Maine Jewish Hall of Fame to open in Portland

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PORTLAND — Maine’s newest hall of fame is going to need a lot of space.

On Oct. 7, at 3 p.m., the Maine Jewish Hall of Fame will induct its inaugural group of 16 members in a ceremony at the Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St.

“We wanted people who focused their lives on making the world a better place, how they achieved it could be done in a multitude of ways,” museum President Steve Brinn said Tuesday.

Brinn said the inductees include Joel and Linda Abromson, who held city and state elected offices; philanthropists Dorothy and Harold Alfond of Waterville; Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, and Judge Morton Brody, who served on the U.S. District Court for Maine.

Brinn said the museum’s third floor will house the hall of fame.

The concept for the Maine Jewish Hall of Fame developed a couple of years ago, Brinn said, after the museum began presenting a lifetime achievement award.

“We knew there were so many (deserving) people in the state, so we came up with the idea of the hall of fame to celebrate 10 to 12 people on an annual basis,” he said.

What was unexpected was the volume of nominations last winter for the inaugural class. The 16 inductees this year were selected from 120 nominees sent from all over the state, Brinn said.

He was part of a selection committee of eight people, and said the nominations opened his eyes to the number of people who have made significant contributions throughout Maine.

“I thought maybe we would have 40 or 50 (nominations),” Brinn said.

While there were some specific criteria, he said the overall consideration was how nominees worked to make their communities better places.

Ultimately, the committee had a ranked-choice election, hoping for an inaugural class of 15.

“It ended up there was a tie for 15th,” Brinn said, “so we took 16.”

The large group of remaining nominees will be considered in future years, and Brinn said new nominations will be accepted annually.

“I’m sure there are lots of people we are not aware of,” he said.

The museum has yet to decide how members will be honored, but Brinn said at a minimum there will photographs and a summary of how the members enriched the world around them.

He also expects information about the members will be exhibited digitally.

Completing the list of inductees are the Adelman family (including Hiram and Katherine, Milton and Gloria, Yale and Mary and Jack and Elizabeth Mazer), the Bernstein Family (including Isreal and Rebecca, Selma and Louis, and Sumner and Rosalyne), Samuel L. Cohen, Al Glickman and Judy Glickman Lauder, Gerda Schild Haas, Philip Lown, Judith Magyar and Irving Isaacson, the Minsky Family (including Meyer and Bess, Leonard and Renee and Norman), Harold and Millie Nelson, the Osher Family (including Harold and Peggy, Bernard and Barbro, Alfred and Suzi, and Herbert and Marion Sandler), and Jack Spiegel.

“It has been amazingly rewarding, speaking with inductees who are still with us has been fantastic,” Brinn said. “Everyone is so touched and honored to be part of this.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

The Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St., will induct 16 people to its new Maine Jewish Hall of Fame on Oct. 7.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.