Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

JFGO honors those who make an impact


Tess Wise

This August, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando is recognizing outstanding leaders who have made an impact in Jewish Orlando this past year. The awards presentation will be made on Aug. 24 at the JFGO Annual Meeting. Awards are given out in recognition of fantastic individuals who devote their time to make our community a better place.

This year's Jerome J. Bornstein Senior Leadership Award will be awarded to Tess Wise. The Jerome J. Bornstein Senior Leadership Award was established in 1992 in memory of Federation Past President Jerome J. Bornstein and is given to a community leader who exemplifies Jerry Bornstein's many attributes and contributions. Wise's tireless efforts and selfless devotion over all these years is one of the many reasons our community honors her. The Federation appreciates her continued commitment to the Jewish community and JFGO.

Wise was born in Poland and spent World War II under Nazi occupation; first in a ghetto, then a concentration camp. She escaped from the camp and went underground until the end of the war. When she returned to her hometown to be united with surviving family members, she encountered hostility and virulent anti-Semitism. She later fled to Germany for protection under United States occupation forces. Wise arrived in the United States in 1947. She married Abe Wise in Orlando and after raising two children obtained a degree in French literature from UCF.

She is the founder of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida-the first of its kind in the Southeast recognized nationally and internationally as a prototype for others. She was appointed to the State Commission of Holocaust Education. Wise also assisted in establishing the local Hebrew Day School. She is an education consultant to local public schools, Rollins College, Valencia Community College on Holocaust studies. 

During her 60-plus years in Orlando, Wise has dedicated herself to helping and teaching others. Since 1981, she has traveled around the country and overseas to participate in conferences and make presentations about the Holocaust.

She was a member of the JFGO Board of Directors and in 2007 she was awarded the Harriet Ginsburg Women of Choice distinction for her remarkable service and legacy enriching the community. In 2012 she was the recipient of JFNA's Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award at the International Lion of Judah Conference.

Wise's message to others is simple, "Get involved! Be active! Give meaning and a larger purpose to your life! Do it for yourself and future generations, including your children."

Wise will be honored at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando Annual Meeting on Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3:30 p.m. in the JCC auditorium at the Maitland Jewish Community Center. All members of the community are welcome to attend the annual meeting. To RSVP, visit http://www.jfgo.org or call Becca Ginns at 407-645-5933.


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