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“Temple Beth Sholom is Encouraging: Compassion and Connection”

Jaleh Samway Bast, her husband Jeff Bast, and their children, Micah, Hannah and Max are a classic example of how multicultural backgrounds have blended together to form their inspirational spiritual journey here at Temple Beth Sholom. Their desire to support the Legacy Campaign is fueled not solely by Judaism, but also by a sense of “connection to community, culture, education and family,” says Jeff. He elaborates that the Temple provides the fabric for their connection to Judaism and believes there are many people like them. 

Both born and raised in South Florida, Jeff came from a secular Jewish family with no temple connections. He lost his mother at age 10. He didn’t have a Bar Mitzvah, but in growing up his family observed the Jewish holidays, with his grandmother being the most observant Jewish component in his life. Jaleh grew up in a mix of cultures and religions, with a Catholic-American father, a non-practicing Muslim-Persian mother and a beloved aunt who married a Jewish man. Their close-knit family then merged their respective traditions together, celebrating all of their holidays. Interestingly, some family history has revealed that Jaleh’s great-grandparents in Iran/Russia were called “Bubbie and Zayde,” leading her to believe she, too, has some Jewish roots.

They were married in 1998 by a Rabbi and a Jesuit Priest, Jaleh’s father’s cousin. “I always thought that I would convert to Judaism if it was important to my partner, and agreed early on that we would raise our kids Jewish,” she says. 

Their first involvement here began with Hannah attending preschool, followed by Max. Jaleh taught Mommy and Me for 2 ½ years and also helped organize parent education workshops. Jeff adds that “we always enjoyed our time here; it was our connection – a nice bridge to the community, our Jewish community.” They very much connect with the clergy and always participated in Mitzvah Day as a family to teach their children the value of giving back.

As their children got older, they became less engaged, and credit conversations with both Rabbi Pomerantz and Rabbi Davis, who suggested the upcoming Magical Mitzvah Tour to Israel as a means of reconnection. They decided to go, along with 10 family members, and also had Micah's Bat Mitzvah there. This life-changing experience strengthened their ties to the clergy, other congregants on the trip, and the Temple. “It was magical, it was beautiful, it was much more than I expected," says Jeff. 

The Basts love the High Holy Days, finding them warm, welcoming and compassionate. Hannah sings at the Unplugged Services, and all the children enjoy participating. They want people to know that for them, the Temple is like one of those friends that is always there for you, even though you don’t talk all the time. “With no pretense, or expectation, we will be there for the Temple, and feel fortunate to be able to give back,” they say.

Wed, August 21 2019 20 Av 5779