LIFE & LEGACY Helps Dayton Jewish Community Ensure Traditions for the Next Generation

There is no greater reason to create a legacy than for our children and the countless generations that will follow. After all, this is why we do what we do ~ why we work so hard, try so hard and strive to make the world a better place. Through the LIFE & LEGACY program, we get to do just that as a community.

When our CEO Cathy Gardner and I were thinking about the LIFE & LEGACY program, and who would spearhead it, two names instantly came to my mind ~ Debby Goldenberg and Michele Dritz. You can only imagine how thrilled I was when both accepted the offer to chair the program.

A longtime proponent of the Dayton community ~ both Jewish and non-Jewish ~ Debby has served many roles, including President of the
Jewish Federation. Her passion for the community runs deep. “Dayton is a wonderful place to live and bring up a family. Within the Jewish community there could not be a better support system both in good times and tough ones,” says Debby.

Debby’s connection to her Judaism is strong. She has especially fond memories of the holidays. “Many of the holidays are hosted at our house. We thrive on the warmth and joy of love and friendship that exude during holiday times. We are among friends and family and surrounded by meaningful rituals,” says Debby. Life cycle events are also very important. “They are very emotionally charged and steeped in tradition.”

Chairing the LIFE & LEGACY program is a natural fit. “One could not ask for a better way to be remembered and be cherished by subsequent generations than by leaving a legacy gift,” Debby says. “It is not the dollar amount that is as important, but the act of Tzedakah and the promise of caring for those who we leave behind. We are responsible to our fellow Jews and if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will. How can we not be the stewards for our own generations to come?”

When Debby is not busy with her numerous volunteer commitments, she and her husband Bob love to travel. There is one place they go back to again and again ~ Israel. “We have made many wonderful trips there and will look forward to another trip this fall for the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel 70th Anniversary Mission and General Assembly.”

We are responsible to our fellow Jews and if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will. How can we not be the stewards for our own generations to come?

~ Debby Goldenberg
LIFE & LEGACY Co-chair

Although Michele is newer to the Jewish community, she has immersed herself and become an invaluable leader. Raised in the Catholic faith, Michele is raising a Jewish family. “Without ever formally converting, I found myself early on trying to find a way to raise our children in the Jewish traditions while still honoring the traditions of my upbringing and family. Luckily, we have been able to create new traditions that honor all sides of our family, while also helping teach inclusion, tolerance and respect for others,” says Michele.

She is particularly fond of Friday night Shabbat. “I find myself looking forward to Fridays and relishing the opportunity to slow down and spend time as a family. We light our Shabbat candles (using the candlesticks our Dayton Federation gave me many years ago), we say our prayers and we share our homemade challah together as a family. Not only does Friday Shabbat give us an opportunity to take a much needed breath after a long week, but it also helps build a tradition for our children that centers around being thankful for family and our many blessings, including being part of a long and vibrant Jewish tradition.”

Michele describes the Dayton Jewish community as welcoming, warm and inclusive. “There seems to be a space for everyone in this community. Regardless of whether your connection with Jewish life and this community is cultural, religious, social, or something else, the Dayton Jewish community does a wonderful job of creating space for all,” says Michele.

Michele is a great choice to chair the LIFE & LEGACY program with Debby. “None of us would be here today if it was not for the commitment of those who came before us in keeping the Jewish traditions and culture alive, Michele says. “It is easy to recognize in everything around me that Jewish life is so much more than religion – it is a culture, a community and a sense of who we are as a people that has stood the test of time for countless generations despite sometimes the thinnest of odds. As the beneficiaries of the commitments made by those who came before us, we all have an opportunity and obligation to continue to keep those traditions alive and to keep our Jewish community strong for countless more generations.”

As the beneficiaries of the commitments made by those who came before us, we all have an opportunity and obligation to continue to keep those traditions alive and to keep our Jewish community strong for countless more generations.

~ Michele Dritz
LIFE & LEGACY Co-chair

A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, LIFE & LEGACY is a four year partnership program that assists communities across North America, through partnerships with Jewish Federations and Foundations, to promote after-lifetime giving to benefit Jewish day schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities.

For more information about LIFE & LEGACY, contact Janese R. Sweeny, Esq., Foundation Director at (937) 401-1542 or jsweeny@jfgd.net.

LIFE & LEGACY is a partnership between the Jewish Foundation of Greater Dayton and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in collaboration with the Dayton Jewish community.

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