What do you appreciate about being Jewish?
“I grew up in Buffalo, where we belonged to a suburban temple with a few hundred families. My parents were one of the first members there, and my father sang in the temple choir. One of my fondest memories is my father and I singing a duet of the Kiddush, at my Bar Mitzvah; but my upbringing was mainly what we did in the home. We lit candles every Friday night and said the blessing over the challah; my father sang the Kiddush. Those are traditions we continue with our own children. Ruth and I are happy to have each other as Jewish partners in life—we share the same heritage and values, and we enjoy celebrating the same holidays.”
How do Jewish values find expression in your personal and professional life, especially as a high-ranking executive?
“When I think about how Jewish values have impacted me, I believe they serve as a moral compass both in terms of personal life and business dealings. Executives in business face challenges and pressures each day, and you have to embrace your values to live with the highest levels of ethics and integrity. A reputation is gained in inches, lost in miles. My wife and I hope we have passed those values onto our children. Lauren, my older daughter, is a mechanical engineer working with a team to develop a device called an ‘indigo cooler’ that can carry vaccines in Africa. This carrier, worn by women, has to keep vaccines in a narrow temperature range for up to 10 days without ice or batteries. Recently she shared with us a YouTube video of Bill Gates presenting the prototype at a conference for Global Good, one of his initiatives. She’s 23 years old and changing the world. Our younger daughter Lydia will follow in her footsteps by being successful in her own right, as she pursues a career in business following graduation from Cornell next year. If you imbue your children with the right values and start them on the right track, with a great education, that supersedes anything else. It’s more important than anything you might accomplish in the business world.”
Why did you choose to become involved in Federation?
“My involvement in Federation spans many years, starting with volunteer work in Detroit in the 1980s. My wife Ruth, who serves on the Board, encouraged me to get involved recently. Having retired last March, I’m just starting out; but our leadership is wonderful, and they won’t let too much grass grow under my feet. In the meantime, I hope to continue to build Jewish student life at RIT, my alma mater.”
Can you share some interesting things about yourself?
“Having worked at Chrysler in Detroit, for 20 years, I’m a car nut; I have a few muscle cars in my garage. I commuted from Rochester to jobs in New Jersey and Pittsburgh for the last six years of my career; so I did a fair amount of driving. I enjoy travel, swimming, cycling, sailing, playing the piano, tennis and golf. Finally, my wife has been a professional violinist, and it’s wonderful listening to her fill our home with beautiful music.”