When the Torah illustrates the characteristics of good leadership, the two major attributes are humility and concern for people in the community. With over 8,000 residents at Leisure World, a gated community for adults ages 55 and older in Silver Spring, Maryland, opportunities abound for acts of service. Here is a brief look at one of the more active yet humble people in service to the residents of the Leisure World community and beyond — Dave Weiss.
Weiss grew up in Albany, New York, and graduated from Albany High School. He went on to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied mechanical engineering. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army Ordnance.
Upon leaving the army, Weiss went to work for General Electric (GE) in their aerospace division. He eventually came to Washington as a member of GE’s Apollo support team, and subsequently left GE to join Booz Allen Hamilton as a reliability engineer. Building upon this experience, he ultimately joined the staff at the University of Maryland to support faculty in developing a new graduate program. He helped develop several core courses for this program, and taught until his retirement in 1998. After retiring, Weiss was instrumental in organizing a group of retired engineers and scientists supporting science teachers in the Montgomery County school system (now numbering about 100 volunteers), and has spent 16 years volunteering in elementary and middle school classrooms.
Weiss and his wife, Connie, moved to Leisure World in 1999. After one short visit, they fell in love with one apartment they saw. Several months later, they moved in, and Weiss has been active in the community ever since.
Upon moving to Leisure World, Weiss immediately joined the Lions Club (the largest service organization of its kind in the world). He continues to be very active in the club and served as president for several years. He was an active member and president of the Leisure World B’nai B’rith unit, has served as chair of the community’s Energy Advisory Committee, and has participated in several committees for his condominium association.
Weiss attended a beginners’ singing class in Leisure World, where he says he discovered that he had a good voice and loves to sing. He began his “stage career” with non-speaking parts as a member of the “Fun and Fancy Theatre Group” and graduated to several parts in the theater group’s Broadway musicals. He also joined the group’s outreach program, which performs regularly for senior centers and local nursing homes. He is currently emcee for this group.
Dave and Connie have been members of Temple Emanuel since their arrival in Washington in 1963, and he served as president of the congregation for several years. In addition, he and Connie are regular attendees at the Jewish services and programs of the Jewish residents of Leisure World.
When asked for his advice to adults attaining senior age, he suggests that one leave as much time as possible to explore the wide range of service opportunities available and perhaps to create a whole new career (or careers), which can be very rewarding.
By Fred Shapiro
Fred Shapiro is currently the president of the Leisure World Center for Lifelong Learning and adjutant for the Jewish War Veterans Post 567. He served as religious chair and president of the Jewish Residents of Leisure World and recently completed service on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).