When the Jewish Federation of the East Bay announced Josh Langenthal as this year’s winner of the Moses M. and Celia R. Lesser Young Leadership Award, it took at least one person by surprise: Josh Langenthal.
The Berkeley investment counselor usually has his hands full with work and family commitments, not to mention serving as board president of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, and awards are about the last thing on his mind.
Langenthal was on hand to accept the accolade at the federation’s annual meeting June 15 at Temple Sinai in Oakland. He was one of several East Bay Jewish community activists honored that night.
“I was delighted to be included among them,” Langenthal said. “It’s a validation that the work my colleagues and I have undertaken is noticed and felt.”
Other award winners were Jewish Community Foundation board president Joe Hurwich, who won the Endowment Achievement Award, and federation vice president of development Steve Zatkin, named Volunteer of the Year.
Also on the meeting’s agenda: presentation of the 2011 community study, which took a close look at the demographics of the East Bay Jewish community.
A native of Baltimore, Langenthal, 45, joined the JCC board in 2006 after enrolling his daughter in the preschool. He served on the finance and development committees, and two years ago became board president, having seen the JCC endure lean financial times.
Over the past year, he said, the center has bounced back. “We’re working really hard to keep the thriving going. We’ve rounded the corner since the bad times, and now we’re trying to pick up speed.”
Langenthal is a current Wexner fellow, part of an East Bay cohort of that prestigious community leadership program.
He traces his passion for Jewish community activism back to his parents’ involvement with the federation and other Jewish institutions in Baltimore. In particular, Langenthal remembers the JCC in his hometown as a robust community hub, and he wanted to bring some of that energy to the East Bay.
Said Langenthal, “I feel my most Jewish when I’m involved in community activities.”