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Monday, July 26, 2021
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Coming off a dynamic and highly successful three-and-a-half-year year term as national president of Emunah of America, longtime Teaneck resident Mindy Stein was elected to serve as one of the nine newly elected national officers of the American Zionist Movement. Working among seven women, Stein will serve as the vice president for World Zionist Organization relations. Known for her passion and courage on behalf of Israel, she will be an invaluable member of the new team.

In speaking with Stein about her earliest recollection of experiencing a close connection to the Jewish people, she shared the following: Growing up in Toronto, Stein attended Yeshiva elementary school. It was during the historic Eichmann trial, when 11-year-old Mindy Silverberg was in sixth grade, that her gentile teacher assigned the students to read two memoirs from the Holocaust period.

Despite growing up in a fully observant home and knowing that her beloved grandfather had fled his home in Poland before World War II, little Mindy had never heard of the Holocaust and its horrors. Distraught at the accounts of the inhumanity described in the books, she ran to the basement to cry. When her mother attempted to comfort her, Mindy insisted on knowing what her parents had done during this assault against the Jewish people. She learned that her father had served in the Canadian Army, but as for the majority of Canadian Jewry, there was little involvement on behalf of decimated European Jewry.

It was at that young age that Mindy vowed never to be silent when her Jewish people were under attack, and she has fulfilled that vow throughout her life, and will continue to do so in her new national role.

Forced to forfeit her plans of studying in Israel after the untimely passing of her dear father, Morris Silverberg, at the age of 54, Stein earned her bachelor’s degree in science at the University of Toronto. Finally able to spend one summer in Israel during her college years, she fell in love with the country. After college, she relocated to New York, where she attended NYU Graduate School and pursued a master’s in speech pathology and audiology. Shortly afterward, she met and married Muttie Stein, who had begun a career as a practicing litigator.

They moved to Teaneck in September of 1980. Stein continued working as a speech therapist at Montefiore and Misericordia Hospitals and later at a Montessori school. In addition to balancing her family life (which included raising four children) and her professional life, she joined the local Emunah chapter, inspired by her mother Evelyn Siverberg’s activities on behalf of her Toronto chapter. Muttie’s mother, Shirley Stein, had also been a dynamic national officer of Emunah before her tragic passing at the age of 39. Emunah’s work on behalf of Israel’s underprivileged and abused children and disadvantaged families was in sharp focus in the Stein and Silverberg homes alongside a fervent love for the State of Israel.

In 1991, the Steins participated in a Lawyers and Accountants mission to Israel. Throughout the trip, their passion and commitment were obvious to all. Subsequently, Mindy was approached to lead a Young Leadership Mission to Israel on behalf of Emunah. Her enthusiasm and Israel advocacy was evident to Chana Feit, a participant on one of the trips, who was serving on the executive board of the organization. After being nominated by Feit, Stein took the position of national president of Emunah of America in 2008.

Prior to this national role, Stein had been a passionate advocate for klal Yisrael on many occasions. When the terrorists who had attacked the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro and thrown Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer overboard were released on furlough, Stein urged Jewish leaders to protest the decision, which resulted in the terrorists being incarcerated again.

During the second Intifada, Stein was in Israel for a family simcha and was pained to see the sparseness of foreign tourists who were reluctant to travel to the besieged country. Upon returning back to the States, she started an organization to promote tourism to Israel, Am Yisrael Chai. Within a month, Stein organized six groups of American tourists to visit Israel. She worked with Melanie Oelbaum, chairperson of the Emunah Missions department, to design the itineraries to maximize the tourists’ connection to the land and give chizuk to the Israeli population. Visits to Independence Hall and IDF bases, as well as the opportunity to donate blood to Magen David Adom were key activities during her trips.

After completing her national presidency of Emunah in 2011, Stein served as chairman of the board for three years until 2014. Currently she serves on the executive board and finance committee. Through these roles, Stein became a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, under the expert guidance of Malcolm Hoenlein, and thus politically involved with Jewish leaders and Jewish communities throughout the U.S. and the world.

Stein serves as a delegate for Emunah to the World Zionist Congress and the Va’ad Hapoel. She represents Emunah on the board of the American Zionist Movement, where she is a member of the antisemitism task force. As a delegate for B’nai Brith, she has advocated for Israel when meeting with the heads of state in Azerbaijan and Georgia. On behalf of B’nai Brith, Stein has met with the Ambassadors of UNESCO and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Paris and Geneva, even continuing virtually during COVID.

In addition, Stein has advocated on behalf of the National Council in Support of Eurasian Jewry in Poland and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, she and a small delegation were instrumental in arranging for the display of a huge chanukiah in the center of the Muslim city of Almaty. Today, the Jewish community still celebrates an annual public Chanukah celebration.

After her term as chairman of the board of Emunah was completed, Stein created a grassroots initiative to urge rabbis, pastors and educators to encourage their parishioners and students to act on behalf of Israel. Calling her organization BeCounted4Israel, Stein has written scripts to be sent to government officials and university administrators on behalf of Israel and to help counter antisemitism. Through BeCounted4Israel, which includes all streams of Judaism, Stein was instrumental in encouraging groups to participate in the recent “No Fear” rally in Washington. D.C.

When asked to share the goals she has set for herself in her new American Zionist Movement position of VP of World Zionist Organization relations, Stein described her three-pronged mission: First, to further enhance and improve the image of Israel for the American Jewish and non-Jewish Diaspora through AZM-WZO educational and cultural activities. Second, to increase the participation and involvement of the 10-member American Zionist Youth Council (AZYC) and expand the number of youth organizations within the AZM. Finally, to foster and increase the connection between the AZM and WZO so that we can work together to promote and defend Zionism and combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

“With a special focus on college campuses, we wish to ensure the safety and security of our Jewish students and enable them to proudly and fearlessly stand up for Israel, Zionism and their Jewish identities,” Stein emphasized.

Stein expressed her gratitude to Hashem for “always providing me with the right words to say when advocating for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” She also shared her great joy at being the matriarch of a family consisting of children and grandchildren who share her love of Israel, pursue their love of learning Torah, and engage in untold acts of chesed. She and husband Muttie are looking forward to the birth of their first Sabra grandchild to their daughter-in-law, son and family who made aliyah as recently as last week.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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