Laurie Sheff

A large part of how I define myself is through my children and how they are being raised. My husband, Jonny, and I take great pride in our three sons: Matthew, nineteen; Thomas, fifteen; and Ezra, nine. We see them developing into individuals with differing interests and strengths. Yet they all notice and are beginning to participate in the important and shaping act of tzedakah, in the same way we noticed our parents when we were youngsters.

As much as we try to emulate our parents, who are our role models, we credit our children as the inspiration for our continuing to grow in our leadership roles. As the incoming chair of UJA’s Women’s Philanthropy, I am excited about the opportunities and the challenges that lay ahead.

With two of my three children still living at home, I must balance family life with my community commitments. Yet this makes the experience that much more fulfilling, because my sons know that I am devoting my time and efforts for the betterment of our community. My community role blends seamlessly with my role as a mother, as my children are constantly watching and learning from all I do.

Jonny and I have infused our home with Jewish traditions and values. We have travelled to Israel many times, including going on special trips with our sons. Thomas’s bar mitzvah was celebrated there with forty-five members of our family, who came from various parts of the world. We visited the community of Sderot, which was the community Thomas had chosen to support through his bar mitzvah gifts after learning of the constant threat its people were forced to endure due to unprovoked rocket attacks. It was a time for us to appreciate family and our connection to our homeland all at once. It was also another opportunity to educate our boys about the scope and impact of how we are helping those at home and those abroad.

As my leadership responsibility grows, I continue to learn. I recently endowed my Lion of Judah gift so my gift will now be assured in perpetuity. One of my goals as chair of Women’s Philanthropy is to make certain that all women are educated about the ease with which it can be done and to encourage all women to actively participate in making our thriving community even better.


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