The Jewish people as a whole have always lived with a fierce determination and strength to not only survive despite adversity but to thrive. Throughout the generations, Jews have always contributed substantially in many ways – to community, to culture, to business and more. Look at Israel and what our people created from nothing but sand and rock! I’m proud of our heritage.
I give tribute to my mother for instilling this pride in me and for being a model of Jewish values - particularly when it comes to giving. My mother, Faye Mendelson, was always involved in some community cause – whether it was B’nai Brith, Hadassah – or simply a request for help from someone in need. She was there. When I was just six years old, my mother sent me out to sell B’nai Brith raffle tickets. I walked three blocks before I sold a single ticket – but there was a lesson in that walk that I have carried with me ever since.
To give is a mitzvah – for both the giver and the receiver. I am blessed to have the means to give and I extend my Tzedaka to and beyond the Jewish community. There is need far and wide. I also believe strongly in giving a hand-up not a hand out so people can hold their head high.
Be a mensch in life, in business and in community – this is what my mother taught me and what defines my Jewish identity. I think she would be proud. And today, I am so proud to see my own three daughters carry on the legacy that my mother taught me. Alysse Unger Luepann, Lori Unger Gutmann and Karen Unger Burstein – each give with their heart, their wallet and their time. Like my mother was to me, they are role models to their children and are teaching them what it is to contribute and give Jewishly.
My message: Teach your children well. Walk the talk. From generation to generation… and together we can make a stronger community and a stronger Israel.