Anshei Darom Region of the FJMC

Ma’asim Tovim 2021 – Meir Niad

Meir grew up in Pembroke Pines, FL in an unaffiliated Jewish family. After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Digital Media and a BS in Information Technology, Meir was hired in 2005 as a software engineer for a small company in Orlando that manufactured tracking units for fleet vehicles. In 2006 he married his first wife, and the couple relocated to Oak Ridge, TN in 2007.  Meir’s son, Lewis, was born in 2008, and his daughter, Lilah, was born in 2010.

Until this point Meir had little personal interest or education in Judaism other than Chanukah. In 2012 Meir began his journey into active Jewish learning and living by joining adult classes.  This path eventually led to membership at the Jewish Congregation of Oak Ridge (JCOR), where he flourished by being actively engaged in the Jewish community.  Working with his fellow shul leaders, Meir was able to increase awareness and participation at JCOR.  Meir served on the board for 4.5 years including 1 year as Vice President and 3 years as President. Meir also cofounded the Men’s Club in 2014 and served as its first President.  In those roles he was especially proud of the success he had with fellow members who helped him to share Judaism with the general public by hosting a booth at the town’s annual Secret City Festival.  JCOR became the synagogue where Meir “grew up” as a Jewish man.

In 2019, Meir left JCOR.  By this time, he had 5 years of Men’s Club experience under his belt including attending every Anshei Darom Region retreat since 2014, the 2015 FJMC Convention, and 3 LDI weekends.  At the 2018 LDI Meir accepted his new role as regional Executive Vice President.  FJMC and the Anshei Darom Region had claimed a special place in his heart and proved to be an organization to be a part of for life. It was also in 2019 when Meir revealed his newest project: co-founding a new men’s club based out the local Jewish Community Center; the Greater Knoxville Jewish Men’s Club is an area club that welcomes all men, regardless of movement labels.

The year 2020 will stand out in Meir’s memory forever. It began with great joy as he married his besheirt, Abby, on New Year’s Eve 2019. The simcha continued with his reading of Torah as part of an adult group b’nei mitzvah.  When the pandemic swept in Meir was furloughed from his Systems Analyst position with Regal Cinemas’ corporate office. He then sank even lower with the unexpected passing of his friend and club co-founder Bryan Merrell.  Unemployed for 4 months, Meir was rescued when he accepted a new position with the US Department of Energy, and at about the same time, being asked to participate in the Marketing Task Force for FJMC rekindled his flame.

Meir would like to thank the men of Anshei Darom for bestowing upon him this great honor; with special thanks to the regional leadership team of Charles Richards, Jim Handler, Alan Lightstone, Mark Isbitts, and mentor Steve Dix. He would also like to dedicate this moment to the memory of two great friends and mentors that we have lost in recent years: Steve Krodman of Woodstock, GA in 2019 and Bryan Merrell of Knoxville, TN in 2020. Steve and Bryan were the gold standard of what it means to be a mensch.  Thanks beyond words goes out to Meir’s wife, Abby, for always being in his corner with love and support. Also, thanks in advance for countless more hours of “Men’s Club Work” that she will have to live with 🙂  To his children, Lewis and Lilah, your dad hopes that one day you will be able to look back and understand all of this effort that he put toward Jewish Community near and far and be proud of him.