Sandy Kaltman: A 2017 Woman of the Year
Our Own Jewish Community “Career” Volunteer
Sandra P. Kaltman of Amberley Village is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and works to improve the human condition through both her professional and volunteer life. At Rockwern Academy she ran a nationally recognized and replicated program known as Dor L’Dor, Generation to Generation, that brings senior citizens into the classroom as volunteer helpers. Through the Sam & Roma Kaltman Holocaust Studies for Educators Institute, which Kaltman and her husband, John Isidor, endowed at The Holocaust and Humanity Center in memory of her parents, she provides lessons of the Holocaust. She is the immediate past board chair of JVS Career Services, and is president of the American Jewish Committee of Cincinnati and chair of its Interfaith/Intergroup Relations Committee. Sandy was recently selected by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Cincinnati Enquirer as 1 of 10 exceptional 2017 Women of the Year.
Recently, JCGC Board member Marlene Ostrow spoke with Sandy Kaltman about her involvement in the Cincinnati Jewish Community as a volunteer.
When do you remember first getting involved as a volunteer in our Jewish Community?
As a teenager, I volunteered as a youth leader in a Labor Zionist youth movement called Habonim (Builders). I went to Israel for the first time, as a teen, on a Habonim summer program and then returned for a gap-year course, between high school and college.
When did you begin your adult “career” as a community volunteer?
At age 30, after law school, I moved back to Cincinnati. My late mother, Roma z’l’ encouraged me to get involved with Na’amat USA (Pioneer Women). A great Israel-based organization, it focuses on the needs and rights of all Israeli women and children, providing educational, legal and social services. Na’amat is the largest provider of daycare services in Israel.
As the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, how have you been involved locally with that important life issue?
Cincinnati is fortunate to have an important educational resource for teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust at the Holocaust and Humanity Center. I began volunteering at the Center when it first opened in 2000. I’m looking forward to The Center’s upcoming move to larger quarters in the Cincinnati Museum Center, early in 2019. I am a member of the Speaker’s Bureau and I enjoy the opportunity to tell the life stories of my courageous parents.
What motivated you to first get involved in the JCGC Board?
When I was asked to join the Board in 2013, I was happy to get involved because JCGC is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished for our community when all the Jewish denominations work together productively towards a common goal. The very existence of JCGC is an admirable accomplishment, reflecting the perseverance and wisdom of its founders. It makes so much sense to band together with a plan to maintain all the Jewish cemeteries, in perpetuity. I’m proud that because of JCGC’s success, it has become a model for other Jewish communities seeking to emulate what we created here. I appreciate the fact that the JCGC board is highly functional. The Board is able to consider differing opinions in respectful ways, while still moving forward in achieving the larger community’s goals.
Let’s talk about your generosity with your treasure as well as your time. You and your husband are original JCGC Guardian Donors and now Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL) donors to JCGC.
We all share responsibility for making sure that organizations that are important to our community continue to thrive and grow. In the non-profit world, funding sources come and go. The best chance for long-term viability of any Jewish organization is to have a solid endowment that gives the organization the ability to weather bad times and to adapt and change as our needs change. CYJL makes it simple to create legacy gifts that will live on long after we are gone. I hope that more members of our community will decide to participate in the CYJL program.
Speaking of Jewish communal organizations, can you talk a little about your volunteer leadership roles with your synagogue, Adath Israel?
I am the past immediate Chair of the Social Action Committee at Adath Israel. I liked using my organizational skills to find volunteers for many projects, such as rounding up bakers for the kosher Food pantry, lining up tutors, finding volunteers for blood drives, and organizing activities for the Center for Respite Care residents. I enjoy participating in the Sisterhood and its book club. Currently, I am an officer on the Board’s Executive Committee.
Where else have your volunteer efforts within the Jewish community taken you recently?
My current focus is on interfaith outreach. Besides chairing AJC’s Interfaith/Intergroup Committee, I am involved in the the Women’s Interfaith Network of the Cincy Suburbs (WINCS). I have also become a part of the Bridges of Faith Trialogue, an ongoing conversation among Cincinnati civic leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.
I always thought that Interfaith/Intergroup work was important, but now it seems essential as a response to the current climate of intolerance and hatred in our country. We need to seek out and create opportunities for people to meet those who are different from them, so we can try to understand and learn from other points of view.
Why do you give so much of your time, energy and treasure to our Cincinnati Jewish community?
Cincinnati is a great place to live. I want to do what I can to make sure it remains the vibrant, strong community that I know and love.