Merrill D. Gross Service Award

The Merrill D. Gross Distinguished Service Award was established by former Temple executive director and life trustee Merrill D. Gross. It honors members of The Temple staff for their outstanding performance and positive impact on the congregation. The award is presented to one or more staff members at the Temple’s Annual Meeting held in June. The award carries with it a cash gift in addition to a beautiful recognition artwork with the recipient’s name. Any staff member (full or part-time) may be nominated for this award with the exception of rabbis, cantor and executive director. Nominations for this special award may be submitted by any Temple member, clergy, trustee or staff member.

This award is presented at the Annual Meeting every June.


2019 Erica Wilkov
2018 Lamarr Webb
2017 Andrea Davidson
2016 Louis Innenberg
2015 Rob Ross
2014 Charles Circus
2013 Lori Kowit
2012 SheRa Shields
2011 Cyndi Wilson
2010 Chris Fox
2009 Alice Licker
2008 Debbie Friedman
2007 Susan Koletsky
2006 Allison Howdieshell (Shippy)
2005 Gail Shields
2004 Chip Kogan
2003 Suzanne Utley
2002 David Saginor
2001 Andre Lane
2000 Carol Flanik and Ann Hudec

More About the Award and Merrill D. Gross

The Merrill D. Gross Distinguished Service Award was developed to recognize and honor a Temple staff member based on his/her work excellence, high standards, extraordinary commitment, and the measurable impact they have made on the congregation.

This special award was the brainchild and gift of Merrill Gross. He wanted to see that each year, at the Annual Meeting, one special member of the staff is recognized for their contribution to The Temple and its family of staff and congregants. While Merrill died in March 2003 at the age of 91, he is alive in many of our memories. Here is just a brief Temple bio on Merrill:

  • Merrill had a long affiliation with The Temple — Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver confirmed him with the class of 1927.
  • Merrill was married in 1940 by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver to Martha Perlick, of blessed memory.
  • Merrill served as Administrative Officer (Executive Director) for The Temple during the terms of Past Presidents Jim Reich and Marilyn Bedol.
  • Merrill served three terms on The Temple’s Board of Trustees during the 1950s and 60s.
  • Merrill continued to serve on The Temple’s Executive Committee up until his death in 2003.
  • Merrill understood, first hand, how critical and essential staff was in operating a large synagogue and wanted to create a legacy as a testament to the special people who often ask for so little but who we count on for so much.