Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Meet our Latest Ma'asim Tovim Award Winner!

Hank Needle

Every two years, the Region gets a chance to honor someone who has done exceptional work in furtherance of the FJMC's mission - Involving Jewish Men in Jewish Life - with the Ma'asim Tovim award. Our newest honoree is Hank Needle, a member of the Etz Chaim Men's Club in Marietta, Georgia and former Regional President.

A native of Greensboro, NC, Hank Needle graduated from North Carolina State University and spent the first 13 years of his married life in Seattle, Washington before returning to the South. While in Seattle, he would often accompany his brother-in-law to morning minyan at the Conservative shul. He felt a great sense of bonding with this small group, a sense of bonding that carried over when he moved to Marietta, Georgia and joined Congregation Etz Chaim. As he started attending minyan there, he formed solid friendships with several of the men in the congregation, which led to being asked to join Men's Club. Times were tough back in those early days, but Etz Chaim was always there to provide support to the Needle family.

Upon joining Men's Club, Hank gradually became more and more involved. Before long, he was on the club's board and worked in several capacities, including Trustee, Programming VP, and President, at the same time continuing to work on various committees and projects. He is a key member of the kitchen crew for the club's monthly "Best Breakfast in Town," rising early to help cook and set up for the meeting. He has also a key organizer of the club's World Wide Wrap event, with this year's Wrap boasting a record number of kids and adults in attendance. Hank also assisted with the club's Gold Torch Award-winning Yom ha-Shoah program in the synagogue’s Holocaust Garden. By his example - and by his outgoing personality - he constantly encourages new people to take an active role in Men’s Club, including his grown sons.

In the early 2000's, Hank was attended the FJMC's Leadership Development Institute, setting in motion his involvement on the Regional level. Hank served first as Vice President and then as President of Anshei Darom, providing leadership and encouraging men's involvement around the Southeast. He was one of the first chairmen of the Anshei Darom Retreat, an annual event at Camp Ramah in Clayton, Georgia that has grown in numbers and popularity over the last 12 years. The Retreat serves as a great model for other regional retreats, in no small measure thanks to Hank's efforts.

On the synagogue level, Hank was a member of the Board of Directors, including serving as Corresponding Secretary on the Executive Board. Over the years his love of woodworking has been put to use and can be seen in several projects at Etz Chaim. He helped build the Ark as well as the wooden wall sculptures in the chapel, including hand-carving one depicting Jerusalem. The Rabbi also assigned Hank the task of building a large menorah to be used for the community Chanukah celebration. The menorah, built almost entirely out of PVC pipe and gold paint, stands almost ten feet tall and graces the synagogue's lobby during Chanukah.

All three of Hank's sons - Josh, Ben, and Mark - became Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Etz Chaim, and all were married by the congregation's Rabbi Shalom Lewis. His wife of 37 years, Karen, has also been extremely involved with the synagogue, from her many years on the Sisterhood board to her current involvement as an assistant for the Judaica Shop. Hank is a very proud father and father-in-law, and is especially overjoyed to be the grandfather of six amazing grandchildren.

Professionally, Hank has worked for Isuzu Commercial Trucks for 21 years. He is an avid lover of anything Jeep, including the 1950 Willys he has restored. Many Sundays find him working in his garage workshop; he is always looking for spare wood for one project or another.

Instead of taking it easy now that the "kids" are out of the house, Hank has found the exact opposite thanks to family events and his continuing work with Men's Club. Life doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon!

Please join me in wishing Hank a hearty Mazal Tov on his receiving the Ma'asim Tovim Award!

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