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“It’s the idea that the Temple will be here even when we are not.”

For Susie and Ben London, proud parents of two young sons, Raif and Lane; making the decision to give to the Legacy Campaign was born out of a personal philosophy that’s been handed down through the generations. Ben tells us that “people often give to big organizations they know little about; charity is more meaningful when it’s personal. It’s a part of your daily life. Put your dollars where your heart is.”

Interestingly enough, Ben’s connection to his Jewish heritage began with a few bumps along the road. Born and raised reform in New York City, his family belonged to Temple Shaaray Tefila, of which, as he recollects, he was not a huge fan, having been kicked out of religious school and having had to beg his way back in to have a Bar Mitzvah. “I’ve always been interested in Jewish history rather than the religious part of Judaism. My grandmother came over from Poland in the 1930s, and always drilled home the importance of being Jewish.” He fondly recalls that all of his grandparents were charitable to Jewish causes, their synagogue and other charities. He adds that the family real estate business started by his paternal grandparents is one both his father, who was brought up Orthodox, was involved in, and to this day, he is.

Susie, a school psychologist at Hebrew Academy, is a Miami native, whose mother was raised in Cape Town, South Africa by an Orthodox family and whose father hailed from Rhodesia, growing up reform. She says, “There was never a part of my life that I was without Temple. I grew up in an insulated Jewish community with a love for Israel, which I visited for the first time when I was 17. I consider myself a Jewish American, not an American Jew.”

Ben’s most cherished youthful memory is visiting Israel prior to his Bar Mitzvah. He was impressed by the armed tour guide’s stories of the Golan war, thus strengthening his attachment to the Jewish homeland in both a cultural and national manner. He eventually focused on Middle Eastern history coursework in college. Later on, while Ben was attending law school in New York and Susie was attaining her Master’s Degree, they were set up by a mutual friend.

After marrying and moving from New York back to Miami; they inquired about joining a Temple and were referred by Susie’s friend to Temple Beth Sholom. “It just seemed ideal, warm and loving, when I walked in,” she says. Before long, their son Raif was attending the Foundation School, Rabbi Pomerantz performed Lane’s Bris, and the family participated in Tot Shabbat, annual Mitzvah Day activities and forged a meaningful closeness to Rabbi Pomerantz, as well as the entire synagogue.

Ben concludes, “To Susie and me, to honor our family’s memory and their history of giving, this gift was a combination of continuing that family legacy, as well as giving to a worthy cause that has personal significance to us.”

Sun, December 15 2019 17 Kislev 5780