Hank Steinberg is Our Mensch of the Months for June!
If you are a member of Temple B’nai Israel or the Greater Spartanburg Community, you know the friendly face and warm handshake of Hank Steinberg. While Hank deserves to be Mensch of the Decade, we honor his strong presence in our congregational family for the month of June!
“I was born and educated in Spartanburg and attended local schools including Spartan High. I married Marla Pincus from Dallas TX and we have 3 children. Our married daughters have the same last name: Daughter Samantha is an attorney in Miami married to Eric Funt. They have our first granddaughter Eden (age 2) and another granddaughter is due in late August. Daughter Shelli is a dentist in Atlanta married to Josh Funt (Eric’s brother). Our son Brian works for a national insurance firm in Atlanta.
Growing up here meant being active in the Temple. My mother (Kathy) helped direct a number of Temple plays, always worked at the bake sale, and we swam at the Glen Hills Pool behind the Shrine club while the ladies played mahjong and the men played cards. It was a tight knit community. My mom and my sister Linda passed away from breast cancer at ages 61 and 40. We had an active BBYO group when I was a teenager and we participated in the Dixie Council BBYO meetings. It was a great group of people including Cathy Lewson and David Blumenfeld.
After working several years, I moved back to Spartanburg in 1986. My father told me the first check I would write every year would be to the Temple. He was in charge of the Aliyah sales so I quickly learned my parents were very involved in Temple life, and financial support for the Temple was an integral part of our lives. The call came to serve on the board, and I agreed, for over 20 years serving twice as President of the Temple; 2 years in my 30s and 2 more years in my 40s. I vividly remember taking my oldest daughter Samantha to services every Friday night where she would fall asleep in my arms on the bima. (The Presidents used to sit there during services.) Marla became a Sunday school teacher for a number of years while our kids were growing up. Why drop them off when you can participate?
Back in the 90s we helped form a Temple softball team and basketball team and we had a lot of fun getting together to represent the Temple. Jon Lewson, Bob Britanisky, Brian Goldman, Andrew Green, Rex Russel, and many others remember the fun times. We were sort of the Ivy League team; good SAT scores but slow. We had quarterly golf outings for about 10 years with as many as 24 members playing.
My dad (Jack Steinberg) and I came up with the idea of a long term fund that would sustain the Temple in times of need so we started the Endowment Fund in 1995. We raised about $500,000 by members who are recognized on the Pillars of the Community plaque located near the Sisterhood room. The people on the plaque should be proud to have been a part of that forward thinking. Many other organizations have such funds which improve their quality of life and sustain the organization through tough economic times, or a downturn in membership. The purpose of the endowment fund was to initially help supplement the salary of the Rabbi when we switched to the Reform movement in order to attract better candidates. Later the board was allowed to redirect the funds for unforeseen expenses and to proactively take care of our buildings.
Our current campus began in 1963, and the Sunday School building was added in the early 70s. We saw an influx of young families to our area starting in the mid-90s and by 1999 I was concerned that our facilities were dated. So I hired an architect to come up with suggestions and then went to a number of families for support and to ask for a major financial commitment to fund the expansion and update of our facilities. The congregation raised over a million dollars and the project was paid in full as we added the sisterhood room, a new expanded and modern social hall, a Rabbi’s office, updated kitchen, new playground, covered walkways between the building and into the Sunday School, a permanent Sukkah, portico to the Temple, and sports Pavilion. There were so many members that helped with this process, and their names are on a plaque honoring them in the main Temple Lobby. Bob Lyon told me to stay off the building committee so I wisely listened to him, and we had 5 talented people run the project with our builder.
Currently, I am still on the Endowment committee with Gerald Smith and Larry Abelkop, the memorials committee (My mom used to be on it, and I would love to have someone take my spot.), and the Annual Appeal committee with Robert Lyon. My dad used to call everyone at the high holidays to raise money to balance the budget. I continue to do these things as I love our Temple and hope it will continue to provide a place of worship and social gathering for another100 years. It takes caring people to have a community and we have been very blessed by so many who have cared so much in the past. It is my sincere hope that others will carry the banner and continue to “plant trees” for our children’s children. My father and I have both put the Temple in our wills so that our dues will always be paid.”