My son, Niv, knows the layout of the Simon Family JCC like the back of his hand.
He’s only five but can already point out the best kickballs on the white-top behind the building, the dogleg on the 6th hole of the mini-golf course, and how to reach max speed on the Noah’s Ark water slide next to the outdoor pool.
And, not far behind, you will often spot Niv’s two-year-old brother, Shai, as he waddles along and does his best to keep up.
I tell you these minute details to express what the JCC – and by extension, our Jewish community – means to our family. Our kids roam the halls with ease because, for them, the JCC is a place of comfort – much like my experience with the “old J” on Newport Avenue. And I believe a life immersed in Jewishness creates a bond that never breaks.
It’s hard to imagine a reality where mainstays like a JCC, synagogue, day school, and cultural programming don’t exist. But I also know the future is not guaranteed and that we must safeguard what we hold dear. That’s why my wife, Shikma, and I are proud to sign the Jewish Future Pledge, which states that fifty percent or more of our assets left for charitable purposes will be directed to efforts to strengthen and serve the Jewish people and/or the State of Israel.
We hope other young couples follow behind and recognize it’s not just the role of senior lay leaders to “sign the pledge” and preserve the future. The initiative requires young adults to step up too. Many of us have children who have begun their own relationships with the Jewish community so the time to act is now.
I think back on my formative years and all the memories intertwined with Jewish life. To name a few, I learned to swim at the “old J,” rode my bike in the social hall behind the chapel at Beth Sholom as my dad read the Torah, bounded between the sanctuary, Brody Auditorium, and Sandler Hall at Temple Israel, goofed off with friends in BBYO (many I still goof off with today), pledged AEPi with my soon-to-be fraternity brothers, traversed Israel on a Birthright trip and the list goes on.
I took advantage of so much Jewish programming simply because the organizations had the financial wherewithal to operate. And I doubt I would have the same connection to Jewish life had I spent all those years exclusively in secular spaces.
That’s why we must ensure similar Jewish experiences for the coming generations. I hope my contemporaries will join the Jewish Future Pledge initiative and also demonstrate their commitment.
It’s a pledge we owe our kids.
For more information about how you and your family can help secure a Jewish future in Tidewater, contact Tidewater Jewish Foundation President and CEO Naomi Limor Sedek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-965-6109.