Julius and I moved to Charlotte in January 1952. We had been married one year and were expecting our first child. He was from Gastonia and I was from Barnwell, SC, a town of 1,900 people, three Jewish families, no synagogue, no Torah, no Rabbi, no Hebrew school. We didn’t receive a formal Jewish education but had a strong Jewish identity. Our parents kept kosher, observed all holidays and each house had a blue box to receive tzedakah, almost every day.
Our arrival in Charlotte was our big chance to live a Jewish life within a Jewish community. We moved on a Tuesday and the next week I was folding bulletins at Temple Israel on Dilworth Road. There were meetings, rehearsals for musical productions, fundraising, committees, ardent and sometimes heated discussions but most of all the true beginning of our spiritual growth.
The Charlotte Jewish community provided the tools that we needed to be the Jewish family we would become. Temple Israel, UJA, Hadassah, BBYO, the Hebrew Cemetery and the Federation all received our commitment and many hours as volunteers. The community flourished and we were the beneficiaries.
Through my mind’s kaleidoscope of memories I can still see and feel the joy of my children and my grandchildren’s B’nai Mitzvahs. At the age of 65, I too became a Bat Mitzvah girl. Julius died in 2007. We had 56 years together. I was privileged to have shared my life with this truly loving, kind and generous man.
People ask me why, at my age, I am still an activist in the Jewish community. My answer is simple. My focus in recent years has been Temple Israel. I believe the future for Jewish life in America begins in the synagogue. This is where the seed for Jewish life is planted. That seed is nourished by Hebrew schools, junior congregations, rabbis, cantors and teachers. This is where children, with their nickels, dimes and quarters learn to practice tzedakah. Someday, these children will insure the success of Jewish institutions through their own philanthropy. If I truly love Judaism, it is my duty to perpetuate this belief.
I am honored to have served as co-chair of the Book of Life during its inaugural year. As a family that has received so much, it is my responsibility to endow the future for our children and the generations to follow. It is with pride and joy that I am a member of the Book of Life.
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