My story begins many years ago when I was a child. My parents, Al G. and Shirley Brown, have always been philanthropic. Through their actions I have truly understood the meaning of tzedakah. On a regular basis, there was a knock on the door of my parents' house and men with white beards, wearing black suits, black hats and black shoes would appear and I was petrified! I would hide underneath our kitchen table. My parents knew I was frightened, but would continuously invite these men into our home. They would sit at our kitchen table and my mother would offer them tea. When they would leave, I pleaded with my very protective parents not to let these men in any more.
My parents, however, explained to me that even though they knew how afraid I was, this was one thing they had to share with me — that these men dressed in black came to collect money for many needy organizations. That was my first encounter with tzedakah and the time when I first realized that this was to become an important part of my life.
My husband's parents, Paula and Joe Krakowsky, are Holocaust survivors. They came here with so little, but still managed to always put aside funds for tzedakah and, over the years, have purchased two ambulances for Israel. The pleasure they derive from being able to give back is amazing.
We hope to inspire the value of derech eretz, a main tenet of Judaism, in subsequent generations in our community. We have been very involved with planning and fundraising for UJA Federation, with a main focus on education. We are committed to ensuring that every child is given the opportunity of a Jewish education and we hope our endowment will help guarantee the Jewish education of future generations.
As modern orthodox Jews, helping others is part of who we are. The core of being religious is being able to give. It's important for us to know that others will benefit from our legacy. We have so little control over life, but this is something we could take control of, and so we did.