In his speech at our wedding, Elisa’s father said: “With privilege comes responsibility.” We were both raised in homes in which our parents demonstrated a commitment to community, but this particular message resonated deeply with us and sparked a strong commitment to tzedakah.
While this message propelled our commitment, our business lives impacted the direction and nature of our involvement. We are both entrepreneurs, whose success has resulted from pursuing innovative strategies, doing different things, and doing things differently. We have tried to bring that same entrepreneurialism and innovativeness to our tzedakah, launching many new initiatives, and trying many new ideas over the years.
We became particularly concerned with finding ways to affiliate the unaffiliated of our generation, and put much of our focus on getting our peers informed, connected, and involved. We launched such new initiatives as the Young Business Network, ATID, Ben Gurion Society, and inTO (a publication of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet), as well as providing leadership to existing programs like Family Philanthropy Forum and the Business Cabinet.
We were both extremely privileged to participate in the Wexner Heritage Program, which was another defining element of our Jewish identities. We were blessed to experience intensive Jewish study with world class rabbis. Because we studied as adults, we were able to internalize the fundamental tenets of what it means to be a Jew in a deep and profound way.
Wexner re-energized our commitment to Judaism, tzedakah, and tikkun olam, and also made us more deeply appreciative of the value of Jewish education. It ignited in us a determination to make Jewish education accessible to those not serviced by mainstream educational facilities, and to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to study in a way meaningful to them. As such, we are now directing a portion of our tzedakah to that area of focus.
Nothing is more important to us than family. We try to teach our children – Dani, Adam and Sydney – through our example, and also encourage their own direct participation. Tzedakah is a family affair in our home and our children are learning by doing.
With privilege may come responsibility, but it is a privilege to have this responsibility.