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Ensuring B’nai Israel’s Future 

Rabbi Matthew Simon and Dr. Sara Rubinow Simon Create a Legacy Endowment for Jewish Engagement
by Jonathan Salant

Rabbi Matthew Simon and his wife, Dr. Sara Rubinow Simon, shepherded the move of B’nai Israel Congregation to Montrose Road from 16th Street in 1976. They were there when the Thelma and Melvin Lenkin Education and Activities Center was dedicated in 2002.

And whatever next happens to the synagogue, they will be part of it as well.

To fund the next generation, they have set up the Rabbi Matthew and Dr. Sara Rubinow Simon Legacy Endowment for Jewish Engagement, seeding it with a contribution of $50,000.

The fund will help B’nai find new ways of reaching out to area Jews and involve them in the B’nai community.

The money will not be used for day-to-day operations but rather fund innovative ways of outreach beyond traditional programming,
such as training staff in providing new and different services; helping Jews observe home rituals such as keeping the Sabbath, building a sukkah and conducting a seder; and using social media and other technology to reach out to Jews beyond the four walls of the synagogue.

“This is really for programming,” Sara said. “Discretionary funds are often used for other purposes. This is for people on their Jewish journeys. It’s Jewish engagement.”

“It’s to reach out to people where they are to help them grow Jewishly."

Rabbi Simon added: “And help B’nai Israel. You need a rabbi and a synagogue to help them engage. Engagement is not automatic.”

And Sara said, “This is an opportunity to explore possibilities for engagement on whatever level, where ever you are on your journey to a richer Jewish life.”

“The big question is: What Jewish engagement? That will have to work itself out.” To that end, the rabbi will be given broad latitude to decide what to spend the funds on, in consultation with other members of the program and leadership teams.

“You can’t anticipate what they’re going to be,” Rabbi Simon said. “The most important thing is to not make decisions for the rabbi. It’s my responsibility to see that we have the money to do what the rabbi thinks needs to be done.”

He said the family could continue to add to the fund once it’s established and he hoped his children and grandchildren would carry on the legacy and keep the family’s ties to B’nai, meeting regularly with the senior rabbi to discuss the next pro jects on which to spend money. “We want it to be dynamic, not static,” he said. “It should be something that grows all the time with new ideas and new possibilities.”

Mon, April 12 2021 30 Nisan 5781