2012 Lee G. Rubenstein Outstanding Leadership Award Recipient

Tamara Handelsman

Tamara Handelsman's exemplary involvement in and support of the Jewish community is a model for all who surround her. For over 30 years, she has served the DC and international community with her work on myriad boards and committees. Tamara helped launch efforts to bring a JCC back to the District in the 1970s, and as the DCJCC got off the ground in the 1980s, she was part of the leadership of the Agency and the Capital Campaign that reclaimed and renovated the historic building at 16th and Q.

As the building reopened, Tamara again stepped forward to lead the vision that created an outstanding Center for the Arts at the DCJCC---establishing and endowing the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival in honor of her parents and an annual lecture in memory of her brother Gerald. In the past 15 years, Tamara's passion and commitment has remained steadfast as she has founded, chaired and sat on many of the committees at the DCJCC and she continues to be a strong and vital voice in the Center's literary programs as well as the leadership of the Agency as a whole.

Tamara is or has been a member of the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, United Jewish Endowment Fund, Tikkun Olam Women's Endowment, Technion Institute of Technology, American Friends of Hebrew University, Israel Bonds of Greater Washington, and America-Israel Culture Foundation. She is a past president of the Federation's Women's Division and a Life Member of the Board of Adas Israel Synagogue. Tamara and her husband, Dr. Harry Handelsman, now live in Chevy Chase after raising their family in the District. Tamara and Harry have three children, Karen Sharabi, Jared Handelsman, Penina Maya and seven grandchildren.


"My inspiration and introduction to philanthropy came from my parents. They were very generous, very Zionistic, and gave to Jewish and non-Jewish causes because they felt it was their responsibility and privilege to help whomever was in their community. So I grew up in a tradition of having a sense of joy in giving, and learned early that the essence of Judaism was to make the world a better place now and for those who follow."

- Tamara Handelsman
On the occasion of receiving an award for service to the community from the United Jewish Communities in November 2008