Ross C. Levin
Growing up Jewish in Charlotte during the 60’s and 70’s, I was fortunate to have been a part of Jewish life that was not just a community, but more like an extended family. At the time, there certainly was no Shalom Park, and for a while there was no Jewish Community Center. Temple Beth El was located on Providence Road near Queens and Temple Israel was on Morehead near McDowell Street. While the two congregations were separated from one another by a greater distance than they are today, they were part of a smaller community so religious and social events drew those of one to the other. Especially memorable was my generation’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations that typically included a post service Oneg and an evening dinner dance with a mix of locals and out of towners. The memories of these celebrations and tradition, honoring the transition to adulthood, remain important to me.
The Amity Club (which would evolve into the community’s first JCC) was located in the Cotswold area and was a wonderful gathering place for both the young and old. I loved the Amity Club and fondly remember the many sports such as swimming, tennis, and softball and playing with friends in the pool. I enjoyed many dinners there with my immediate and extended Jewish family. It was such a warm and welcoming environment. As a result, I never realized we were there because Jews were not accepted at other clubs. Perhaps this was a good thing.
This community “mispacha” created one large family that provided us with close friends, great educational opportunities, and continued acts of generosity and charity for the health and growth of the Jewish community. We had inspiring examples of how to live as Jews. These role models were my parents, Donna and Norman, as well as Aunt Max and Uncle Al, Aunt Renee and Uncle Shelton, Aunt Marion and Uncle David, Aunt Paula and Uncle Norman, Aunt Vera and Uncle Jack, Aunt Connie and Uncle Paul, Aunt Barbara and Uncle Jerry, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Buddy, Aunt Charlene and Uncle Mike, Aunt Alene and Uncle Sammy, and so many, many more! It is this sense of Jewish family and community that defines my Jewish life. For that reason, I have established my Jewish Legacy with thanks in their honor.
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