Mary Ellen and Barry Ezarsky

The Yiddish word “Beshert” has special meaning for Mary Ellen and me. Our connections to each other and Judaism were always meant to be. I grew up in New Jersey, attended Hebrew school and became a bar mitzvah. We were not temple attendees. My mom hosted family for all the major holiday dinners. I have always been proud of my faith, but have not always practiced Judaism as I do today. After attending Kean University I married, began my career and had two sons. I moved to Charlotte in 1990 to pursue a new job allowing me to spend more time with my family. I divorced in 1997 and Mary Ellen and I married in 2001.

Mary Ellen’s family is originally from West Point, GA. and moved to Florida where she grew up. She moved to Charlotte in 1977, began her career, married and had one son. Mary Ellen was not born Jewish but often expresses the feeling of being born with a Jewish heart and soul. Her family had a special connection to Judaism through her mother’s best friend. This friend was part of West Point’s small Jewish congregation that was served by a student rabbi. When Mary Ellen converted to Judaism in 2008, we learned that the student rabbi was Judy Schindler’s father, Rabbi Alexander Schindler. Our wedding day and the day of Mary Ellen’s conversion remain as meaningful to me today as they were then.

In 2004 Mary Ellen became very ill. We were not temple members and there were no visits from clergy. While lying in the hospital Mary Ellen made the decision to study Judaism. She later chose to convert. In 2011 I had serious medical issues. During my illness we received amazing support from our clergy and our Temple Beth El family. Our involvement and commitment to Temple Beth El provided us with such comfort and reconfirmed Mary Ellen’s decision.

We take pride in Judaism, its responsibilities of the heart and feel a connection through our many Jewish friends and our temple family. We are drawn to the spiritual aspects of Judaism, giving back and helping others. Mary Ellen and I were taught to recognize God’s blessings. As our way of saying thank you and providing others we have named a fund at Temple Beth El to honor my parents. We take pleasure in sharing our time and treasure with others and believe Judaism teaches and commands us to do.

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