–submitted by Donna Hurd; photos by Mike Engelberger
Jonathan Gramling was awarded the 2014 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award, 32 years since its inception in 1982.
Patty Loew (pictured at left with Jonathan Gramling), a past recipient of the award and Mr. Gramling’s nominator, says of him “Jonathan Gramling has devoted his life to civil rights and promoting racial equity. From volunteering on self-help projects benefitting African-Americans in the South, to fundraising for United Farm Workers in Madison to supporting Native people on environmental threats associated with mining. Gramling’s service has been inspirational and exemplary.”
In remembrance of Rabbi Swarsensky, Rotarians and guests viewed the 2000 award-winning video production chronicling his life. In addition, Rotarian Mario Mendoza (pictured at right) provided the club with excerpts of the November 22, 1967, address to the Rotary Club of Madison, entitled “Thanksgiving – Holiday or Holy Day.” The address, by all accounts, is as relevant today as it was in 1967. Paralleling the first Thanksgiving to that of 1967, Rabbi Swarsensky penned, “The work of the Pilgrims is no longer our world. We could not go back to it, even if we wanted to. But the recollection of the first Thanksgiving of 1621 can have meaning for us in 1967 [and 2014], if we learned again to be grateful for the simple things in life, which are the most priceless blessings: life and health, home and love and friendship, the privilege to give of ourselves and the determination to make our country and the work a better place so that our children and our children’s children may be proud of us, as we are proud of and grateful to those who have gone before us.”
Pictured above from left: Club President Tim Stadelman, Carol Toussaint, Mercile Lee, Sr. Mary David Walgebach, Sr. Joanne Kollasch, Melanie Ramey, Andy Davison and Mitch Javid
The Club was privileged to host 11 past recipients of the award: Sr. Mary David Walgenbach & Sr. Joanne Kollasch, Patty Loew, Richard Davis, Mitch Javid, Rotarian Carol Toussaint, Rotarian Bill Rock, Rotarian Andy Davison, Norval Bernhardt, Rotarian Melanie Ramey and Mercile Lee.
In addition, we were honored that Rabbi Swarsensky’s daughter, Sharon Swarsensky Bilow and her husband, Paul Bilow, were able to join us for this celebration. They are pictured above with Jonathan Gramling.
The Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award was established in 1982 and identifies individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to the humanitarian service in the greater Madison community, in the tradition so well exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky. The award-winning documentary video, “A Portrait: Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky,” that was created and produced by Rotarian Dick Goldberg with assistance by Wisconsin Public Television, provides background on Manfred Swarsensky and can be viewed on YouTube, and the Rotary office also has a copy of the video for any member wishing to view it.