One brought Shabbos candlesticks, another a family photo. One held up a keepsake Thanksgiving platter, and still another showed her great-grandmother’s antique clock that was carried across the Atlantic in the early 1900s.
Though not quite talismans that embodied magical powers, each carefully selected item shared at this gathering carried Jewish memories and meaning for the participants. It was a JEWISHcolorado event designed to help create Jewish philanthropic legacies. Community members were asked to share an object that represented the values and experiences that shaped them Jewishly.
The gathering used the “My Story, My Legacy” guided legacy journal, produced by the Rose Community Foundation. The document provides prompts for guided conversations to bring words to the legacy individuals hope to leave for the future.
The legacy items and their stories
Retired CPA Alan Brandt brought the decorative top that was on his bar mitzvah cake 64 years ago. “I am going to give it to my grandson in two years to use at his bar mitzvah,” he said. “It is a small but tangible way to pass on a legacy.”
He also held up a ceramic figurine of a professor that he called “The Rabbi.”
“It demonstrates to me the importance of education and the ability to study and to share Judaism with future generations,” Brandt said. “I have been involved in the Jewish community for 45 of the past 47 years that I have lived here. It is important to me. What I want to demonstrate to my children and grandchildren is my work on behalf of the Jewish community.”
Denver attorney Ruth Malman grew up in a home where her family lit candles every Shabbos. “My job was to polish the silver candlesticks,” she recalled. “When I light these candles in my home, I think of my mother and father, my grandparents, and all the people around the table growing up. Jewish people really do have a mission to bring good into the world, and I think the only way to do that is to be connected. I hope that I have instilled that in my two children and brought others along in their journey, too.”
Investment and foundation manager Cintra Pollack displayed an item her great-grandmother brought with her when she immigrated from Vienna, Austria, in the early 1900s. “I have this antique clock from her,” Pollack said. “This is what she thought was important to bring with her.” The clock is a reminder of the appointed time of the Sabbath and how it reinforces the bonds of community among all Jews. Pollack said it was her maternal grandfather who taught her that building community is everyone’s responsibility: “His home of Oklahoma City would not have been as strong of a community if he had not been in it.”
Diana Zeff Anderson shared a photo of her family. “The value that is most important to me is a connected Jewish world and the continuity of that connection,” said Zeff Anderson. “I chose my family; they are my inspiration.” Half of her family has grown up in Israel, and the other half in America. “It is clear to me that their lives are very different from one another,” she added. “These two worlds need to come together.” Zeff Anderson said one of the reasons she is involved in legacy giving is that she wants to actively effect change for future generations.
Jackie Sprinces Wong stood against the backdrop of her extensive at-home Jewish library. “I believe Jewish education is what keeps the legacy alive,” Sprinces Wong said. She did not grow up with Yiddishkeit. “I had to find it on my own,” she said. “I had to read everything that I possibly could. I have a huge library, and that is what I am showing you. I believe Jewish education is what keeps our legacy alive.”
Dottie Resnick held up a Thanksgiving platter, a keepsake that belonged to her great-aunt that was passed to Dottie from her father, who passed away days before Thanksgiving. “It gives me some comfort and reminds me of family and community,” she said. “While we did not grow up with wealth, we always included strangers at our tables.”
Don Silvermsith talked about a photo that he had of his great-grandparents who came to Colorado in the 1870s and started a Jewish community here. His grandfather, Joseph Silversmith, was confirmed at Temple Emanuel in 1907. “The legacy of 150 years is important for me to continue,” he said.
If you would like to host a legacy conversation at your home with friends or family, please contact Jen Kraft, Senior Director of Design Philanthropy at firstname.lastname@example.org.