Dr. Leora Horn was recognized by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance for her contribution to synagogue life and improving the local Orthodox community. Dr. Horn, a medical oncologist, has been instrumental in helping the Sherith Israel community during the COVID19 pandemic to remain active and viable. Dr. Horn says, “I was really surprised and honored when I learned of this award. COVID has touched all of us in so many ways, it was important to me to do what I could to keep the community connected.” She began working with Rabba Daniella Pressner at Akiva and then turned to Rabbi Saul Strosberg at Sherith Israel. “Our congregation is different from others. We couldn’t go virtual.” Rabbi Strosberg says, “Essentially, from the onset of the pandemic, it was the goal of our community to be cautious and wise, which meant closing down to an extent, and at the same time to remain as active as possible, given those constraints. It was a huge challenge to have these seemingly opposite goals, and so it was really a blessing to be able to work with Leora to evaluate what could and could not be done. Her standing in the medical community and strong connection to Vanderbilt allowed us to get the most real-time information, and being a regular at Shul, as well as an Akiva parent, gave her access and understanding to the importance of being safe at the same time as being together. Additionally, since Leora's goals were to both keep us safe and at the same time, to keep us as open as possible, our community has been extremely cooperative and flexible when it has come to following our protocols.” Horn says she finds peace in services and was committed to making sure to keep them going. “Our world has changed. How we connect, how we pray. It was a bonding experience just sitting outside in masks praying, watching our kids play.” Rabbi Strosberg says the shul is stronger today because of how Leora helped deal with COVID.
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