I was living in Raleigh, NC the first time I heard about Shalom Park. I was intrigued. All of those Jewish entities sharing one space? We all know that if you put two Jews in a room you have three opinions. How could this possibly work? My enchantment with Shalom Park was a major factor in our move to Charlotte. And in just seven years of involvement with this community, I have witnessed just how much vision and work goes into that balance.
Once we moved to Charlotte, choosing a temple came down to being reform Jews. Harrison was raised in a family that was always active in Raleigh’s reform synagogue; it was such a priority to them that they drove an hour to get there. On the other hand, I often joke that I am a URJ (Union of Reform Judaism) success story. I wasn’t active in any part of the Jewish community; being raised in Miami, FL, everyone seems to be Jewish. In high school I joined NFTY (the URJ’s North American Federation of Temple Youth), which led to going to the URJ’s Camp Coleman as a counselor (where Harrison and I met, 17 years ago). As reform Jews, Temple Beth El is the only synagogue in town for us. It’s where our children are growing up. It’s where I had my Anshei Mitzvah. And it’s where I have truly embraced my Judaism, and become proud of my Jewish identity.
Being beneficiaries of all that Shalom Park has to offer, we want to do all that we can to keep the Park and all of its Jewish entities thriving. We want this special place to be around for every Jew who enters Charlotte to find their niche. We can’t imagine a Charlotte without Temple Beth El in it. The Legacy program gave us the perfect opportunity to give beyond our current means, and even beyond the time when we are physically able. And we love that the final example we are setting for our children is the act of giving Tzedakah.
Roz Greenspon & Marty Birnbaum
It was the end of November, 2013. While talking with Sara Schreibman, we learned Cantor Mary Thomas was going to Chicago to attend a national synagogue symposium. The symposium agenda would focus on cutting-edge concepts that were being initiated by Temples around the country. These concepts would inspire members toward increased involvement in activities of Temple Beth El.
After Sara’s presentation about the goals and outcomes, we felt it all sounded good. So, we offered a financial gift that would cover expenses for the trip as well as cover the budget to initiate a project upon Cantor Mary’s return.
In January, 2014, Sara invited us to a follow-up meeting with Cantor Mary. When we walked into the meeting, Cantor Mary threw a “bear hug” embrace around Marty’s neck, saying, “Thank you, thank you for funding the trip. It was inspiring and helpful!” She added,” I’ve already begun implementing the ideas. I want this to quickly become reality.” She glowed with energy. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
In twenty minutes of non-stop descriptions, Mary explained, “These ideas are cutting edge. TBE young adults and families with young children will find it fun -and easy – to connect with other members, many of whom will become leaders of the Temple.” She paused, took a deep breath, and clearly stated: “Time is of the essence.” She patted her baby bulge. “We plan to deliver this boy in about 6 weeks.” Understood! Time was of the essence.
The first funded project, The Porch, has already been proven to be successful. The Porch has become a critical entryway into life at Temple Beth El.
In December 2014. Sara, Rabbi Judy, and Cantor Mary asked us to consider funding an additional “good idea” aptly named, Jewish Living Groups. This activity engages intergenerational members who have a particular interest in the focus of a group, such as Bourbon & Banter and Tiles and Tribulations. We, the Greenspon-Birnbaum’s, have lived in Charlotte’s jewish community a long time – Roz 52 years and Marty 26 years. That’s long enough for us to recognize how much our lives have benefited from the Jewish-based culture and lifestyle we have experienced throughout these years. Now, as we “age up”, we feel fortunate to be able to help insure these kinds of valuable experiences will continue to be available for many people for many years to come.
Interested in learning more about TBE’s Adult & Family Engagement Fund and Young Families and Young Adults Fund? Please contact Sara Schreibman.
Sera & Marvin Callif
When Marv and I found out about the Legacy Program we immediately decided to create a legacy in our name. We have always been supportive with our volunteering and time, but being retired and on a fixed income, we have been unable to contribute as much as we would really like.
When we found out about the Legacy Program and that we could authorize a set amount to go to Temple Beth El from our estate which could be increased or decreased at any time, we immediately knew this was our way of contributing to the synagogue.
Out of our six grandchildren only one is Jewish, so it is left to us to help as much as we can with the continuation of Judaism. Marv and I now feel that we will have a small part for years to come in the growth of Temple Beth El.
Thanks to the Callifs for their gift.
Marc & Laura Lewin
We joined Temple Beth El in 2001 soon after moving to Charlotte. Since then, the temple has enriched our lives.
Within a short time, we gained a strong sense of connection with Charlotte’s Jewish community and met some of our closest friends. We have taken part in so many classes, workshops, youth groups, Kallot and most recently celebrated our second family b’nei mitzvah.
We sincerely want the temple to continue to thrive for our family long after we are gone. For this reason, we decided to include Temple Beth El in our long term estate planning.
Thanks to the Lewins for their gift.
Gary and I were an Interfaith couple when we were married. We relocated back to Charlotte in 1992 and discussed joining a synagogue and raising children in Judaism and the Charlotte Jewish Community. After researching the synagogues, we decided to attend services initially in Temple Beth El in early 1994 when I was pregnant with our second child, Elliot. We had such a warm welcome by the congregation and Rabbi Jim Bennett. We decided to enroll our daughter, Casey, in Religious School and Hebrew School for that September 1994.
We joined the Jewish Community Center during the same year. Casey had instructional swim and ‘graduated’ to become a member of the Swim Team. Elliot enrolled in the Charlotte Jewish Preschool at age 3. Both children felt the Jewish Community was ‘their home away from home’. Casey and Elliot were lifeguards and swim instructors. Casey went onto become a Coach of the JCC swim team.
As we attended services and prepared for each of the children’s B’nei Mitzvah, I became very interested in Judaism, history and traditions. Eventually I became a Jew by choice after attending classes and study.
Gary and I want to give back to future generations. We knew we could do our part by being part of the Legacy program. We are so blessed to be part of our amazing congregation at Temple Beth El and have remarkable clergy and staff. Our goal is for our children and our children’s children to have a ‘home away from home’ that is thriving with Temple Beth El.