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Mountain States Spotlight with ADL Board Member Marc Reissner

  • April 11, 2016

ADL Regional Board Member Dr. Marc Reissner shares his father’s legacy of Holocaust awareness and education, his passion for bicycling and the upcoming marriage of his son Ilan to Julia – both graduates of ADL’s Sturm Fellows Leadership Program!




How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

I was new to Denver in 1981 and originally drawn to ADL due to its reputation as a Jewish civil rights advocacy organization. I felt that by being involved in ADL, I could help to create a better society. I have been co-chair of many committees including the Education Committee, No Place For Hate®, Partners in Leadership (now Sturm Fellows) and the Hispanic-Jewish Dialogue. I now continue to be on the Mountain States Regional Board and a member of the National Commission.

What do you do in your professional life?

I am a periodontist.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a captain of a commercial ship, but fortunately I discovered I get sea sick. Then I wanted to be a forest ranger but my mom said she wasn’t sending me to college for that. Since neither of my earliest professional dreams came to be, I focused on becoming a health care provider.

Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY. My mother’s family was from Eastern Europe. My father, born in Nuremberg, Germany, was a survivor of Buchenwald. Shortly after my father’s immigration, he met my mother on a ski trip.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Passover because celebrating it connects me to my family and generations past.

What’s your favorite food?

Bagels and lox; sushi.

What’s a special place you have visited?

I have been to Israel ten times and enjoy being there because I am able to connect on so many levels. I also have enjoyed visiting Iceland, Japan, Chile and countries in the southern part of the African continent including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. That part of the world was just so different from our prior experiences – the people, the cultures, the wildlife, and the remoteness were all so unique and beyond anything I could have imagined from reading and seeing photographs.

What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

I have found travel an enriching experience. It exposes me to different cultures, political systems and economies. This makes me appreciate even more living in the USA.

What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

I am passionate about road cycling. I find cycling adventurous, liberating, physically demanding and meditative. It allows me to relive my youth. I have cycled on multi-day rides, including in Israel and Italy.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

On my bike or planning a trip on my bike!

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Our democratic society with the relative free flow of information.

Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

In 1949, when my parents were honeymooning in upstate New York, they were about to check into a hotel where there was a sign that read, “No Dogs or Jews Allowed.” How devastating this must have been to my father, who had only a few years earlier had his family and most of his community murdered or exiled for being Jewish.

Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?

I am aware of historic deep-seated world anti-Semitism and how governments and policies can quickly change. I view ADL as a safeguard for Jews and other minorities. I’ve been involved for many years in a variety of ADL’s projects including A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute and Project Pride. When I think of pride, I think of Jewish pride – Jewish strength and power are important to me, particularly given my family’s history. Judaism has a rich, strong culture and we have a mandate to instruct the next generation to cultivate that identity in the next generation while standing up to anti-Semitism on college campuses and supporting the State of Israel. ADL’s Holocaust education programs, our civil rights platform – these are all reasons why I got involved in ADL and continue to support it. It reminds me of when I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s. That was so tumultuous a time and yet it felt like we as individuals could change the world and our country and make a real difference. We still can.

Why have you and your wife chosen to invest in ADL as legacy donors?

My wife Susan and I have chosen to be legacy donors to perpetuate the valued work of ADL.

Complete this sentence: For me, ADL …

… embodies the tenets of a society we strive to become.

And on a more personal level, I am grateful for ADL because it is indirectly responsible for the marriage of my eldest son. Ilan’s oldest friend, JJ Slatkin, met Julia Jinishian while they were both in the Sturm Fellows Leadership Program. JJ told Ilan that he simply had to call this girl. Ilan, also a graduate of the Sturm program, called, and the rest is – or will soon be – history.