Fran Stier and her family
Tikkun Olam in Media
A true friend of the community
Congregation Beth Israel of Media today announced that Fran Stier has won
its 2006 "Friend of the Community Award." She is being recognized for her
work as leader of the social action efforts of Congregation Ohev Shalom of
Wallingford, PA. Led by Ms. Stier, the Social Action Committee of Ohev
Shalom has created and participates in numerous programs that provide food
and education to those in need in Delaware County.
Ohev Shalom, a Conservative synagogue, was founded in 1891 in Chester,
Pennsylvania, and moved to Wallingford in 1961. The congregation never
forgot its roots in Chester, and today many of its social action programs
benefit that community.
Ms. Stier, a member of Ohev Shalom for 23 years, remembers her first
social action effort. "Several families volunteered to bring Christmas
dinner to the Chester Salvation Army, but were overwhelmed by the logistics. Genuardi's take-out saved the day. From that dinner, we
joined the congregations like Beth Israel who serve dinners at the Life
Center in Upper Darby, and got involved with Habitat for Humanity's Haven
House. The Talmud says: one mitzvah (good deed) draws another mitzvah in
One prominent project that Ms. Stier helped create is the Reading Partners
program, which pairs volunteer reader/teachers with young children in
Chester. She recalls that in the early days "we wanted an incentive for
the kids to concentrate --- our teen volunteers suggested candy, but the
recreation department head wanted to promote healthy eating. Instead, we
started letting the kids keep any books they read."
In addition to the Reading Partners program, Ms. Stier has inspired Ohev
Shalom congregants to participate in a wide variety of food programs.
Members prepare and serve meals at the Life Center in Upper Darby, make
Thanksgiving food donations to the Chester Eastside Ministries, raise
funds for the Baby Manna program of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank and
"adopt" needy families at holiday time with PathWaysPA, a local non-profit
Said Ms. Stier of her work, "I was standing on another volunteer's doorstep, talking with her about how hard it was for a few volunteers in
an after school program to have much impact when Chester's schools are so
troubled and the families are in so much turmoil. The other volunteer
quoted Rabbi Tarfon, who said 'It is not your duty to complete the work,
but neither are you free to desist from it'."
Ms. Stier attended the University of Michigan and received a Ph.D. in
Anthropology from the University of Arizona. She taught at Purdue and
worked for the US Agency for International Development, then became an
actuary. In 2000 she was honored by Ohev Shalom as its Woman of the Year.
Her husband, Steve Maurer, is Professor of Mathematics at Swarthmore
College. They reside with their two sons in Swarthmore.
Fran Stier will be honored at a ceremony to be held at Congregation Beth
Israel on Friday, April 7 at 6:30 PM. For further information, contact
Congregation Beth Israel at (610) 566-4645.
Since 1998, the Social Action committee of Congregation Beth Israel has
presented the "Friend of the Community Award" to individuals or groups
whose work in Delaware County exemplifies the Jewish value of "Tikkun
Olam," or repairing the world. Members of Beth Israel participate in a
range of community projects, such as serving home-cooked meals at the Life
Shelter in Upper Darby, organizing a coat drive to benefit families in
shelters in Chester, and collecting donations to MAZON, the Jewish Response to Hunger.
Congregation Beth Israel is affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist
Federation and has served the Media community for more than 70 years. It
is located at 542 South New Middletown Road in Media, PA.