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Centennial Howard Cohen & Myra Musicant:
Jewish Community Builders

By Hebrew College

howard_cohen-myra-musicantAs founder and former CEO of Beacon Communities, Howard Cohen has devoted his career to creating diverse, multi-family residential communities throughout the region. Musicant, a CPA and Hebrew College board member, has spent years building community as an active volunteer in Greater Boston Jewish organizations. She is past president of Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, a former board member of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, a member of the finance committee at Gateways, and a hospice volunteer at Hebrew SeniorLife.

So when Hebrew College began looking for a new home a few years ago, Howard and Myra stepped up to help. And, over the past several years, their work and expertise have been instrumental in creating Hebrew College’s expanded community on a new shared campus on Washington Street in the Auburndale neighborhood of Newton.

“We are thrilled—and honored—to honor Myra and Howard on this occasion. The ripples of their impact at Hebrew College and throughout the Jewish community are beyond measure,” said Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld. “As a leader on our Board of Trustees, Myra has been a steady voice of both hard-nosed realism and open-hearted optimism, asking difficult and honest questions when necessary, but always, in a spirit of profound partnership and generosity. Howard led the search for our new home and the creation of an innovative model for our new shared campus with unsurpassed dedication, creativity, passion, and skill. He brought to the process not only his own tremendous professional expertise, but a group of amazingly talented and generous colleagues who have helped make it all possible. He has been not only a transformative leader, but an important mentor and a friend.”

Hebrew College will relocate to this new home in early 2023, joining Temple Reyim, Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center, Kesher Newton, Zamir Chorale of Boston, Jewish Arts Collaborative, Jewish Women’s Archive, Keshet, and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis to create an interdisciplinary hub of Jewish learning, spirituality, and innovation.

In June, Hebrew College will honor Howard and Myra, along with others who have been instrumental in building the new community campus—Isabel Acuna, Paul Bouton, Karen Dubrovsky, and Pam Goodman—at the College centennial celebration, “Remember. Renew. Reimagine.”

An alumna of Hebrew College’s two-year adult learning Me’ah program, Myra joined the Hebrew College board about five years ago. A few years later, when Hebrew College sold its building on Herrick Road, she brought in her “resident real estate expert” to help with the College’s search for a new home. Howard jumped at the opportunity.

Howard led the Hebrew College Real Estate Committee as they worked together closely and tirelessly over the past few years, searching for Hebrew College’s new home, negotiating with Temple Reyim, bringing in Jewish organizational partners, raising funds, and finalizing the shared-campus agreement. Howard said he couldn’t have done it without the community of volunteers and professionals who worked alongside him.

“From my point of view, the real goal here is to honor the team that really accomplished the miracle of finding a home for Hebrew College,” he said. “You don’t get a chance every day to find a campus for homeless college, and the fiscal outcome is going to be stupendous. I think that what Sharon and the College have put together is an incredibly unique outcome. It’s a place where the College could be for the next 100 years.”

Howard said the project not only brings together a community of organizations, but provides a comfortable and hamish community space, a Jewish community center that will be “buzzing 24-7” with a congregation, an independent Hebrew school, arts and education programming, a space for cultural activities, and a mikvah, along with Hebrew College.

“We’re taking a site that’s already in the community and enhancing it, bringing in other organizations so it’s not standing alone, all of that is really community building,” he said. “It is something that is not replicable. I think it’s going to be a very busy corner of the Jewish community.”

Myra added, “The synergies of all of these different organizations being together under one roof, the kinds of exchanges that go on when people are in proximity to each other, especially post-COVID where nobody has seen anybody, is going to be amazing for the community. The new building will truly showcase Hebrew College’s deep involvement in the Greater Boston community and beyond.”

Howard and Myra said that through the real estate process, they strengthened their own community connections, as well.

“For me it’s very exciting because of the team we put together and how we accomplished this goal as real estate professionals, how we pulled it together as a community,” Howard said. “All the people we worked with are wonderful, and we have built friendships with them. It was a community engagement project for us too.”

Hebrew College will be honoring Howard and Myra—along with Mark Atkins and Miho Sato, Deborah Feinstein, and Jack Eiferman—at our Centennial Celebration “Remember. Renew. Remimagine.” on June 2, 2022. Save the date and learn more here.

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