Gerson and Wilma Asrael
Gerson and I were born in Baltimore and were raised in kosher orthodox homes. Gerson’s family met every Saturday night for a deli dinner at his maternal grandparents’ home, and every Sunday, my family visited our grandparents and other close relatives. We were both raised valuing family and Jewish organizations which we learned to support with time and money.
We met on our first day at Baltimore’s Forest Park High School and we married 12 years later, in 1960. Gerson graduated from the University of Maryland medical school and I became a registered occupational therapist. Our first child was born in Houston, Texas where Gerson was a resident in urology. After two years in Bethesda, Maryland, where Gerson served a required military stint as an urologist at the Naval Hospital, we moved to Charlotte. From 1966-1998, Gerson practiced at the multi-specialty Nalle Clinic. I brought Lamaze childbirth and La Leche League (breastfeeding advice and assistance) to the Carolinas, serving for eight years as their first state coordinator. I also worked as a consultant in sexuality and disability for 12 years at Charlotte Rehabilitation Hospital and then was in private practice as a sexuality and relationship therapist.
Charlotte’s Jewish community welcomed us from the beginning. We immediately joined Temple Israel where all 4 of our children became B’nai mitzvah (with Rabbi Richard Rocklin). Gerson volunteered his time as a lay Mohel. He never charged for this service, though it was joked that he accepted tips from multiple generations of Jews in Charlotte. In 1970, we helped organize the Hebrew Academy, where I volunteered and Gerson served for several years as president. Over the years, we have volunteered our time and supported many other Jewish organizations. The most soul satisfying for me was the Butterfly Project which I heard about from a friend in California and which I helped coordinate from conception to dedication of the Butterfly Sculpture in 2010 in memory of 1 1/2 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.
We moved to Atlanta in 2014 to be closer to our children, Michele, Mindy and David and five of our grandchildren. We visit Joel and our other 2 grandchildren in Denver often. When we left Charlotte, we felt it was important to leave a legacy gift to the Charlotte Jewish Community that we so loved.
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