Itís Not Just the Pancakes

Stanley and Phyllis Jaspan


What is it that makes the home of Stanley and Phyllis Jaspan the most sought after spot for WITS students for an out-Shabbos?


Maybe itís the food.This is not a matter to be taken lightly, because, as the bachurim will tell you, you eat well when youíre the beneficiary of Jaspan hospitality, not only for Shabbos meals but right on through the tradition of a pancake breakfast o Sunday morning.


But itís not just the food.


Maybe itís the other guests. So many yeshiva classmates are there. When the Jaspans open their house to company, whether itís from WITS or for a simcha in the Glendale community or any other reason, they open it wide.An entire minyan of WITS students can be found there sometimes on a Shabbos.


But itís not just the company.


Maybe itís the house.Itís comfortable, itís large, and the boys get the run of the place.


But itís not just the house.


At heart, the reason why WITS students are so eager to spend Shabbos with the Jaspans is the same reason WITS is so eager to honor them at this banquet.Itís the same reason why they are so beloved and respected in circles that ripple out from their immediate family to their neighborhood to the entire Jewish community to Milwaukee as a whole.


And that reason is the Jaspans themselves and the qualities they personify -- the strong, steady, sustained commitment to high principle, to doing chesed, to laboring hard and long for worthy causes, to extending themselves to others with graciousness and smiles and a demeanor that demonstrates both civility and caring.


Our compliments on the pancakes, but our honor is extended to the Jaspans as themselves.


Both natives of New York, the Jaspans admit they knew almost nothing about Milwaukee when they first headed here. After completing his second year at the Yale Law School, Stanley was offered a summer position with the Foley & Lardner law firm in Milwaukee.


ďWe came for the summer and stayed 30 years,Ē Phyllis says.

It has been a successful setting for Stanleyís professional life.As an expert in labor and unemployment lwa, he has been involved frequently in cases of national importance, including oral argument of a major employment case before the United States Supreme Court.He has been a key builder within the Foley firm as well, as it has grown to have offices in numerous locations and to employ about 1,000 lawyers. He is now Managing Partner of the firm from coast to coast.


And Milwaukee has been a successful setting for the Jaspansí personal life, with all three of their children born and raised here. Phyllis, who has a masterís degree in special education, says she used ďall my best teaching skillsĒ on her children, and they show the results admirably.Eliana and her husband, Michoail body, live in Chicago now and have three children, Meir, Devorah and Tamar.Talia and her husband, Shmuel Mashiach, also live in Chicago with their three children, Yael, Donny and Ami.And Avi, a graduate of WITS, is learning in the Rabbinical Seminary of America in Queens, New York, WITSí arenít institution.


Any list of the Jaspansí community involvement has to start with Congregation Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah and the rise of traditional Jewish living in Glendale.The Jaspans recall that when they moved to Glendale, there was only one other family that waked to shul on Shabbos.As the Jaspans and a handful of others began to grow in their observance, an Orthodox shul emerged in the mid-1980s. It started off in a home, grew into rented space in an office building and then into the attractive building that is the home of ASKT now.From just a handful o people, ASKT has grown into a vibrant, warm focal point of a close knit observant community.


You wonít get the Jaspans to tell you how central they were to all this. ďG-d works in His own ways and He just brought the circumstances together,Ē Stanley says. Phyllis sys, ďA group of people wanted to grow.Ē All true, but anyone who was there will tell you how important the role of the Jaspans was both in steering the course of the congregation and doing the grunt work that has made it what it is now.Phyllis admits that whey she sees the large number of people now walking home from shul on a Shabbos or Yom Tov, ďI get chills; is still moves me so tremendously.Ē


The Jaspans have been involved in numerous other community activities as well. Stanley is a former president of Hillel Academy, and Phyllis is a former vice president. Stanley is also a past president of the Milwaukee Association for Jewish Education, now the Coalition for Jewish Learning.Both Jaspans have been active in the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and in activities such as the Chevra Kadisha, and both are active and strong supporters of Israel -- So much so that they own an apartment in Jerusalem and go there as often as is possible.


Both Stanley and Phyllis have been strong advocates of WITS. ďIn the troubled time we are in, not only in secular society but in the Jewish world, institutions such as WITS become all the more important to provide education in fundamental values for the boys and for the community,Ē Stanley says.He calls the rebbeim of WITS role models for the community, and among the direst benefits he has reaped from WITSí presence in Milwaukee is a regular Thursday night learning session with Rabbi Jay Shapiro.


Phyllis says having the WITS boys come for Shabbos is a great pleasure. While WITS boys praise the Jaspans, ďwe just see the equation from the opposite sideóitís our privilege and pleasure to have them in our home, she sys.Ē She says she has been constantly impressed with how the b boys are ďsuch incredibly decent, fine young people.Ē


Thatís just like Phyllis and Stanley -- wanting to deflect attention and praise form themselves and focus on others.One of the ironies of honoring people is that it is often the ones who least seek the spotlight that most deserve it, and so it is at this event. But while they may downplay their own efforts, the record speaks loudly.Tonight is WITSí way of seeing that we hear the record, and we appreciate its beauty and worth.