmingham Jewish Federation and Birmingham Jewish Foundation annual awards. Among those recipients is Jerry Held, who has been awarded the Susan J. Goldberg Distinguished Volunteer Award.
The Susan J. Goldberg award, given by the Federation’s officers, recognizes a community leader who has distinguished him or herself through leadership roles, character, community activities and philanthropy. The award was created in Susan’s name shorty after she passed away in 2005 while serving as Federation President.
I first met Jerry about six years ago, when I started working for the Federation and a few short months later, Jerry became the BJF’s campaign chair, along with his wife Ginger and their children. After chairing two successful years of the campaign, Jerry went on to become co-President of the BJF Board, joined by Ginger. Ginger & Jerry became the BJF’s first husband-wife presidential team and, after two years, Ginger moved on to become President of The Birmingham Jewish Foundation while Jerry remained President of the Federation for another two years.
Though Jerry’s presidential term ended in June of this year, he has stayed involved in the Federation on many levels. He and Ginger are chairing the BJF’s Transition Committee, which serves in an advisory role and discusses the upcoming transition in leadership and new strategies the organization can use to address challenges. In today’s environment, with so many changes occurring, the objective of the Transition Committee is to help prioritize and plan the roles of the Federation and Foundation for the future of our community.
Additionally, Jerry serves on the Implementation Committee, chaired by volunteer leader Donald Hess. The Implementation Committee also serves as an advisory committee for the BJF and Levite Jewish Community Center leadership as it works through the blending of two agencies.
If one simply looks at what Jerry has been involved in through the Birmingham Jewish Federation, it’s more than apparent how much he cares for the Federation, its mission and the broader Birmingham Jewish community. But, Jerry hasn’t solely committed his time and energy with the BJF. He has previously served as the LJCC’s President and been involved with numerous other Jewish institutions and organizations in the broader Birmingham community.
Jerry’s passion for this community is contagious. He works hard to make the community better in a variety of ways and he has been an excellent example for those leaders who have and will come after him.
I asked Jerry’s three children what they thought about him being awarded the Susan J. Goldberg award and here is what they had to say.
“His desire, commitment and love for his work in this Jewish community does not go unnoticed. He has been an amazing role model for all of us and shown us what a true leader is. We hope to be able to follow in his footsteps and show the same amount of joy and dedication as he has.” – Elisa Nelson
“He has devoted a significant amount of time and energy to our Jewish community throughout our entire lives. He brings a great deal of passion and rationale to the table, and our community is lucky to have him be so involved. We are also lucky as children to have him as a father who sets a great example for us.” – Layne Held
“He has put in a lot of time and effort volunteering for our community and has really enjoyed it all. He is a great role model to us and an excellent leader in this community. We are extremely proud of him!” – Brian Held
Most importantly, I’ve come to learn that when Jerry embraces a leadership position, he takes it very seriously. Jerry is always willing to initiate productive conversations and moves quickly towards a solution when a problem arises.
“I am truly honored to be receiving the Susan J. Goldberg Distinguished Volunteer Award. Susan was so special and so important to our community. She was not only a wonderful leader, but also a dear friend of mine and Ginger’s, which makes receiving this award even more special. To be able to be connected with her is extremely special,” Jerry explained.
BJF Executive Director Richard Friedman said, “Jerry is a great volunteer leader and a good friend. I have tremendous respect for his dedication, drive and ability to get things done. He has a quick mind, inspiring energy and a caring heart — all of which have benefited our Jewish community immeasurably.”
This year, the event will be on Sunday, Oct. 29, at Temple Emanuel-El. There will be a light reception at 4:00 pm and the program will begin at 5:00 pm. It is free and open to the public. Other award recipients include Jahan Berns for the Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Award, Rabbi Jonathan Miller for Israel Bonds and Edward Goldberg for the Foundation’s N.E. Miles Lifetime Achievement Award.