Ma’asim Tovim 2011 – Hank Needle

A native of Greensboro, NC, Hank Needle graduated from North Carolina State University and spent the first 13 years of his married life in Seattle, Washington before returning to the South. While in Seattle, he would often accompany his brother-in-law to morning minyan at the Conservative shul. He felt a great sense of bonding with this small group which carried over when he moved to Marietta, Georgia and joined Congregation Etz Chaim. As he started attending minyan there, he formed a bond with several of the men in the congregation, which led to being asked to join Men’s Club. Times were tough back in those early days, but Etz Chaim was always there to provide support to the Needle family. Hank decided it was important to give something back, a practice followed by his parents and in-laws for decades. Upon joining Men’s Club, he found that he wanted to become more involved. Before long, he was on the Board and worked in several capacities, including Trustee, Programming VP, and President. Hank continued to be very involved on many levels working on various committees and projects. He is a key member of the “Best Breakfast in Town’s” kitchen crew, rising early to help cook for the monthly Men’s Club meeting. He has also been involved with the World Wide Wrap, having just concluded a very successful event at Etz Chaim with a record number of kids and adults attending. He has been involved with the Shoah Yellow Candle program including assisting with a very moving event last year in the synagogue’s Holocaust Garden. Hank continues to be involved in any way possible and constantly encourages new people to get involved, including encouraging his grown sons to take an active role in Men’s Club. In the early 2000’s, he was asked by a regional Men’s Club to attend the FJMC’s Leadership Development Institute, setting in motion his involvement on the Regional level. He has attended two LDI’s and 2 National Conventions, adding to his education about the organization. Hank has served the region first as Vice President and then as President of the Anshei Darom Region, providing leadership and encouraging involvement to men around the Southeast. He was one of the first chairmen of the Anshei Darom Retreat, an annual event at Camp Ramah in Clayton, Georgia. This event has grown in numbers and popularity over the last 12 years and serves as a great model for other regions to follow. On the synagogue level, Hank was a member of the Board of Directors, including serving as Corresponding Secretary on the Executive Board. Over the years his love of woodworking has been put to use and can be seen in several projects at Etz Chaim. He helped build the Ark as well as the wooden wall sculptures in the chapel, including hand-carving one depicting Jerusalem. The Rabbi also assigned Hank the task of building a large menorah to be used for the community Chanukah celebration. The menorah, built almost entirely out of PVC pipe and painted gold, stands almost 10’ tall and graces the synagogue’s lobby during Chanukah. All three of Hank’s sons – Josh, Ben, and Mark – became Bar Mitzvah at Etz Chaim, and all were married by the congregation’s Rabbi Shalom Lewis. His wife of 37 years, Karen, has also been extremely involved with the synagogue, from her many years on the Sisterhood board to her current involvement as an assistant for the Judaica Shop. Hank is a very proud father and father-in-law, and is especially overjoyed to be the grandfather of six amazing grandchildren. Professionally Hank has worked for Isuzu Commercial Trucks for 21 years. He is an avid lover of anything Jeep, including the 1950 Willys he has restored. Many Sundays find him working in his garage workshop; he is always looking for spare wood for one project or another. Instead of taking it easy now that the “kids” are out of the house, Hank has found the exact opposite thanks to family events and his continuing work with the Men’s Club. Life doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon!