Giving Back for the Future

Tom and Juli Bainbridge with Rabbi Bodney-Halasz and Rabbi Sofian

Tom Bainbridge joined Temple Israel after finishing his two-year service in the Peace Corps in Antigua and registered for a Basic Judaism course with Rabbi Bloom. Even though he was not Jewish by birth, Tom wanted to actively participate in raising his children as Jews with his first wife, Susie. He officially converted soon thereafter and began teaching at the religious school when his youngest daughter reached school age. This love of teaching led to 13 years in the classroom at Temple Israel. In one of his self-proclaimed bolder moments, Tom played Queen Vashti in the religious school’s Purim Spiel. He says: “My daughters witnessed this event and got a kick out of it. For someone like me who is rather introverted and often shy, it was way out of my comfort zone! Miracles do happen at Temple Israel!”

They certainly do. A few years later, after Tom and his first wife had divorced, Nancy and Rich Cohen invited Tom to Pesach Seder at their home. There, he and Juli began to get to know one another, and soon started dating. Even though Juli’s son had been in religious school when Tom was teaching, they didn’t know each other very well. All of that changed after their seder experience at the Cohens’ home. 

When he knew that Juli was “the one,” Tom proposed to her at Temple Israel on a Saturday morning. They were married in the sanctuary by Rabbi Sofian and Rabbi Bodney-Halasz, under the beautiful chuppah built by Burt Saidel. Over the years, both Tom and Juli have been active on the Religious School committee, they have each served on the Board of Directors, and they even helped with the very first Jewish Cultural Festival at Temple Israel in 2011. And their children were able to create a strong Jewish foundation at Temple Israel. Both of Tom’s daughters were members of the youth group and confirmed here, and Juli’s son had his bar mitzvah and confirmation in our sanctuary.  For each milestone, Temple Israel was there to support, guide, and connect them. When asked why he and Juli are both Lamed Vav members and Life & Legacy donors, he says, “Temple Israel has been a good resource and source of joy for both of us. Lamed Vav and Life & Legacy are our ways of expressing our gratitude.  Leaving a gift to Temple is a way of showing appreciation for 30 years of what Temple has given to us.”

Join Tom and Juli Bainbridge in making a legacy gift to Temple Israel, to ensure the next generation has access to the resources, people, and miracles that build a happy life.

We will honor all of our Life & Legacy and Lamed Vav members on Saturday, May 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Special Celebratory Shabbat Service and Luncheon.  Blessings will be bestowed on all families, honoring their dedication to Temple Israel and its future.  The luncheon will immediately follow. 

Giving Tuesday

Rabbi's Message - November 30, 2021

Rabbi Tina Sobo

It’s been a big weekend for Jewish Americans.  First there was Thanksgiving, with its meal prep, traditionally large gatherings, or pandemically small ones.  Then we could take advantage of Black Friday deals (last minute Chanukkah shopping anyone?).  Then Shabbat.  Then Chanukkah began on Sunday.  Then perhaps we also took a look at Cyber Monday deals from the COVID-safety of our homes.  And now, it's Tuesday.  But its still not just a regular Tuesday, its #GivingTuesday, which much like the American Thanksgiving traditions and commercial “holidays” around it, has grown in prominence over the last several years.

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.  The Tuesday which, as Rabbi Paul Kipnes writes, “moves us away from the popular narcissistic ‘gimme-gimme’ culture (gimme presents, gimme food) instead turns us outward.  We find ourselves being especially thankful for the food, the family surrounding us and the blessings that uplift our lives.  If only we could harness those warm fuzzy feelings and transform them into a force for tikkun… [Giving Tuesday] is a day when we are invited to give to others to act to create a better, brighter world.”  And this year, may it feel especially bright as we light our menorahs.

Whether you are waiting for online orders to arrive, or looking at a shiny new something purchased this weekend or not.  Whether you, or those in your household, are excitedly opening presents for Chanukkah, take some time today to give.  Be that monetarily to your preferred charities, donating new or used goods to others, or be that a simple act of kindness, or something else – use today to think about balancing the gratitude we have for the blessings in our lives represented by Thanksgiving, and for the freedom that Chanukkah represents, with acts that turn us outward to bring freedom and blessings to others.

I hope to see you tonight at Temple Israel to celebrate Chanukkah on this Giving Tuesday at our drive-thru and outdoor menorah lighting.  We encourage you to bring some donations from St. Vincent’s needs list, as we partner with them on this Giving Tuesday along with our Chanukkah fun!