By Shiryn Solny
Two Five Towns residents were among those honored on Sunday night in New York City for their accomplishments as Orthodox Jews.
Frayda Ginsburg, former director of legal services for the Americas at the luxury house Burberry Group PLC, and David Adler, author of the bestselling “Cam Jansen” children’s book series, received their awards at the 5th Annual Jew in the City All-Stars Awards. Both were celebrated for being successful in their careers while keeping their Jewish values.
Adler, who grew up in Lawrence and now lives in Woodmere, said Judaism never hindered him from getting ahead professionally, though it did pose some difficulties at past award ceremonies where he was recognized. At one recent luncheon, all he ate was dried spinach and he could not even enjoy the champagne toast made in his honor. He also recalled his award once being given to someone else because he would not attend the ceremony on Friday night. He said that there have been “issues one way or another, but it hasn’t stopped my career.”
The author said that he had no intention of being a writer. “Just offhand I had an idea for something and I sent it to Random House, and six months later we had a call and they said, ‘We wanna do this as a book.’” The first Cam Jansen mystery was based on child care, a topic Adler was familiar with since he began writing the book series during his time at home watching his son, while his wife worked as a psychologist. The author also made sure Cam kept Jewish laws, even though he was not an outright Jewish character.
“You can read all the books–there are almost 60 of them–you’ll never see him eating anything treif,” said Adler. “You’ll never see him do anything on Shabbat. I had one mystery that was taking place on a Friday afternoon. When I realized it would take longer in time to solve, getting closer to Shabbat, I changed it to Thursday.” He also said in his acceptance speech on Sunday night, “I try to infuse my books with as many Jewish values as I can. Being an observant Jew has given me Shabbat, community, and it has given me this award.”
Adler has written biographies in addition to the Cam Jansen series and explained situations when his pro-Israel stance can come into conflict with some assignments. He recalled one such instance: “I was asked to write a biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt and I told my editor that I have to mention that FDR abandoned the Jews lost in the Holocaust. I was told, ‘Why don’t you write a biography about Eleanor instead,’ and that’s what I did.”
Ginsburg similarly does not bend what she explained as her “extremely strong belief in Gâ€‘d.” She revealed that sometimes coworkers are even surprised that she is observant. “There have definitely been times where I’ve had colleagues come over to me and say, ‘I just can’t believe you’re Jewish or religious at all. They told me you were coming to meet with me and I was expecting some old frumpy lady from a 1920s village in Europe. And then you walked in and I was like “Wait, no. Is she really Orthodox? Is that what orthodox looks like today?”’ And it only turned into respect after that,” she said.
The Five Towns resident believes Jews are privileged to have strong religious beliefs and Torah values to guide them. She prays to Gâ€‘d before going into every meeting for work and said, “I really believe that He guides us and He puts me where I need to be when I need to be there. I know that without having a strong faith in Hashem–He’s there and watching over us–there’s no way I can do what I do today.”