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Giving Back to the Community That Brought Them Together

December 8, 2005 By:
Zara Myers, JE Feature
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Rachel and Matt Steinberg
At Super Sunday 2000, a Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Renaissance board member met a young woman pursuing masters' degrees in a dual program of social work at the University of Pennsylvania and Jewish communal service at Gratz College.

Matt Steinberg was welcoming people at the "Meet and Greet," preceding the day-long phone-a-thon in support of local and worldwide Jewish communities. Rachel Levine was volunteering with some classmates. "However, being so busy during the four-hour phone stint, I didn't get her phone number," he said.

They met again a month later "across a crowded room" of some 4,000 young professionals attending the United Jewish Communities Young Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. "It was good to see a familiar face," said Rachel Levine Steinberg, associate director of Pinemere Camp, a Jewish overnight camp in Stroudsburg, Pa. "As we heard speakers and attended workshops, we found we had similar views and commitments to the Jewish community and to Israel."

On April 26, 2003, the couple married at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia.

For Rachel Steinberg, the desire to work in the Jewish community was solidified during a semester in Israel when she was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University. "At the Kotel, I remember thinking that each of us is like a brick in that wall," she explained, "and we must keep building on our commitments to keep Israel and our own community strong, stable, and secure.

"I appreciate the value of the organized Jewish community and Federation in particular," she continued, "which is important for the support it gives and for the education it provides."

Educating people about Federation and connecting them to the community are so important to the Steinbergs and the friends they met through Federation, David and Mindy Reibstein, that together they developed a Renaissance Cluster Group for young couples. "We saw a need to engage young people as couples in the community," said Rachel Steinberg about the two-year pilot program.

Eight couples meet on a regular basis and have their own events, such as Shabbat dinners and mitzvah projects. In this way, they make connections to each other, come to understand how Federation helps the community and see where they choose to fit in.

Rachel Steinberg has also served on Renaissance's Super Sunday Committee and is on the Gala Committee for Women's Philanthropy. Matt Steinberg is a member of Renaissance's Leadership Team and has served as the Philadelphia chair of missions to Israel. They are both graduates of Federation's Leadership Development program.

A financial advisor for Oppenheimer & Co., Matt Steinberg grew up in Elkins Park and was Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed at Congregation Adath Jeshurun, where his wife now teaches. His parents sent him and his younger brother to Camp Ramah, another very important influence on his feelings about being Jewish. He is a graduate of Cheltenham High School and Penn State University, where he was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

Rachel Steinberg grew up in Goshen, N.Y., where her late grandmother, Florence Levine, and her father, Harold, were Federation presidents. "At an early age, I learned to be a community volunteer and I continued on as a Jewish communal professional. The two intertwined. I entered the field of Jewish camping because of its incredible impact on Jewish youth and their future affiliations."

Finding time for each other in the couple's busy lives is not a problem. "In our volunteer work, we go to many of the same meetings and events," said Matt Steinberg. "We give back to the community that brought us together."

 

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