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Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award

About the Award

This prestigious award was created in loving memory of Linda Rice (in blessed memory). The recipient of this award is held to the same high standard of passionately providing spirituality and service over the years to ensure the continued success of Temple Brith Achim.

Linda so beautifully advanced the ideals of our founders. She worked tirelessly to ensure that the dream of a successful Jewish community would endure. She was a visionary and optimist who served our congregation in many leadership positions.

2011's Recipient

  Leon Rosen (in blessed memory), 2011 recipient of Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award

A member of Temple Brith Achim for more than 20 years, Leon is a cornerstone of our congregation.  Look around – if it is made of wood – it was probably created with Leon’s loving touch.  You have probably been called on by Leon to give your blood for others during our many blood drives.  Leon sat shiva and sent sunshine.  He was a guide to many new members, ensured that ritual activities are well thought-out, and honored us with his torah readings and his lay leadership of services when our Rabbi was away.  We know Linda would be pleased to know that Leon is receiving the award named for her.

2014's Recipient

Kareen Hartwig, 2014 recipient of Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award

Congregational Worship Service and Shabbat Dinner in Honor of the 10th Anniversary Celebration with Rabbi Lazar


Temple Brith Achim is proud to award its second Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award to Kareen Hartwig, who has been a member of TBA with her husband, Robert, and their two children, Andy and Danielle, since 1983. 

Kareen has been elected as the second recipient of TBA’s most prestigious honor - the Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award - after an extensive nomination process that began in December 2013 and resulted in a series of emails and letters from various congregants about why Kareen should receive this award, according to Mark Sugarman, a TBA congregant and past Board president who led the Nominating Committee. The first Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award was given to Leon Rosen on Dec. 9, 2011 during TBA’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in memory of Linda Rice, a founding member of TBA who served our congregation in many leadership positions, including as Board President, Office Manager and volunteer.

Anyone who has attended a service or program at TBA has probably met Kareen. She’s typically singing with the TBA Choir or on the Bimah during Shabbat Services and on the High Holy Days guiding congregants through their Torah portions. She’s also one of the "go to" persons people rely on when training for Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons. Kareen’s discipline and continuous encouragement have guided many young teenagers through their passage into adulthood as Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Most often you’ll probably observe Kareen on the Bimah, teaching in a classroom or at a table in the Social Hall as she guides students of all ages in reciting and chanting Torah during worship services, workshops and during educational classes where she teaches conversational Hebrew.

Kareen’s also wears many other hats at TBA, from serving on the synagogue’s management team and Sisterhood to being an active voice in the TBA Choir during High Holy Day services, Shabbat services and special events. And who can forget Kareen’s famous Knishes tastings in the synagogue lobby to encourage people to put in bakery orders for the High Holy Days?

"Kareen has done more than any lay leader I can think of to keep the congregants involved an engaged in worship and study at TBA," said Steven E. Koffs, a TBA congregant who serves in the choir with Kareen. "She has been tireless in her involvement in worship initiatives and has reached out to many people at all levels of religiousily to try to promote TBA worship as it relates to them."

Janice Biros, who has served with Kareen in the TBA Choir and on Sisterhood, also commented on the many roles Kareen has taken on at TBA, including serving as a "second Rabbi"

"She has worked for the good of TBA both internally and externally and her leadership has extended the TBA reputation both regionally and nationally," Biros said, referring to Kareen’s recent appointment to district and national positions for the Women of Reform Judaism and her recent election to the national board of the Union for Reform Judaism.

"Her knowledge and love of Judaism and Hebrew have made her uniquely qualified to guide our ritual and religious practices as well as help build strong congregational community and warm, welcoming family for all in TBA," Biros said.

Always one to lead by example, Kareen’s children, Danielle and Andy, also has had an active role at TBA. Andy and Danielle celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs here. Andy was confirmed here in 1998 and Danielle was part of the 2001 Confirmation Class. Additionally, both of Kareen and Robert’s children taught in the Religious School. For several years, Andy taught students in the Powell Religious School, and Danielle was the first teacher at TBA’s Early Childhood Learning Center, when it reopened in 2009.

Mazel Tov to Kareen Hartwig as she stands up today with her family and the TBA Community and accepts this year’s Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award. Thank you for all of your efforts to continue to advance the ideals of our synagogue’s founders!

2018's Recipient

  Ellen Matzner (in blessed memory), 2018 recipient of Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award

Ellen, a member of TBA for over 30 years, served as President of TBA from 1998-2000. She also served as 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President and Immediate Past President. She was active for years on the Membership, Communication and Caring Community teams. She served as President of Sisterhood, where her tireless efforts enriched the lives of our community by her deeds of Tikkun Olam and Chesed.  Ellen was generous with her time and was always willing to help those in need. Ellen was a true example of impeccable leadership who embraced and lives the values of our community.

2022's Recipient

 Rhonda Hager, 2022 recipient of the Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award

SOME THOUGHTS FROM RHONDA HAGER

 

I am grateful and amazed to be honored with the Linda Rice Lifetime Service Award.

In 1985, I joined Temple Brith Achim along with my husband Mark and our daughter Debbie. Our goal was for Debbie to receive a Jewish education and for us to meet other Jewish families in the King of Prussia area. I gradually became involved in life at TBA, first with the school, then with Sisterhood, and later with the wider community. As time went by, I experienced how important it is for Brith Achim to be here as a vibrant Jewish home, and realized that through service I could help provide this not just for my family, but for families to come. Since my term as Temple President from 2002-2004, I have remained active at TBA and am now the Adult Education team leader. I was instrumental in design and fundraising for the last building expansion project; I led the committee that developed a Dietary policy; I was active in the Rabbinic search committee and chaired the Welcoming Committee for Rabbi Lazar; recently I organized the purchase of the new High Holiday prayerbooks.

I would also like to share what I have received as an active member of Brith Achim.

I have made countless good friends through my membership. I have had the privilege of forming a Sacred Partnership with three Rabbis: Rabbi Ourach, Rabbi Spicehandler, and Rabbi Lazar. I have met Reform Jews from all over Pennsylvania and North America at URJ Biennials. I have seen my friends’ children become Bar/Bat Mitzvah, get married, and have children of their own who now attend school at TBA. I have learned so much about Judaism and I have been given the opportunity to read Torah on this bima at my Adult Bar Mitzvah and the High Holidays.

I was fortunate to be mentored by the three previous recipients of the Linda Rice Award. I remember sweet Leon Rosen who took such pleasure in meeting prospective members and sharing his pride in TBA. Kareen Hartwig still sets the example of continued leadership at Brith Achim and has always encouraged me to take on new roles. Ellen Matzner was a dear friend that showed me by example how to continue in leadership after being President. And I’ll never forget how Linda Rice, a founder of TBA and the person for whom this award is named, shared her knowledge with me and supported me in my service.

I could not have done any of this without the encouragement and love I receive from my dear husband Mark and daughter Debbie. It has been a family commitment to Temple Brith Achim.

As Sharon Forman-Toll shared with us at a previous celebration, “Chazak, Chazak, v’nitchazik – May we continue to go from strength to strength to greater strength together.”

Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784