While growing up, both of our parents instilled in us the importance of the Jewish community. Stephen’s parents, Max Z"L and Anne Handelman, believe in donating time to community causes and were very involved in Federation and other charities. Carol’s parents, Lionel and Ruth Fisch, have strong Jewish values and remain dedicated in their support to both Israel and their community in New York.
We were raised to be committed Zionists and it was Israel that brought us together, as we met while studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. One of the things I remember Stephen telling me was that he donated all his bar mitzvah money to the Jewish National Fund. That wasn’t common back then and made a nice impression on me about the similarities in our family values.
We have now been married for 22 years and have been blessed with five wonderful children. To show how much we value Israel and the broader Jewish community, we made a decision to establish an endowment to support the community and ensure it keeps growing and continues on the path it is on today.
Today, the Jewish people represent less than a quarter of one percent of the world’s population, so the odds appear to be stacked against us. But we remain a strong community and we believe that is very much because many Jewish people live their lives to give back.
Most importantly for us is to pass on our values to our family, the mitzvah of tzedakah and the importance of making themselves a valuable part of their community. We can already see that the message is being instilled in their hearts and minds. Not only have our children joined us in volunteering and helping to raise funds in the community, but have worked as a volunteer firefighter in Israel, a counselor at a camp for victims of terror in Israel, participated in the March of the Living, actively contribute to their synagogue and attend Jewish Day Schools.
We hope our children will learn to appreciate that giving back doesn’t just make the Jewish community stronger - it makes the world a better place for all people. And that’s the way we should all strive to live our lives.