Alvin ז״ל & Helene Levine
When I think about my connectivity to Judaism there are several thoughts that immediately come to mind: my involvement in AZA as a teenager, my connection with UJA, Israel and Shalom Park. Each of them, in their own way, has helped shape who I am.
Helene and I both grew up in small towns with few Jewish families. I grew up in Rockingham, NC, and came to Charlotte in 1956. Helene grew up in Lebanon, PA, and came to Charlotte in 1968. Helene received formal Jewish education but there was no Sunday school or temple for me to attend. My first real exposure to formal Judaism was through AZA.
As teenagers, my brothers and I, would come to Charlotte to visit my sister and attend AZA events and conventions. It was through AZA that we established lifelong friendships that we continued when Leon, Sherman and I settled in Charlotte.
Both of our parents were charitable in their own right, although they never had the capital to give back in the manner they may have liked. After creating a successful business, I felt as a fortunate person that it was my responsibility to give back. I began to take more of a leadership role as a volunteer and a donor.
My first real involvement with Jewish philanthropy, other than Temple Israel, was with UJA. Israel captured my imagination and plays an important role in the survival of the Jewish people. It still motivates me today. When I first visited Israel in 1967, it was more underdeveloped and had many more physical needs than it has today. It was important then to raise funds to support Israel and we both feel it is just as important now. My daughter lives in Tel Aviv.
I am proud of my involvement with Shalom Park and the significant role it has played in bringing people together. Our community functions much better now, as a unit, but it is still important that we continue to sustain each of the individual organizations and help them prosper.
Helene and I are not religious people but we take pride in being Jewish. If an individual is fortunate enough to be successful in life financially, then you have an obligation to give back. In the future, we would like our children to be involved in this process. It is important that the next generation be conscious of the needs of their Jewish and secular community.
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