Leon Weberman Courage Award
In the fall of 1984 Marc Weberman, the treasurer of B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region’s Detroit softball league and Marty Melton, its Athletic Chairman, attended Toronto B’nai B’rith’s Annual Sport’s Dinner Banquet. They represented a cadre of seven Detroit softball teams that had just weeks prior participated for the first time in B’nai B’rith of Canada’s softball tournament.
Marc, who played in the tournament as a member of the Detroit Bloch/Israel B’nai B’rith softball team, proudly accepted the tournament’s championship trophy at the banquet that his team had won a few weeks before. Detroit’s inaugural entry into Canadian B’nai B’rith’s annual softball tournament over Labor Day weekend in 1984 changed the future course of this tournament and henceforth has been known as the International Jewish Men’s Slo-Pitch Tournament.
Since 1984 at least one member of the Weberman family has participated in every tournament, except one. In 2012, Marc’s youngest brother Bruce played in his 26th tournament, Marc’s son Jeff played in his 9th tournament and Marc and Bruce’s nephew Max played in his 1st. Over the years, Marc and Bruce’s brother Aron and his son Brian also played.
In 2010, Bruce Weberman and his family members established the Leon Weberman Courage Award to honor the legacy of their father and bestow an annual award to members of the International Jewish Men’s Slo-Pitch Tournament who exemplify courage and good sportsmanship.
Leon was a survivor of the Holocaust. As a teenager he witnessed unimaginable atrocities and endured hardships beyond words. Born in Lodz, Poland before the rise of Nazi Germany, Leon’s family was poor. Poverty was no blessing to be sure, but to endure the enslavement in the Lodz ghetto by the Nazi’s, the subsequent deportation of he and his family members to Auschwitz and the infamous death march to Mauthausen, another concentration camp, at the end of the war was a living hell.
It took courage to survive in the most vile of all the Nazi death camps. Often Leon would break into the Nazi officer’s food supply quarters to bring back food for himself and his fellow prisoners. The punishment inflicted on him when he was caught by the Nazi’s was intended to prevent him from further escapades, but even after being dunked head-first into boiling hot water and having both his legs broken, he still managed to get food down his swollen throat.
Leon immigrated to the USA in 1949 and met his bride to be, Freda Levine, a native Detroiter, in 1950. They married in 1951 and raised four boys, Marc, Eddie, Aron and Bruce. His proudest accomplishments were building a new life with Freda and providing his sons with educational opportunities he never had.
This award is both a testament to Leon’s courage as well as a reminder to us all of the inexorable spirit he and his generation demonstrated in the face of evil.
Past winners include:
- 2010: David Ettlinger and Ruby Goodman
- 2011: Mike Rothpan and Corey Bainerman
- 2012: Harlan Rossman and Mark Rothpan
- 2013: Harvey Katz
- 2014: Joshua Segal, Harold Grossbart and Lyle Schaefer
- 2015: Ben Sandmel
Honorees are announced during the Sunday Night Banquet.