South Florida Jewish Journal: Ted Deutch Honored with Shin Award

By David A. Schwartz, Staff Writer
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Congressional District 21 in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, and wife Jill will be honored by the Jewish Theological Seminary and B'nai Torah Congregation at a dinner on Dec. 9 at the synagogue in Boca Raton.
Ted Deutch will receive the Shin Award from keynote speaker and Jewish Theological Seminary chancellor Arnold M. Eisen. The JTS award is presented to persons who embody a commitment to Jewish education and synagogue life.
"Ted works as a Congressman with a framework that includes the values that define his life," said Rabbi David Steinhardt of B'nai Torah Congregation, the Deutch's synagogue in Boca Raton.
Many of Deutch's values were formed as a child in a Jewish family that regularly attended Conservative synagogue Congregation Brith Sholom near their home in Bethlehem, Penn.
Jewish tradition, learning and Israel were prominent in Deutch's childhood, said Rabbi Allen Juda, the family's rabbi and Brith Sholom's spiritual leader for almost 40 years.
Deutch was called to the bima to recite the Haftarah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah in 1981and in other years, Juda said. "He was willing, maybe eager to do it."
The rabbi remembered Deutch having an early interest in politics. "It was obvious that he had leadership potential and was a good person," Juda said.
"I had a lot of serious conversations with my rabbi about political issues of the day, about Constitutional issues, about tikkun olam," Deutch said. Having a "passionate and insightful" rabbi and incredible Jewish educators and leaders during summer [at Camp Ramah] was a "powerful combination," he said.
The summers at Camp Ramah in the Pocono Mountains shaped a real commitment to Zionism, said Deutch, who took his first trip to Israel in the summer of 1983 as part of the camp's Ramah Seminar.
"To experience everything I had learned to love [about Israel] was extremely powerful," Deutch said. "I still feel that impact in the work that I do."
Steinhardt praised Deutch, a B'nai Torah member with wife Jill since 1998, for his work on Iranian divestment. He was one of the first activists to take on the issue of sanctions on Iran, Steinhardt added.
Deutch is concerned with a peaceful world and the safety of Israel and its people, Steinhardt said. But he also is concerned with the elderly and the poor — "people who are on the margins" — and with fairness and education, Steinhardt said.
Harold Jacobsohn, a Delray Beach resident who serves on the JTS national board of trustees and as an honorary co-chair of the dinner with wife Beatriz, said he knows the Congressman from B'nai Torah and from when Deutch was a Florida state representative. "Ted has been very outstanding in doing the right things both since he was in Tallahassee and now in Washington," Jacobsohn said.
Deutch was instrumental in getting the State of Florida to purchase Israel Bonds, Jacobsohn said, adding that a number of states followed Florida's lead. "I give him a lot of credit for that."
Deutch also has worked to strengthen sanctions on Iran, Jacobsohn said. "I think that's very much to his credit."
"It's an honor for me to be recognized by the JTS," Deutch said. "It's a thrill to be recognized with my much deserving wife."
Alisa and Dr. Richard Cohen and Dr. Tobi and Rabbi David Steinhardt also will co-chair the dinner.