Alene Cohen Strause ז״ל & Sam ז״ל Strause
Our story is similar to many of our friends in Charlotte and around North Carolina. Our parents made sacrifices creating a Jewish life when it wasn’t easy being Jewish in the South. We were raised in observant Jewish homes and expected to continue those traditions. It wasn’t always fun but it is something Alene and I can now fully appreciate.
My experience growing up in Fort Mill, SC was different than Alene’s growing up in Gastonia, NC. Her family was active in Gastonia’s reform congregation. We had to travel to Temple Israel in Charlotte for our Jewish education. I can remember my brother and I taking the bus to go to religious school. When I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah I came to Charlotte every Friday night and often spent the weekend with friends, going to services on Saturday.
We both were involved with AZA and BBG in high school and came to Charlotte often. There were conventions around the state and we met a lot of people that way.
It was important to both of us to be active participants in the Jewish community. It was much smaller than it is today and it was everyone’s responsibility to be involved. We developed a strong network of Jewish friends and our neighborhood evolved into one with many Jewish families. At times it seemed they were all Jewish, which was great for our children.
As we became more involved we began to make some of the same sacrifices that our parents made for us. It’s hard to tell your children what to do if you don’t do those things yourself. This involved giving of time and finances to support the Jewish community. You have to give back to develop an environment conducive to raising Jewish children and grandchildren, a priority of ours.
The best thing we’ve done in Charlotte was to create an infrastructure of solid Jewish organizations that promote strong Jewish values. The Levine JCC, Jewish Family Services, Temple Israel, the Day School and the preschools are all important parts of our community. BBYO has become something of a family tradition and lays a foundation for future leadership and participation. Alene and I were involved with AZA and BBG as our children and grandchildren have been.
I’m proud of the way we’ve helped create those institutions for the next generation. It will be their responsibility to make sure that they continue to thrive in the future.
ז״ל Of Blessed Memory
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