≡ Menu ≡ Menu

The Legacy of Leah Shriro

Journal Correspondent

Leah Shriro with her husband Ben Hughes, who said that Leah led with her heart.

Leah Shriro loved the work she did at Temple B’nai Abraham. The founder of the social action committee, Shriro was an active member said Rabbi Alison Adler, someone “who jumped into every project the social action committee did.“
At the early age of 62, Leah died in 2015. But her legacy as a volunteer lives on, and was celebrated when Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly honored its Family Promise volunteers with the Leah Shriro Memorial Award for Social Action at a Shabbat service on Friday, January 13.
Family Promise is a nonprofit interfaith hospitality network that provides temporary shelter, meals, hospitality and management for homeless families.  Volunteers from Temple B’nai Abraham, along with several churches, work together in providing these services.
This is the second year the award was given in what is now, according to Rabbi Adler, an annual event. The Shabbat service preceding Martin Luther King’s birthday was chosen due to King’s penchant for social action.  Although Shriro passed away the same weekend in 2015, Rabbi Adler said that was a coincidence.
The idea of an annual award giving began soon after Shriro passed away. “We were devastated by her death, but were inspired by her life,” Jim Younger, current chairman of the temple’s social action committee, explained. He said they were looking for a way to honor and celebrate her life by annually choosing a person or group of temple volunteers who embodied Shriro’s commitment to the community and making an impact.
Shriro’s husband, Ben Hughes, who was approached by Younger and Rabbi Adler, not only embraced the idea, but opted to be the person who presents the award. “I was of course very moved and honored that Leah would be remembered this way, and have been very happy to be a part of selecting the honorees and taking part in the presentation ceremonies.”
He emphasized that the award itself recognizes that many temple members are “doing things to advance social justice, support families and bring about economic empowerment.”
He described his late wife’s commitment to social action and said it came from two places: “First, she led with her heart, always. She was just instinctively compassionate and caring. Second, she would never hesitate to pick up the phone, collect signatures, attend meetings, make those fundraising calls, do the grunt work.”
Hughes said that Shriro grew up in the 1950s and 60s in Syracuse, New York and that she got her passion from her mother who was a devoted Zionist and active in many causes. “Leah was definitely a role model for me and for Isabel, our daughter, who is about to turn 23 and working as a reporter in Atlanta.” They were married for 30 years.
According to Hughes, Adler and Younger, Shriro participated in numerous social action activities in addition to Family Promise, including the Pe’ah Garden, a sustainable garden on the temple grounds where congregants grow food to donate to the local food pantry, and Essex County Community Organization’s (ECCO) Living Wage Campaign. She also volunteered as an ESL teacher with Beverly Bootstraps, served on several temple boards and on her daughter’s school PTO.
“She did a lot in the past for our greater community,” explained Rabbi Adler. “I feel blessed to have known her and for us to be able to honor her in this way. And Leah made the world so much better, though she was here so briefly. ”
Last year, Jerry and Susan Wolper of Beverly, were honored for their work with Monday Night Suppers, a once a month program that is partnered with the First Baptist Church in Beverly to provide meals to Beverly’s underserved, according to Younger. The Wolpers are also volunteers with Family Promise.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment