TAG is grateful to Guests of Honor Mr. and Mrs. Shlomo Jacobowitz, Hakaras Hatov Awardees Mr. and Mrs. Menachem Kagan, Educator of the Year Awardee Mrs. Mimi Shuter, and the Mermelstein family in memory of Dr. Jack Mermelstein, z’l, who have stepped forward to ensure the success of this year’s dinner on February 18 at the Sands of Atlantic Beach.
Educator of the Year: Mrs. Mimi Shuter. Torah Academy for Girls is blessed to have an outstanding faculty. Their dedication and devotion to each of their talmidos helps ensure that each of them reaches her potential. This year, TAG is proud to present its Educator of the Year Award to Mrs. Mimi Shuter.
Mimi (Mark) Shuter is certainly no stranger to the halls of TAG. A student at TAG, she returned to begin her teaching career after completing the program in Seminar Yerushalayim. Mrs. Shuter has been teaching in TAG for 27 years and fondly recalls working with Rebbetzin Sara Heiman Nadav, and Mrs. Tova Fine, a’h, who were so encouraging and supportive to her in her formative years of teaching.
Whether as Morah Shuter in the morning when she teaches fourth grade in the limudei kodesh department or Mrs. Shuter in the afternoon with her first-graders, she is able not only to educate her young charges but to elevate their self-esteem and individual abilities. With her warm and caring nature, she makes each child feel special. Mrs. Shuter is well-known in the lower division as well, since she is in charge of the bentching each day. She introduced a reward system for bentching that has the girls learning the correct way to bentch and eagerly lining up to redeem their coupons.
Mrs. Shuter acknowledges that there have been many changes in TAG over the years. The amount of students has increased, and the building has grown to accommodate that influx of students, but she feels strongly that some integral aspects of TAG remain the same. The camaraderie among the teaching staff—the warmth and acceptance and helping one another through challenging times—is what makes the TAG team work so well. She credits the school for providing for the needs of each talmidah with the support resources that the school offers. She feels fortunate that she works closely with both Morah Menucha Levin, TAG’s limudei kodesh assistant principal, and Mrs. Temima Feldman, the general studies principal, and finds them both supportive and positive role models for their staff.
Mrs. Shuter is also a parent of two TAG students. Her eldest daughter, Rivka Liba, a TAG alumna, is currently in Touro College and working for a lawyer, while Nechama is in TAG’s fourth grade. Chinuch is certainly a mainstay of the Shuter home. Her husband, Rabbi Yisroel Shuter, teaches in Shulamith High School in Brooklyn and is an administrator in Camp Machane Yisroel in the summer. Her sons are all shteiging in learning b’H; Yosef is currently learning in Mesivta Shaarei Chaim, while Yehuda attends Yeshiva Merkaz Hatorah. Closer to home, Akiva in eighth grade and Efraim in fifth grade attend Yeshiva Darchei Torah.
Family is of the utmost importance to Mimi and she values her important role as a mother. TAG certainly values a morah and teacher like Mrs. Shuter and is proud to recognize her as Educator of the Year at this year’s dinner.
The Rabbi Moshe Weitman Memorial Award: Dr. Yaakov Mermelstein. At this year’s dinner, Torah Academy for Girls will have the z’chus to present the Rabbi Moshe Weitman Memorial Award to the Mermelstein family in memory of Dr. Yaakov Mermelstein, a’h. Although these two unforgettable men shared family ties, more importantly they shared the same hashkafos and derech ha’chaim in their productive lives.
Dr. Mermelstein was born in Vienna, and when his mother saw what was happening in Austria, she arranged to have her three children join the Kindertransport that was sent to Manchester, England. Miraculously, Dr. Mermelstein’s parents were able to reach America during the war, and afterwards were reunited with the children. The family settled in Williamsburg, where Yaakov Mermelstein enrolled in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. He was a student who thirsted for Torah knowledge and received his semichah from Rabbis Schneider and Koselevitz. Extremely bright, Dr. Mermelstein became a jack-of-all-trades. After he married Renee Weitman, sister of Rav Moshe Weitman, z’l, he started his own catering business to help support his growing family.
However, he soon turned to chinuch and served as a principal of Hillel Day School, outside Asbury Park, New Jersey. Yaakov Mermelstein attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, earning a Ph.D. in psychology, even without a high-school diploma. Dr. Mermelstein taught psychology in both Kingsborough and Seton Hall Colleges, while setting up his own practice in East Flatbush. Many patients flocked to see Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Mermelstein who soon earned a reputation for both his professionalism and his adherence to Torah values and hashkafos. He shared his insights and parenting advice in the books he authored, among them Being and Becoming.
Not only did Dr. Mermelstein possess an open ear to listen to other people’s problems, but he offered an open heart as well. As was heard throughout the shivah, so many people reacted to his warmth, wit, and knowledge because they knew he cared about them. His ahavas ha’brios and ahavas Hashem permeated all facets of his life. He loved helping people and people loved him. According to his family, there was never a day that Dr. Mermelstein did not thank Hashem and “speak” to his Creator.
In 1969, the Mermelstein mishpachah moved to Far Rockaway and then relocated in 1985 to Lawrence. The Mermelsteins were blessed with five children: Chani Reicher, their son Yossi, Chaya Greenwood, Shani Garbacz, and Tobi Eisenberger. Chaya, Shani, and Tobi attended and graduated from TAG, and Chani also taught in the school. Both Shani and Tobi’s daughters attended or are currently attending TAG. The link in the chain continues as Mrs. Renee Mermelstein, baruch Hashem, now has three great-granddaughters attending the school: Shari and Dalia Friedman and Aliza Garbacz.
As a beloved and well-respected member of Agudath Israel of Long Island, Dr. Mermelstein shared his Torah knowledge by giving a daf yomi shiur. The National Agudath Israel recognized Dr. Mermelstein at one of their dinners. He was a much sought-after speaker and lecturer and presented workshops at the Torah Umesorah and Agudah conventions, where the many attendees absorbed his meaningful views on life. Despite his illness in his last year, Dr. Mermelstein still saw patients in his home, putting their needs before his own.
Dr. Mermelstein has certainly left a lasting legacy in this community and beyond. Yehi zichro baruch.