Richard J. Osborne
Our community is enriched with many great institutions. These vary enormously in their mission and the people they serve. From the Federation/UJC to the Symphony, from Public Radio to Jewish Day School, from United Way to Synagogues, they all provide vital services and benefits to our community. In our society, the availability of essential services depends on our willingness and capability to staff, fund, support and nourish these organizations.
Jewish communities have a religious and cultural tradition of supporting the needy and of creating the cultural and social structures that fulfill and enrich lives. Nowhere is this tradition stronger than in the smaller Jewish communities of the South. There is a clear understanding that if it is to be done then we must do it ourselves. So, we build the cemeteries, synagogues, and JCC, as well as JFS to assist those in need. We have done a great job of creating those things here in Charlotte.
I learned these lessons in Gastonia, a small city with a small but active Jewish population. Sacrifices were made by our predecessors to build a Jewish presence in Gastonia. This included the building of a warm and charming synagogue 30 years before my family moved from New York to Gastonia. The funds for the synagogue didn’t fall like manna from heaven. They didn’t come from UJA in New York, from the government or from the lottery. Jewish life in Gastonia was enabled and enriched by the shared sacrifice of generations of Jews who wanted to meet the most fundamental needs of their families and countless successor families whom they understood would never be known to them.
Communities prosper when everyone participates to advance those aspects that are important to them and for which they have a needed resource. Resources can be ideas, an investment of time and energy or financial.
I have made provisions for several organizations that effectively pursue missions that I feel are important. I hope everyone does the same to whatever extent they can. Often we implement our tzedakah through direct gifts. In societies fortunate enough to have built wealth, there also is a role for endowment giving, better securing the future of endeavors most important to us.
When our opportunities arise, we too must set aside resources to create or protect facilities and services that will provide for future generations. I have tried to do just that.
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