Dr. Aviva Weisbord, executive director of Shemesh, a local program that provides educational support for Jewish children with learning differences, passed away Dec. 25 after a battle with COVID-19. She was 72.
In a statement, Shemesh called Dr. Weisbord “our sun, spreading light and warmth to everyone in her path. We were privileged to benefit from her leadership over the past eleven years and will miss her deeply. Our hearts are with the Weisbord family and the rest of the community as we mourn her passing.”
Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, of which Shemesh is a program, called Dr. Weisbord a “beloved friend and colleague.”
“The passing of Aviva Weisbord is an enormous loss,” he said. “Not only did she serve as a great leader throughout her life, most recently as the executive director of Shemesh, the world also lost a kind, caring, generous mensch. Aviva was a woman of valor; someone who had exuded empathy, kindness and compassion. Her smile and positive attitude were an incredible combination. Aviva’s teachings and examples of a life well lived will endure forever.”
In a statement, The Associated called Dr. Weisbord “a dedicated professional, deeply committed educator and most important, a kind and compassionate friend. She was an integral part of our Associated family and we will miss her smile and devotion to our Jewish community. Our hearts are with her family. May her memory be for a blessing.”
A licensed psychologist who was in private practice for more than two decades, Dr. Weisbord held leadership positions in various community organizations, including Jews for Judaism, the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League, Jewish Addiction Services, the Association of Jewish Outreach Programs and the Maalot Seminary. Throughout the years, she served as a mentor and role model to many Jewish communal professionals and others in Baltimore and elsewhere.
Dr. Weisbord was the daughter of the late Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, the rosh yeshiva, or dean, of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, and his wife, Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg. She was also the granddaughter of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, the Pikesville yeshiva’s founder, and Rebbetzin Feige Ruderman.
Her husband, Rabbi Beryl Weisbord, is the mashgiach ruchani, or spiritual guide, at Ner Israel
Dr. Weisbord was a graduate of American University and studied at Georgetown University in the Department of Psychiatry. Her specialty was family and marriage therapy.
She wrote frequently about Jewish family and communal issues for myriad publications, including the Journal of Social Psychology and the Journal of Psychology and Judaism.
In a 2016 article for Jewish Action, the Orthodox Union’s magazine, Dr. Weisbord wrote that she was strongly influenced by her mother’s activism in the Jewish community, particularly regarding the issue of domestic violence.
“Leadership starts with a sense of responsibility, seeing something missing or off course and then stepping in to create or fix,” she wrote. “Leadership is also about believing in others. Community leaders get to see the best and worst of community members. We don’t live in denial, but we do focus on the best. Often our leadership is about making a positive impact on one person at a time, with no public fanfare or credit. …
“Perhaps the greatest reward of serving in leadership positions is the opportunity to know myself and be myself,” Dr. Weisbord wrote. “Living a truly authentic, directed life is what Judaism is about; and feeling that message deeply while conveying it unabashedly is what leadership is about and why it is so compelling.”
Besides her husband, Dr. Weisbord is survived by her children, Reb Yehuda (Yael) Weisbord, Ayala (Rabbi Pinchas) Jurkowitz, Sholom Meir “Shmop” (Lia) Weisbord, Dvora Meira (Dr. Jonathan) Ringo, Yosef Aryeh (Tzipporah) Weisbord, Noson Zvi (Aviva Rachelle) Weisbord, and Feige Miryam (Reb Yaakov Akiva) Sofer; her siblings, Rabbi Matis Weinberg, Rabbi Simcha Weinberg, Yehudis Zwick, Miriam Feldman and Naomi Sprung; and many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A virtual funeral, conducted at Ner Israel, was held for Dr. Weisbord on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 27. Contributions in her memory may be made to Shemesh, 5700 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21215, or to Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Memo: Machon Avodas Levi Fund, 400 Mt Wilson Lane, Pikesville , Md. 21208.