"We want to be viewed as people who cared about the Temple. It wasn’t passive caring, it was active.
We participated, we talked, and we listened."
The importance of contributing a legacy gift is significant to Leslie and Jeff Graff and their daughters, Erica, age 22, and Brittany, age 20. Leslie and Jeff, who have been Temple Beth Sholom members for more than 15 years, speak with humility about how much the Temple means to their family, as well as how imperative it is that there is longevity for the Temple for generations to come.
Prior to their paths crossing in South Florida, they both came from families who were affiliated Jews, providing them with a solid religious background. They've been known as "Leslie and Jeff" since meeting in 1983 in 9th grade, dated through high school and attended FSU together, marrying in 1990. As busy working parents, they sent their girls to Lehrman Community Day School (where Leslie also attended as a child) and share that most Jewish identification came via that school. When they switched them to public school, many parents they met were Temple Beth Sholom members. Their gateway to joining came from recommendations about the Temple being nurturing, having active Chavurah groups, and being renowned as a high quality religious school.
Their story is abundant with touching anecdotes about their ever-growing involvement and appreciation of the Temple, that began with attending services as their daughters prepared for their B'not Mitzvah. They both call the Temple "a second home" that enriches their social life as well.
Of special note, Jeff credits former Executive Director Alice Miller as being instrumental in his participation in the workings of the Temple. She always sat with him at services and honed in on his professional expertise that lended itself to eventually becoming Chairman of the Budget Committee, Temple Treasurer and a member of the Spirituality Task Force. Leslie is a devoted volunteer for Mazon and has attended every Mitzvah Day since joining.
They all embraced the Temple and formed strong bonds of friendship with the clergy and congregants. In addition to their B'not Mitzvah, confirmation and youth group participation, Erica went on the Temple NFTY trip, was involved with the strategic plan focus groups, and Brittany captained one of the Mitzvah Day projects, attended High School in Israel, and is now actively involved in Hillel in college. They look forward to an upcoming family trip to Israel, and hope to belong here with their families one day.
Leslie and Jeff emphasize that "it's not about raising money for a specific purpose...to build a building or buy a Torah... we're raising money to keep Jewish life active on Miami Beach. We want to see the Temple succeed in perpetuity, keeping it viable...to be here for our kids, their weddings, our grandchildren." They're proud to be a part of the growing powerful mosaic of donors ensuring that this beloved Temple will thrive for generations to come.