June 18, 2018 Jaymi and Joe Formaggio: Why We Give
Ask us another time how we met. It is a cute story. But this is about our second date. Because on our second date, Jaymi felt it necessary to ask Joe, a graduate of a Catholic high school, how important his religion was to him. Whether he could see a life with someone Jewish, could imagine raising Jewish children. And he really couldn’t imagine it. We were in college, nowhere near thinking of marriage or children. And did we mention it was our second date? But Joe liked this crazy girl who was asking him about an unforeseeable future, so he said, “Sure…”.
Fast forward a few years. By now, we are married and have two baby boys. Our professional lives have taken us to NYC and then Seattle; the next adventure would be in the Boston area. After some rapid-fire house searching, we bought a house in Acton, and hoped it would become a home.
We enrolled Coby, and then Joshua, at the CBE Early Learning Center. We loved hearing our babies singing Jewish songs under their breaths as they colored. We sang “Good morning, Boker Tov” more times than we wanted to admit. We read books from the PJ Library. Joining CBE as members wasn’t really even a decision. It was a given.
During our 11 years as CBE members, we have each found so many little nooks where we can belong, where we can contribute. When Jaymi asked so many years ago about raising our hypothetical children Jewish, we had no idea that we would be so involved. That wasn’t the deal. It was CBE that drew us in, that made us want to contribute our time and our questionable talents. It was within the CBE community that we weren’t just another depressing statistic about interfaith families. It was here that we were all welcomed; where we were all valued.
So, when we had the opportunity to leave this congregation in a better place financially, we had to say yes. We attended annual meetings and talked to other members and saw how unsustainable this community could be. That we could all lose it. It was clear that our mortgage was burying us, that we had become “bayit” (house) poor. When the Hineini initiative began, we gave what we could. And pledged to continue to give.
April 16, 2018 Lindsay and Erik Rosenman: Why We Give
We met on a bus as teenagers headed to a BBYO dance held at Congregation Beth Elohim. It only seems fitting that this incredibly special place, which helped bring us together, is now a second home to us and our boys. Identity, community, personal growth—these are the gifts we receive from CBE and will continue to receive well into the future.
Hineni—I am here:
Here in the place where we met.
In the place where our children began their Jewish and secular education, where they are loved by teachers and clergy, and are recognized for their talents.
Here, where we have found a community that celebrates with us at the times when our hearts overflow with joy and embraces us when the sadness of losing a loved one too soon is unbearable.
Where people are passionate about what they believe in—education, social justice, equality, inclusivity, and more.
We are here—in a place where if a community member is in need, multiple people will jump to help. Where creativity and labors of love are supported and honored. Where we feel the drive to give back with our time.
Here, at CBE where, once we get off this crazy rollercoaster of parenting young kids and teens, we will be able to seize upon more opportunities to grow as Jews, to learn, to question, to connect with our heritage on different levels.
Pam and Jonah Laufer, who asked us to write this piece, said something to Lindsay about a year after we became members that has stuck with us. They said that when our kids are little, we would have those groups of parents who we see often—those on the soccer field, involved in the same theatre company, or whose children are at the same school. These are transient communities, the people who come and go, depending on children’s time of life or interests, but the CBE community will always be here—growing with us as we go through life’s stages.
Hineni—we are here because our home is here, because our community is here. We give to Hineni because we believe in the future of this loving, creative, inspiring place. Of this place that brings people together. The lower CBE’s mortgage is, the more resources there will be for CBE members of all ages and interests. For our family, for yours.
Hineni—we are here for the CBE of today and for the CBE of the future.
February 15, 2017 Shelley and Dan Klein
From the moment we joined Beth Elohim we felt fully a part of this beloved community. The activities, religious observances, travel, educational opportunities and beautiful facilities all drew us in. All of this was made possible in large part by the many who came before us.
But in 1990 just how extraordinary Beth Elohim is became instantly apparent. Shelley was in a near fatal auto crash in a foreign country while Dan was home with our two young daughters. He received the call from the Frankfurt police to, “Come quickly before your wife dies.” At 8:00 at night the only person Dan could think of asking for help was Rabbi Mintz. In short order he helped Dan think through what he had to do and take action. And all through the ordeal he remained available for consultation and astute advice.
But it was not only Rabbi Mintz who helped in that trying time. Many members of the Beth Elohim community went out of their ways to do what had to be done to help Dan get to Germany and to help with our daughters during the month he was away. Once we both got home and Shelley was in U Mass Medical Center for another month more members of our astounding community helped in more ways than we can recount.
If this were the only reason we had, we would support Beth Elohim with our all of our heart and soul. But the beauty of our community goes way beyond helping in a crisis. We have made some of our closest and dearest friends through Beth Elohim. The education and religious opportunities have been rich with all we could want in a synagogue. We have more than benefitted from the wisdom, friendship, and humor of our Beloved Rabbi (and now including our wonderful Cantor and Education Director, as well). The school did more than teach our daughters. It instilled a sense of genuine Yiddishkite in them.
We are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of all who came before us to support Beth Elohim and we feel a powerful and loving obligation to do what we are able for the present and future members of this wonderful shul. This is why we donated to the Hineni campaign and annually donate what we can to our beloved congregation.
February 1, 2017 Michelle and Chris Siegert
Why? Why did we contribute to Hineni? Why do we pay our dues and why do we belong to CBE?
The answer to all of these questions is really simple. We identify with being Jewish and want to retain our Jewish community in, as some have said with a giggle, the diaspora outside of Boston.
As many of you know, I was raised in Framingham in a conservative synagogue. Chris was raised as a Catholic but fell away from observing his faith. Shortly after Beth was born (almost 25 years ago, ouch!), we agreed on raising our family as ‘Jewishly’ as we could. We moved to Acton in part because we were looking for a synagogue that would be one in which Chris could participate comfortably.
And we found it.
Due to many aspects of life at CBE including but not limited to: the wonderful friends we have made, how meaningful services have been inside our sanctuary, and the resulting relationship that Chris built with Lewis, Chris decided to formally become a Jew, and submerged in a beautiful mikvah in March of 2008.
We are privileged to have the walls of CBE surround us, both in a literal and figurative sense. People are there to help us through both the joyous and challenging life cycle events. We feel so good and so renewed during the High Holidays services each year. We are proud of our children when they work hard in the Hebrew school and become comfortable on the bima themselves. Nothing makes a Jew more verklempt than seeing the next generation hold a Torah: L’dor v’dor.
And with privilege comes responsibility. It is our collective responsibility to help CBE survive and flourish. If we all pitch in, we can do it. If we don’t, then CBE will fail. Take a moment to think about how tragic that would be. We have a great pool of people – so much larger than when the first founding families committed to help CBE exist at all. Can you imagine what that was like? Moving your family to a town where no synagogue exists? And committing to establishing one? What bravery. And talk about prioritizing CBE financially? They did it.
The hard work has been done. We don’t have to be as brave as those initial families; we just have to prioritize CBE in our personal fiscal lives if at all possible. Any contribution is welcome – we implore you to join us in becoming the foundation that CBE can rely upon.