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Former Ohio Jewish Communities Executive Director Joyce Garver Keller Dies

Joyce Garver Keller, former Ohio Jewish Communities executive director, died unexpectedly on Monday morning, leaving a community in shock.

Garver Keller, a much-beloved and highly respected community professional, retired last June after 25 years with Ohio Jewish Communities, where she worked on issues involving long term care and support for the elderly; healthcare, including Medicaid & Medicare and Holocaust education; and, the creation of the Statehouse Holocaust Memorial.  During her tenure, she helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funds for Jewish agencies in Ohio.

She was actively involved with the Columbus Jewish Foundation as a fund holder, member of the Legal and Tax Advisory Committee, and Jewish Needs Committee.  The Foundation honored her at a well-attended special reception just a year ago.

As noted in a statement to the Cleveland Jewish News by Mitchell Levine, rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim, “Joyce had a lot of spirit and a lot of energy, so it’s a huge shock, and her loss will be felt in virtually every corner of Ohio.”

She served as President of the National Association of Jewish Community Government Affairs Directors and was recognized by her colleagues with an Excellence in Community Service Award.

“She was really one of a kind. She was a mentor to so many people in and out of Ohio in the community advocacy field, and a guide to so many public officials in understanding our community and working with our community,” said Howie Beigelman, who succeeded Keller as executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities. “Everything we do each day is based on the foundation she laid. She reached across the aisle to both parties and worked with everyone. Really, anything we do is a testament to the foundation she laid here, and the organization’s credibility and access starts with that foundation.”

She is survived by husband Steven Keller, son Stuart Keller (Michelle Dubrow) and grandchildren Izadore, Harry and Simon.

A May 4 service is scheduled at 10:00 AM at Congregation Agudas Achim.

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