One of the greatest titles we can bestow upon our children when they demonstrate kindness, integrity, and character beyond our expectations, is that of “mensch.”

The Yiddish word “mensch” is often translated as “a good person,” but the word implies much more.

A mensch is a person who does the right thing.  He/she is one who goes out of his/her way to offer help, to volunteer time, to befriend the stranger, to pursue justice and to do so with no concern for personal reward.  A mensch demonstrates equal measures of generosity, humility, empathy, sacrifice, fairness, dependability and perseverance.

The greatest way for our children to understand what it takes to be a mensch is to spend time observing one, learning with one and growing from the experience.  Raising a mensch is helped along by role models who demonstrate core Jewish values   We are blessed when our community provides our children with role models of menschlichkeit who are their teachers, leaders and friends.

Rabbi Stephen Einstein is one such mensch and role model.  During the 4 decades that he has served as a congregational rabbi in Orange County, he has also served as president and board member of the Bureau of Jewish Education as well as many other community agencies.  He has chaired the Ethics Committee of the CCAR and served as chaplain for local police and fire departments.  He has been president of the Fountain Valley School District Board of Trustees and the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council.  The list of his contributions goes on and on.

He is a mensch, because he is a giving leader and a dedicated volunteer.  Rabbi Einstein’s commitment to education and to the community have shown him to be one of our region’s great role models.

Jeff Reinstein is another mensch who is near and dear to our youth community.  Jeff originally came to the Bureau of Jewish Education as a student in its youth and teen programs, then enrolled in the Advanced Camp Leadership program, became a counselor and then a senior member of the staff.  Last summer, Jeff led 35 students on the Bureau’s TIES pilgrimage to Israel.  For the past 2 years he has been director of the bureau’s youth education programs.

Only in his mid-20’s, Jeff has also established himself as a community volunteer, as a co-founding member of Hillel at CSUF, helping to start an AEPi chapter there and leading his fraternity brothers in fundraising activities for Jewish Federation & Family Services.

We are proud of all that Rabbi Einstein and Jeff Reinstein have contributed to the nourishment of Jewish identities in the youth of Orange County through leading by example.  They have contributed through the Bureau and through other organizations, helping build Jewish pride, encouraging participation in Jewish activities and developing leadership qualities.  They are menschen, they are role models and they have shaped the commitment of many others.

On Sunday afternoon, June 5, Jeff Reinstein and Rabbi Steve Einstein will be honored with “Mensch of the Year” awards by the Bureau of Jewish Education at the Bureau’s “Ahoy Vey: Beachcomber Edition” spring event.  Friends from all over the community will come together for an afternoon of celebration, music, food and fun.  For more information and to join the celebration, contact the bureau at (949) 435-3450.

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