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Temple Emanu-El director of education honored

Sisterhood of Temple Emanu-El hosts luncheon to celebrate an influential woman in the Jewish community.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. January 27, 2016
East County resident Sabrina Silverberg, who has lived in the area since 2003, was born in Egypt.
East County resident Sabrina Silverberg, who has lived in the area since 2003, was born in Egypt.
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It was 18 years ago that Sabrina Silverberg came to Temple Emanu-El in Sarasota looking for a preschool for her son, Sam.

She left with a job.

Almost two decades later, the temple is honoring Silverberg, an East County resident, at a luncheon Jan. 31 at 12:30 p.m. in the Benderson Family Hall at Temple Emanu-El.

The Sisterhood of Temple Emanu-El uses the luncheon to honor influential women in the Jewish community and Silverberg qualifies after spending the past 15 years as the director of education at Temple Emanu-El's religious school. She spent the previous three years as a preschool teacher.

"Her story is so inspiring," Temple Emanu-El Rabbi Elaine Glickman said. "She went from a wealthy, easy, privileged existence in Egypt, to having it all taken away so quickly. She had to start over in Israel, a foreign land to her, when she was so young, and she built a new life. It's so inspiring."

As a small child in the 1950s, Silverberg was living a luxurious life as the daughter of a tailor who designed suits for Egyptian King Farouk's inner circle. Silverberg had a full-time nanny and crystal chandeliers inside her family's wrap-around penthouse in Cairo, Egypt. 

By 1963, attitudes toward Jews in Egypt had changed and Silverberg and her family fled to Paris.

"Jews were being arrested on made-up charges, like espionage," Silverberg said. "There was a movement of nationalism and anyone who wasn't pure Egyptian was cast out and treated badly."

Her family settled in Israel in the mid-1960s. 

Silverberg takes pride in her roots as she teaches her students. Under her leadership, the temple's religious school has grown to 140 students.

She takes pride in her manner of teaching. An example is that to teach Hebrew words, she has students prepare recipes in which the ingredients are written in Hebrew. Silverberg shows films and teaches crafts that reflect the culture.

"I try to make school fun and engaging for the kids, so they want to be here," Silverberg said.

Silverberg will be a guest speaker at the luncheon.

When she moved to Florida in the early 1980s with her brother, Silverberg gained a greater appreciation for education as she earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from Tampa College.

She became a U.S. citizen and eventually she and her husband, Bruce, raised their sons, David and Sam, in Florida. She realized children and her religion were her two greatest passions, and she has pursued those interests and turned it into her career.

"My life has made me resilient and accustomed to change, but I also cherish stability and consistency," she said. "I love what I do."


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