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Generation of Leaders The David H. White Award
 
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
by M Groogan

Generation of Leaders – The David H. White Award

Houston, TX – Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston will celebrate 80 years of Leadership at the Annual Meeting Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. The event highlights agency accomplishments but also recognizes volunteer leaders who have made a difference in building a stronger Jewish community.

One of the highlights of the program is the recognition of the recipient of the David H. White Award for 2016. The David H. White Selection Committee, chaired by Mark Brookner, has announced that this year’s distinguished award will be given to Gerald Merfish.

Gerald is a community leader, family man and business owner who has dedicated his life’s work and service to improving the quality of life of others. He is the President and CEO of Merfish Pipe & Supply, a business founded by his grandfather that has remained family-owned and managed for more than 96 years. The company sources steel pipe and piping products from around the world and distributes these products in 38 states with the help of a second facility in Philadelphia.

Over the past 37 plus years, Gerald has served in many different capacities in the Jewish and greater community including President of the Board of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC.

“I am truly honored,” said Gerald Merfish. “It’s just wonderful to be included with so many people that have served as role models and mentors to me throughout the years. I am very proud to be in the good company of an admirable group of dedicated community servants that have tirelessly labored to enhance our community.”

While Gerald grew up active in BBYO and would go to the new J to play racquetball when home from the University of Texas at Austin, it wasn’t until after he was married and moved back to Houston in the late 1970’s with his wife, Sherry, that he became more involved with the Center.

Gerald started out serving on the Men’s Health Club committee where he later became Chair. He eventually took on more pivotal roles at the J as Budget Committee Chair and became a board member in 1981. He served on the Executive Committee from 1991 - 1999 and was very involved in the Teen Committee and the movement to give Jewish teens a meeting place. He served as President of the Board from 1995 – 1997 and it was during his tenure that the J bought the old Meyerland Club property at the corner of Braeswood and South Rice. In 1998-1999, Gerald and Stephen Kaufman co-chaired the capital campaign to update this facility and turn it into a place that teens could call their own—his parents generously stepped forward as each had an extensive background as BBYO Advisors and loved interacting with Jewish teens, and helped fund the Merfish Teen Center.

Gerald has been of service to a multitude of other communal organizations serving in many leadership capacities including the United Way Board of Directors, the Mankind Project – Houston, the Jewish Federation of Houston, the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, Congregation Beth Israel, National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Texas, the American Leadership Forum, the National Association of Steel Pipe Distributors (NASPD), the HISD Foundation and Bridges to Life. He was recognized in 2008, along with his wife Sherry, as Honorees of the Children’s Scholarship Ball and he has received lifetime service awards from the Mankind Project, the NASPD and has been inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis Society National Volunteer Hall of Fame.

This award is annually given to an individual whose life reflects the qualities associated with David H. White. White was the Editor-Publisher of the Jewish Herald Voice, President of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston and a leader in many causes dedicated to improving the quality of life for all. He died in 1972. Gerald is honored to be the 45th person since 1973 to receive this prestigious award and sees his contributions to the community as a duty.

“I believe, according to our tradition, that we each have a covenant with G-d to help heal the world, Tikun Olam, and to provide for others, Tzedakah,” said Gerald. “We do not live in a perfect and fair world.  There is always someone less fortunate -- we each have a responsibility to help provide for people in need and to help make the world a better place.”

“Gerald Merfish has made his mark as an outstanding volunteer leader in our community,” said Board President Debbie Kaplan. “He has given his time, expertise and leadership to numerous organizations and continues to serve as a mentor and advisor to current leaders. We are so excited to honor Gerald for his passion and service to our community plus his life-long commitment to leadership. He has and continues to make an important impact on our community and I am thrilled he has been chosen as this year’s David H. White Award recipient.”

Gerald and his wife, Sherry, have been married more than 43 years and have two daughters, and a son-in-law: Brett, Beth and her husband Daniel, and Etta Ruth their 4 month old granddaughter. Besides spending time with their families and friends, Gerald and Sherry enjoy travelling, political activism, skiing, fishing, cycling and reading.

Members of the J, the community and the public are invited to the 80th Annual Meeting, From Generation to Generation: Celebrating 80 years of Leadership of the J chaired by Roslyn Haikin, on Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Kaplan Theatre, followed by a reception in the Deutser Art Gallery.  RSVP to Melanie Beltram at mbeltram@erjcchouston.org or 713.729.3200 ext. 3214. Visit erjcchouston.org for more information. Visit erjcchouston.org for more information about our programs and services. Find us on Facebook. 


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