Lappin Urges: Don’t Break the Chain

Reprinted from the Jewish Journal:

  • Thursday, August 30, 2012 – 06:00

Jewish Journal Staff

GLOUCESTER — Teens from the 2012 Youth to Israel trip were welcomed home in a ceremony that honored Dr. Philip Cutter of Rockport, recipient of the 2012 Y2I Award.

Now in its 42nd year, the fully-subsidized Y2I trip, which is a rite of passage for North Shore teens, grew by nearly 30 percent — up to 100 teens this year, over 78 from 2011.

David Burdick of Marblehead, who recently returned, spoke about his experience in Israel.

Stuart Garfield “The history of the land flowed through me and from that moment on, I knew I would be able to proudly call myself Jewish as long as I lived,” said Burdick.

Robert Israel Lappin, trustee of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation that sponsors the trip, thanked the community for its generous support of the program, whose existence was threatened when the Foundation’s assets were stolen by Bernard Madoff in 2008.

He singled out Cutter as a person who stepped forward early to rescue Y2I.

“Not only was he instrumental in the Foundation’s revival, but also this building (referring to the rebuilding of Temple Ahavat Achim in the wake of a devastating fire). This is what Phil does. He sees a need and he quietly steps up to the plate to lead the effort,” said Lappin.

After Lappin gave teens a glimpse into his own life story and motivations for the program, Michael Katzen asked about Lappin’s first trip to Israel. “It was in 1964 and it was a life-changing experience for me. I fell in love with Israel and it made me realize that to truly feel Jewish and have a strong Jewish identity, I had to go to Israel,” Lappin said.

A few years later, after serving as president of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore from 1967 to 1972, he decided to make an Israel experience a reality for Jewish children, partially subsidizing the program from 1970 to 1995, and fully subsidizing after that from Foundation assets. Since 2008, community donations and an allocation from the Jewish Federation of the North Shore have kept the program alive.

Cutter, in accepting the award, thanked his late friend Bernard Goldhirsh for making it possible to make generous gifts. Until recently, Cutter was the trustee and chair of the Goldhirsh Foundation.

He related a story about his grandmother that influenced his life. When she was walking around Medford Square to get ads for a Sisterhood tribute book, he asked her if she had enough and she answered, “It is never enough.”

He advised the teens to take risks and, when presented with opportunities, to answer with the Hebrew word, “Hineni,” meaning “here I am.”

In conclusion, Debbie Coltin, executive director of the Foundation and of Y2I, praised both Lappin and Cutter as “representatives of the last generation that truly understands what being part of the Jewish family means.”

“I am part of the ‘me’ generation and we have passed that to you, a generation that asks, ‘what’s in it for me?’ I hope you will lead your generation back on course,” Coltin concluded.

‘I knew I would be able to proudly call myself Jewish as long as I lived.’

Last modified on Thursday, August 30, 2012 – 06:00

At the Y2I Welcome Home Event, Robert I. Lappin (r) gives the Y2I 2012 Youth to Israel Award to Dr. Philip Cutter of Rockport.

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