Although Don and I come from very different backgrounds, we are united in our commitment to philanthropy that ensures the continuity of Jewish and Israeli organizations for future generations.

Marlene: I developed a strong sense of Jewish identity from my parents, both of whom came from observant families. My mother was a Holocaust survivor who in early 1939 left her home in Vienna and moved to Belgium, France, and then over the Alps to Switzerland, staying one step ahead of the Nazis until the war ended. My dad grew up in London; his father emigrated there from the Ukraine around 1910; his mother came from Roumania. My parents met in New York City after the war, then moved upstate to a small town where they were active in their synagogue and Jewish organizations such as Federation and Hadassah. From them I learned the importance of giving back to the community, both in terms of annual giving and bequests, and of supporting Israel.

When Don and I moved to San Diego in 1986, I immediately looked for ways to make Jewish connections. Our daughter attended Temple Beth El’s preschool. We joined the young Congregation Dor Hadash, a Reconstructionist synagogue that was comfortable for Don as a convert and me as a Conservative Jew. Serving on the board and numerous committees, I found that the greater my commitment—by volunteering as well as donating—the greater the benefits. Through my Legacy Plan I want to support the San Diego Jewish community organizations that have enriched my Judaic life, including Dor Hadash and the JCC’s Center for Jewish Culture, where I’ve taken many classes. Another major philanthropic focus for both Don and me is ensuring that Israel has a secure future, through Federation, AIPAC, and Friends of the IDF.

Don: Out of respect for my Jewish fiancée, now wife, I converted to Judaism 40 years ago. I have never been a particularly religious person, either before or after my conversion. However, I have come to respect and admire the Jewish people. I especially feel an immense connection with Israel: their tenacity, their resourcefulness and their will to overcome hardship through the ages. Through our connections with AIPAC and the Friends of the IDF, I feel in a very small way that we are helping the Jewish people both survive and thrive.