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Of Song and Service: Debby Jacobs's Contribution to the Klal

Barbara Bensoussan

Debby Jacobs began working at Agudath Israel of America in 1980, and she currently works as the personal assistant to Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, the executive vice president. But she first came there as a single girl to work as Rabbi Moshe Sherer's secretary, spending almost twenty years as his personal assistant. Those extraordinary years allowed her precious glimpses of greatness, and molded her as a professional and a human being. But the influences on Debby's life began far earlier.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ever since she arrived in Brooklyn in the late 1970s, Mrs. Debby Jacobs, one of Agudath Israel of America's most faithful and experienced staff members, has spent much of her spare time starring in women's musicals and productions. If “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” as Shakespeare so famously put it, then what might a musical comedy version of Debby's life look like?

If it were a secular production, the plot would go like this: spunky, talented little girl from the Midwest comes to the Big City in search of her big break, hoping to meet Mr. Right in the process. With a combination of charm and serendipity, she manages to tap-dance her way right into the big time. As the curtain closes, our heroine has it all: fame, fortune, and Mr. Right.

Debby's a frum Jewish woman, though, so we need to tweak the storyline a bit. The spunky, talented little girl from the Midwest still comes to the city in search of Mr. Right, and in the meantime sings and dances her way into starring roles in the N'shei Tzedakah Players. This doesn't gain her national fame, and it certainly doesn't make her rich, except perhaps in her celestial bank account: those all-women productions bring in tens of thousands of dollars for charity. But our heroine's really big break has nothing to do with the theater. In our next act, Debby accepts a job at Agudath Israel, giving up a plum position in a law firm. She will now work for Rabbi Moshe Sherer, ztz”l, the indomitable and devoted president of Agudath Israel. In her new role, she will have the opportunity not only to work closely with one of the great men of American Jewish history, but to meet gedolim, community askanim, politicians, even US vice presidents and secretaries of state. Oh, and Mr. Right makes his appearance not far into Act II.


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