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For Lydia Shorenstein, helping those in need is a way to honor the lessons of the past. Though she originally came to JFCS because of our Holocaust education programs, she is now helping lead the agency’s efforts to assist those in crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lydia’s father, Simon Preisler, was an Auschwitz survivor who resettled with his wife Etelka in Germany after the war. Lydia, who was born and raised in Frankfurt, learned the importance of giving back from her father. Undeterred by the atrocities in his past, Simon became a well-known philanthropist and a leader of the local Jewish community.
Guided by her parents’ extraordinary example, Lydia has been a respected leader of the civic and arts communities for decades, serving on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations. Thoughtful and compassionate, Lydia is inspired to become involved with an organization when she personally connects to a cause.
She became involved with JFCS decades ago when a friend introduced her to the Holocaust Center. She saw no better way to carry on her father’s legacy than by working to prevent genocide. With her late husband Doug, Lydia founded the Preisler Shorenstein Institute to provide Holocaust education to thousands of young people and created an endowment fund to support this work in perpetuity.
Lydia, who has served on the JFCS Board of Directors since 2018, is a dear friend and invaluable leader of the organization. She is committed to the agency’s broad scope of programming to address critical needs throughout the community. Well aware that the world can change in the blink of an eye, Lydia has been an incredible leader of JFCS’ emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. Her generosity is helping thousands of vulnerable seniors, medically frail and disabled adults, and families with children who are facing crisis.
“Thinking about the vast number of people in our community who need help and can’t get it on their own, I was propelled to act,” says Lydia.
Lydia’s support of JFCS’ emergency services goes well beyond financial contributions. A motivational role model, she is also making phone calls to donors to encourage them to give to this vital cause. When asked how she is inspiring others to act, she responds that this crisis affects everyone, and each individual act can add up to a world of difference for our community.
“We are facing a very difficult time without a clear end in sight,” says Lydia. “It’s important that we all come together to support those that need the most help.”
Lydia is honoring her father’s legacy every day by making our community a better, stronger place, and by showing that real leaders step up to help when needed most. Her passion, dedication, and strategic vision are leaving an indelible mark on JFCS and our entire community.