I was very fortunate to grow up in Winnipeg in a very loving and active family. Memories of Shabbat dinners at my grandparent's homes and large family Seders will be with me forever. Conversations about Israel and the importance of giving back to your community were often a part of these family get togethers. My parents, Jack and Lillian Neaman and my grandparents, Alex and Anne Cantor and Morris and Luba Neaman were all very involved in the Winnipeg Jewish community. Each of them in their own way instilled in me a great love of Judaism. I am indebted to them for their examples, their teachings, their wisdom and their guidance. The most significant message that I learned from them was the importance of family, Judaism and tzedakah, giving back to my community, both with action and with dollars.
I am particularly grateful to my parents for affording me the opportunity to attend Ramah Hebrew School and Camp Massad. These experiences, combined with my upbringing, led me to become an ardent Zionist. I remember those experiences as if it were yesterday. At Ramah we used to bring money for trees on Fridays and each week we would purchase a "leaf stamp" until all the leaves were filled. I knew that my Uncle Joe and Aunt Gwen Secter and Uncle Dave Secter each had a forest of trees planted in Israel and I dreamed of the day I could go to Israel and see their forests and my "own trees" that had been planted with my Friday tzedakah money. Since 1973 I have made eight trips to Israel and plan to go again in 2012. Each time I am there, I am grateful to my teachers at Ramah and the staff at Camp Massad for my ability to converse in Hebrew.
As a teenager I was active at the YMHA, USY and BBG. As an adult, I followed in my mother's footsteps and became very involved in National Council of Jewish Women and Combined Jewish Appeal and I sat on the board of Camp Massad. I am a life member of both NCJW and Hadassah. When I moved to the United States, the Jewish knowledge that I had accrued in Winnipeg stood me in good stead. In Wichita, I have served on the board of the synagogue and currently serve as the assistant Gabbai. I have been president of the synagogue sisterhood, and president of the local Hadassah chapter. I just recently completed a three year term as the president of the Great Plains Region of Hadassah and now sit on the National board.
The core Jewish ethics, values and traditions that I grew up with are very important to me. I have been blessed with two wonderful daughters, both who got their start at Ramah Hebrew School and Camp Massad as I did, and I have endeavored to pass on to them these very same ethics, values and traditions. I am very proud to watch them carry on these traditions in their own families today.
I have made a commitment to the Endowment Book of Life for several reasons. Even though I no longer live in Winnipeg, my roots are very strong, and each year I look forward to what I call my "annual pilgrimage" to spend Pesach with family and friends. It gives me great personal satisfaction to participate in this most important project. It also sets an example for my children, Blaire, who is currently an assistant U.S. attorney in Charleston WV, and Lexi, is a low vision optometrist in Washington DC. My contribution also helps support community services and organizations, and, I hope, will also ensure that the community and the campus will remain vibrant and active so that many children can continue to benefit from them for years to come.