West End Synagogue Presents Nathan Davis and Goldstein Awards

Ceila Wiston was the 2023 recipient of the Nathan Davis Award, given annually by West End Synagogue to the outstanding student in the Beit Miriam graduation class.

Wiston, a rising senior at Hendersonville High School, was presented the award during graduation ceremonies on June 2 by past president, Charlotte Davis Seloff, granddaughter of Nathan Davis.

Nathan Davis, president of West End Synagogue from 1931 to 1934, was so loved and respected that he was given the honorary title of president for life in 1935, a year before his untimely death at the age of 52. His family established the award in 1936 because Jewish education for the young people of the congregation was his first imperative.

Charlotte shared a bit of her grandfather’s history with the graduates. “Nathan Davis moved to America from Russia in the early 1900’s and settled in Wiggins, Mississippi. He and his cousin decided to buy a horse and buggy and sold everyday items that farmers and their wives could use. They walked for miles selling their wares until they saved up enough money to open a general store. Nathan Davis married and had four children. His wife Eva had a sister living in Nashville who told them to move there because business was booming. And they did. They opened a lady’s ready-to-wear store in downtown Nashville near the square and joined the Kahal Kodesh Adath Israel (aka the Gay Street Synagogue) which was also located downtown. Nathan Davis became interested in the religious school because he wanted his children and all the children in the synagogue to become knowledgeable, proud Jews. He was eventually elected president of the synagogue and the given the honorary title of “President for Life”. Unfortunately, he died of a stroke at the age of 52. When he died, his wife Eva and son Morris Davis, decided to create an award to be presented to the outstanding student in the West End Synagogue Religious School in his memory. Following Morris Davis’ death in 2005, the award was endowed in perpetuity with the Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The Nathan Davis Award is the oldest continuously presented award in the Nashville Jewish Community.

The Davis award is given to the student who shows excellence in religious studies, leadership abilities, a positive attitude toward Jewish learning, dedication, commitment, honesty, sincerity, a cooperative attitude, respect for others, and involvement in youth activities and synagogue affairs. The recipient is chosen by the professional staff and teachers.

Wiston has attended religious school at West End Synagogue since 4th grade. She has read Torah and/or Haftarah on the High Holidays every year since becoming bat mitzvah. She taught T’filah, prayer, at Beit Miriam this year and served as president of our USY chapter for the past two years. In addition, she was elected Executive Vice President in charge of Religion and Education on our regional USY Board, HaNegev. She and our USY chapter officers planned and executed the USY/Kadima Ein Gedi subregional convention that was held at WES this past March. Eighty students from around the subregion came in for the weekend.

Celia attended Akiva School and has attended Camp Ramah Darom for the past eight years. She is going on Ramah Seminar to Poland and Israel this summer.

Henry Rhoades Sterling was the recipient of the Sandi & Bernie Goldstein Award for active and meaningful community service. presented at the Beit Miriam Graduation Ceremony. Sterling is a rising senior at Franklin High School.

The annual award was established in perpetuity in 2015 by Bernie Goldstein and his children, Steven, Ronna, and Stewart to honor an outstanding student in the Beit Miriam graduating class, in loving memory of their wife and mother, Sandra Goldstein. Sandra was described as an Ayshet Chayil, a woman of valor. She advocated “Tikkun Olam,” giving back by helping others in the community. She valued being involved in the Jewish and non-Jewish community. It was the family’s intent and hope that this award would serve as an inspiration for West End Synagogue high school students to increase awareness and promote Tzedakah and community service, as a duty and core trait of the Jewish Faith. The award was renamed the Sandi & Bernie Goldstein Award upon the death of Bernie Goldstein last year. Bernie was also a past president of West End Synagogue

Award recipient, Henry Rhoades Sterling has been an active member of Boy Scout Troop 86 since he was in the 5th grade. He has volunteered to help in several projects in the Nashville Jewish Community through the Scouts and through Beit Miriam and wants to make a difference.

Elizabeth Link, the Troop 86 committee chair wrote the following about Henry. “I have known Henry for the past six years as an adult leader of Troop 86. He has developed into a motivated, independent, and high achieving member of our troop. He is very responsible, and his attendance has been impeccable. Since his sophomore year, Henry has served in leadership positions, for 18 months as a Patrol leader in charge of 8-10 boys during weekly meetings and on campouts. He is currently a Troop guide and oversees a team of instructors. Henry’s skills and dedication have influenced dozens of younger boys. On two separate occasions, he traveled with the troop to Waverly, TN to help clean up Trace Creek after the devastating flood there in 2021. Henry volunteered on his own time at Second Harvest Foodbank helping to stock and organize the food pantry and at Project Cure helping to sort medical equipment for shipment to countries in need.

Henry is a hardworking and kind young man who has volunteered to help his community and even people far from home. He is an excellent role model for our younger scouts. He plans to be an Eagle Scout and will be organizing his own service project in the coming months.”

Max Lapidus, a rising senior at USN, was given the honor of passing on our chain of Tradition, the link from the Beit Miriam graduating class of 2023 to the class of 2024. He alone in the class carries the tradition of generational involvement in West End Synagogue. His great-great grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Lapidus, his great grandparents, Lillian and Harold Lapidus, his grandparents Steve and Leslye Lapidus and his parents, Brian and Kim Lapidus

have all taken leadership roles in our Synagogue. Max just returned from a semester in Israel on the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program and was elected Regional President of BBYO. Ariela Lowen, a rising Junior at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood accepted the Chain of Tradition from Max Lapidus on behalf of the Beit Miriam graduating class of 2024.

Sharon Paz, Director of Lifelong Learning at West End Synagogue commenting on the award recipients, said, “These three students are all deserving of the recognition they received. They are all active and involved in the Jewish community and in our school and they are also kind-hearted, generous, Jewishly committed and caring teens. I am so proud of them all.”


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