Giving in Their Own Words

Liam Stokes and Betsy Rosen

Temple Beth El has been the constant in our lives since we moved to Charlotte in 2000.  Our first introduction was a meeting with Judy Schindler (and Mr. Schindler, aka, Chip) who assured us that it was “safe” to leave the Northeast and move to Charlotte.
Since then, we have experienced the mitzvah of lifelong friends, children, a congregational trip to Israel, B’nei mitzvah, shiva minyans, Wild Acres and an ever growing appreciation for the value of faith in our lives. In return, we have been blessed to be able to return the favor by contributing to Temple Beth El as members, sustainers of a fund named after our younger son and, most recently, through a legacy gift.

We look forward to an ever expanding appreciation for all that Temple Beth El offers.

Mark Rosen

Pay it forward

Across the ages, Jewish communities have thrived in many places all over the world. When we moved to Charlotte over 20 years ago, we were welcomed with a thriving Shalom Park with Synagogues and Jewish institutions.

This thriving community didn’t just appear out of nowhere. It was created by the people before us who did the heavy lifting of creating this community. As a young family, we donated as much as we could to the Temple but now that we are empty nesters, it’s up to us to help create that community for the next generation and give more.

We are grateful for those who have created community for us and we view it as our responsibility to ensure that our community continues to grow and thrive for those who come after us.

That’s why we give.

Fred Valfer

Two and a half years ago, Katie and I moved to Charlotte without knowing a soul in the area.  One of the deciding factors in picking the home we bought was that it was within 10 miles of Shalom Park.

We attended services our first Friday in town and loved the view behind the Bimah.  During the next few weeks, I came to Friday night services and met a few people who started making introductions for me.  In October, I joined the Brotherhood and the group has been welcoming to me and to Katie as well.  We have become involved with many synagogue activities and have made lifelong friends.

For this reason, we decided to leave a legacy gift to TBE to help ensure that others will benefit from this wonderful organization.

Paige Cohen

I remember when Mark and I joined Temple Beth El – new to Charlotte with our son, Anderson, in kindergarten. My religious background was Presbyterian, and remains so today. Mark was raised Jewish and together we’ve raised Anderson in Temple Beth El.

Our feelings of giving to Temple Beth El are two-fold. Our backgrounds are rooted by belief to support our synagogue and allow our community the benefit of the many cultural attributes Temple Beth El offers across religious lines. It’s important to both of us to build something and see the continuation go forward to the next generation, to set an example for our son to carry forward.

The second part of this is our participation. Going to services beyond the High Holy Days, serving on committees – walking our talk. We feel fortunate to call Temple Beth El our second home and place of worship.

Marshall W. Lindner Endowment Fund Created to Support Senior Programming

Thank you to Andrew and Gwen Lindner who have started a TBE Endowment specifically to sustain our highly-successful S.P.I.C.E. program.  This Endowment will subsidize annual programming and continue to support administrative needs.

After learning of this gift, Marshall Lindner reflects on how S.P.I.C.E. got started and shares his gratitude:
After moving to Charlotte in 2005, it was quite evident to Faylinda and me that there was virtually no senior programming for “youngish”, active Jewish seniors. Rabbi Schindler agreed, and a TBE Senior Task Force was formed. It was followed by a committee which we named S.P.I.C.E. Carol Sandler became my wonderful Co-chair, and together we formed a highly talented and dedicated committee. Thanks to Clergy staff from Rabbi Schindler and then Rabbi Knight, we planned and conducted programs which focused on fun, education, socialization and Judaism. We met our goal of having 12-20 participants initially. Today, we have as many as 140 at our programs! It has been a truly special joy of my life to see S.P.I.C.E. grow and thrive. When I learned of Andrew and Gwen’s incredible gift, I wept. My heart is full of love and gratitude to my children, and I will always be proud of them for insuring the perpetuity of S.P.I.C.E.

Bette Andrews

Temple Beth El feels like home to me. When I walk in the door I see people I know and feel the comforting surroundings. During my first years in Charlotte, TBE clergy counseled my family and me through some challenging times and that solidified my connection. I subsequently became compelled to give back and have had the privilege to chair two fundraising events, go through the Farber Leadership Program, sit on the board and work on various initiatives over the years. My son, who is now 21, grew up here and I credit TBE with helping to shape his Jewish identity.

I chose to become a Sustainer because I want to support this place where everyone has a home and everyone has something to give.

Deidre Grubb and Cyndee Patterson

Deidre Grubb and Cyndee Patterson are Co-chairs of TBE’s Development Committee. Here are their thoughts on why Giving.

Deidre Grubb:
I was very excited to join the Temple in 1994 when we first moved to Charlotte. My husband and I were young and thinking about a family. I wanted to connect with people in the Jewish faith. I am mostly what we call a High Holiday Jew. But through the years, I celebrated my Anshei Mitzvah, traveled to Israel with the Temple, and co-chaired the Shalom Park Freedom School. I have made lifetime friends from these experiences. I give to say “thank you” and I give so that the Temple will be here for future generations of Jews who seek to connect with other Jews.

Cyndee Patterson:
Temple Beth El has become a wonderful home for me. As a convert, it has been absolutely joyous to find a place where I can worship in a faith that mirrors my belief system. I believe it is important to support the things that you believe are important and bring value to your community. The Jewish community, particularly TBE, is where I choose to put my time and treasure because I want to know there will always be a safe, secure and sustainable reform congregation in the Charlotte community.

Barry Ezarsky

No matter where you live, no matter who you are, and no matter what your circumstances are, people have a tendency to surprise you with their thoughts, prayers and possible givings.

Growing up in a less fortunate financial situation, and having a father stricken with Multiple Sclerosis at the early age of 28, made our life strenuous to say the least. My parents believed in their hearts everything that Judaism stood for. They sent me to religious school early and wanted me to become bar mitzvah in our local temple. Being bar mitzvah 45+ years ago was not as expensive and elaborate as some of them are today. Nonetheless, to a family whose finances were stressed to start with, paying for the schooling as well as having a celebration after would inhibit our lives in a substantial way.

Our temple, as well as donors to various funds at the temple, brought resources to our family and enabled me to have an extremely special religious experience and to have a special day which included family, friends and various temple members. Throughout my life there were always things that were BESHERT (destiny), and one was the generosity of people who were there to enhance my life socially, financially or spiritually. I feel very fortunate for the way I was raised in that my parents gave me a great deal of substance to make me the man I am today.

To thank G-d and the people I have been so fortunate to have in my life, and to thank Him for all the help he gave my family in their lives, I give back with a fund named after my parents, honoring them by helping others in a way that we were helped all through our lives.

Vicki Hopkins

Leaving a Legacy Gift to the Jewish Community is an easy choice for me. It is important to me as I want to see our Charlotte Jewish community grow, be vibrant, relevant and have a presence and impact in the greater Charlotte Community. To know it will continue to be in Charlotte forever for my family and for all Jewish families from the newborns to seniors.

I moved to Charlotte in 1975 when the Jewish community was rather small and I had to search for it. I found it and it quickly became a big part of my life. I spent years being active in all the various Jewish organizations from the Federation, JCC, JFS, B’nai B’rith Women, Temple Beth El. It was the place I learned what it meant to be Jewish, as growing up we never belonged to any organized Jewish organizations.

Connection and community continue to be important in my life. My life has had many transitions which have been challenging to me. As I find my way now, my need for Jewish connections deepens. Continued Jewish learning, social action, spirituality and growth in new ways is the thread of continuity that breathes life into my heart and being.

Linda McLendon

My Legacy Gift has been a great gift to myself, a way to expand my kindness, compassion and mindfulness. It allowed me to focus on a future that did not include me and, to ask some heavy questions, like what would I like the future to be without me in it? What is most important to me? By practicing the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, my connection or partnership with G-d grows.

TBE is a place of peace; we welcome Shabbat there. It is a place where people know me. It is where we celebrate and where we grieve; where we remember the past and remain hopeful for our future. It is safe, and it is home. I want to make sure that Temple Beth El remains strong and is preserved for future generations.

I value our community, the traditions, our continued quest for social justice. I want to be in a partnership with TBE, to do my part, and the Legacy Gift provides a venue beyond regular donations to do just that.

I have a duty to the past, the present and the future, to give as much as I can with joy. My commitment of a Legacy Gift is a planned, deliberate way to make an impact… And, most of all, to express my gratitude for all that TBE means to me.

Annie Lord

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.

Susan Bogarad

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.