Jewish Americans Receive Honors

| June 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

In celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, Union Bank has partnered with KPBS to honor two extraordinary San Diegans for the 2012 Local Heroes program.  The year-long campaign is designed to celebrate and pay tribute to exemplary members of the community who are making a difference by improving their workplace, neighborhoods, region, and the world.  The 2012 Jewish American Heritage Month honorees are:  Jill Spitzer and Gussie Zaks.

“Union Bank is excited to recognize the successes of these two extraordinary Jewish Americans,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking. “We are proud to once again partner with KPBS as we celebrate more amazing individuals as a part of the Local Heroes program.”

Jill Borg Spitzer is CEO of Jewish Family Services.

Jill Borg Spitzer began working at Jewish Family Service (JFS) in 1984 when the agency had a staff of 20, an annual budget of $500,000 and focused on family counseling. As CEO for 25 years, Spitzer has focused on social issues, including domestic violence, youth mentoring, senior centers and hunger.  JFS now serves more than 30,000 people every year, and its Hand Up Food Pantry, led by youth volunteers, serves more than 7,000 people. Spitzer has revitalized JFS’ fundraising capacity and completed a $12 million capital campaign. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia and is a licensed clinical social worker.

Gussie Zaks is a Holocaust survivor.

Born in Poland in 1925, at age 13 Gussie Zaks was sent to several concentration camps before losing her family at the Treblinka death camp.  Once liberated, Zaks spent time in Sweden and Belgium; she immigrated to the U.S. and moved to San Diego in 1963. As a Holocaust survivor, Zaks educates others about racial and religious discrimination.  Despite losing many family and friends to unspeakable acts of prejudice, she believes hate is not the answer. She has been recognized by the Board of Education of San Diego City Schools and has received San Diego’s Channel 10 News Leadership Award.

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