From an early age, Stephen Moss could sense his family’s commitment to the Philadelphia Jewish community and the importance of giving back to those less fortunate.
It stuck with him.
“I was 11 when we went on a [Jewish] Federation trip to Israel with five or six other Philadelphia families,” he recalled, sitting in his Bryn Mawr office across from the 82-year-old man who showed him the way, his father and business partner, Stanton A. Moss. “At the time, it meant eating food I didn’t like — hummus and fish.
“We spent about eight or nine days in Israel. I just remember at the time it felt really different. I didn’t realize how important Israel was until I went back in 2003 and saw how much it had changed.”
By then, he was well on the way to following the lead of his father and both grandfathers in the importance of making a difference.
“My first introduction to charity came from my father, Benjamin,” explained Stanton Moss, who has worked hand-in-hand with his son since 2000 running Stanton A. Moss Inc., which specializes in buying and selling scrap metal — mainly aluminum and copper. He was president of Congregation B’nai Aaron, a Wynnefield synagogue.
“He taught me the reason we give back to the community is because other people need things who are worse off than us. Involvement is like our middle name, I guess. We were taught right. Then we chose to volunteer, participate and share, like we were taught.”
That’s a lesson he passed on to his own children.
“I was ‘exampled,’ not taught,” said Stephen, who’s serving — along with his wife, Meredith — as one of the co-chairs of the upcoming Jewish Federation Main Event at the Please Touch Museum on Nov. 10. “It was expected — supporting our own people — but it made sense to me, because no one else will.
“If we, as Jewish people, can’t support our own, who’s going to step up and support us? Right now, my 4-year-old daughter Madelyn goes with my wife and delivers bags from the Mitzvah Food Pantry.”
Madelyn’s father, meanwhile, is involved in all sorts of activities.
Later this year, he’ll receive the Myer and Rosaline Feinstein Young Leadership Award.
“It’s nice to be honored by the people I know in [Jewish] Federation who feel I’ve contributed over the years through my work — not just money — and try to help other people in a leadership phase get involved or stay involved,” said Stephen Moss, who grew up in Rosemont, attended Haverford School, then went off to Northwestern University and later the Villanova University School of Law.
“When I went back to Israel in 2003, you see it’s surrounded by countries with dirt huts and jeeps. Then you look at Israel, and it’s so modern and developed. And you realize they did all this development while always being under pressure of attack from three sides.
“That really touched a chord in me. I started to get involved in [Jewish] Federation and leadership development programs.”
“I’m very proud of him,” said Stanton Moss, recent recipient of the 2016 Scrap Metal Recycling Industries Lifetime Achievement award. “That’s quite a prestigious award [the leadership award] — and I knew the Feinsteins. Stephen could’ve sloughed this off and done nothing, but he has chosen to give a lot of his spare time to good things.”
Meantime, it turns out the non-ferrous (no iron) scrap metal industry has a Jewish connection.
“The industry was started by a lot of immigrant families, and many of them happened to be Jewish,” Stephen Moss said. “There’s a high level of Jewish involvement in the industry still. The business has been around basically my entire life. They started the office in our house in Rosemont when I was growing up 42 years ago.
“It’s nice to see and work with your father every day and, at least in the workplace, get treated as his peer and not his son,” 44-year-old Stephen Moss continued. “I have amazing respect for his work ethic and honesty doing business.”
The respect is mutual.
“I never had the reason to work with him before,” said Stanton Moss, who once was “buddies” at Overbrook High School with Wilt Chamberlain. “But he’s surprised me all the time with his ability to think outside the box and with his honesty.
“And his being involved in all the outside activities — both charitable and in our trade association — is good for business.”
This article is part of an occasional series of profiles of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.
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