Simhat Torah Honorees

Each year the Jacksonville Jewish Center invites the congregation and friends from the community to help us celebrate deserving members of our Center family. This year we invite the entire congregation to show their support on Simhat Torah, Friday, October 13 at 9:00 AM as these notable individuals are called for their special honors to the Torah. This year we are proud to honor:

Helen Hill - Aishet Hayil

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, where her grandparents were founding members of Congregation B’nai Israel, Helen learned the meaning of community service at an early age. Although she grew up in Zephyrhills, Florida, where there was no Jewish community, her parents instilled a strong sense of pride in being Jewish. She spent a year in Israel prior to beginning college and subsequently has visited six times. Professionally, she has worked for various non-profit organizations and enjoyed a career in volunteer management for more than 20 years. She was an active member of the Florida Directors of Volunteer Services Association and, after moving to Jacksonville in 1995, served as Director of Volunteer Services at Methodist Medical Center (which became Shands Jacksonville) and later at Community Hospice.  While at Hospice, she networked with JFCS to help create the Jewish Hospice Connection and subsequently became the coordinator of the Jewish Healing Network at JFCS.

Helen served on the Board of Directors and Caring Committee of Beth Shalom Congregation in Jacksonville, continued a similar involvement with the Hesed Committee upon joining the Jacksonville Jewish Center, and can be found playing percussion instruments with Kol Train and at Shabbat in the Round. Helen has been involved with Hadassah since the early 80s and is an active member, as well as board member, of the Jacksonville Chapter and the Florida Central Region. She serves on the Communication Committee of the Jacksonville Jewish News, volunteers in the office at the Center, was the leader of a community Women’s Rosh Hodesh group for years and currently co-leads a Jewish Meditation group.

Now retired, she and her husband John enjoy good music, good food, spending time with friends, visiting historic sites, and learning new things. She is the proud mom of two sons, David who lives in Teaneck, NJ, with his wife Pessy, and Jeffrey who lives in St. Petersburg with his wife Jessica and she enjoys spending time with her five grandsons whenever she can.

Brent Trager - Hatan Bereishit

Brent is a volunteer who serves the Jacksonville Jewish Center in several ways.  As the Jacksonville Jewish Center’s Vice President of Education, he helps lead the Galinsky Academy.  Brent also serves on the Steering Committee of JJC Futures and is part of our Executive and General Board of Directors.

In addition to serving the Jewish Center, Brent is passionate about the JCC movement.  In 2016, Brent was recognized as an “Esther Leah Ritz Emerging Jewish Community Center Leader” and is currently the President of the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA).

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Brent has been a lifelong member and an active participant in the Jacksonville Jewish Center’s community.  He is a graduate of The Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, Wolfson Senior High School, and the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance.  In his professional career Brent focused on helping to build a fun sports-merchandise company named Fanatics.

Brent is happily married to Alison Weil Trager and they have been blessed with twin daughters, Brooke and Elli, who are June 2018 graduates of our Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School and celebrated their B’Not Mitzvah this past summer.

Brent has a passion for continuous improvement and enjoys being part of high functioning teams.

Jane Grann - Kallat Torah

Within a month of moving to Jacksonville, 32 years ago, Jane, her husband Ira and their daughters Beth and Renee, became members of the Jacksonville Jewish Center and Jane was teaching in the Center Preschool. Beth and Renee attended the Solomon Schechter Day School, now known as our Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, Hebrew High and Camp Ramah Palmer in New England. After retiring as a consultant for a financial advisor and traveling the country, Jane has

“recycled” back to teach in the DuBow Preschool.

Over the course of the past 32 years, Jane has served as Vice President of the Center Sisterhood for several years, served as a member of the Center’s Board of Directors, was PTA President of the Day School and the Girl Scout Leader for the Center’s Brownie Troop. Until recently, Jane has worked as a High Holy Day Coordinator for 25 years. For Jane, she is most proud of making the white High Holy Day Torah covers.

Outside of the Center, and in the larger Jewish and Jacksonville community, Jane has served as Spring Conference Chairwoman, Corresponding Secretary and Vice President for the Florida Branch of Women's League for Conservative Judaism. She also worked with JFCS resettling and setting-up apartments for arriving “New Americans.” Additionally, Jane and Ira chaired Jewish Federation’s Super Sunday for several years. While working in the Financial world, Jane chaired women’s suit drives for “Dress For Success” and worked with the Jaguars coordinating food giveaways for “Operation Blessing.” Her biggest challenge was participating in the “3 Day - 50 mile Breast Cancer Walks” for 5 years.

Jane is thankful for the example of giving back to the community her parents Adele and Larry Graff z"l taught and lived.  Jane is the proud Bubbe of Dan, Carly and Kyle and mother of Beth (Richard) Exline and Renee (Clay) Haire.