Circle of Love
By Jaynie Schultz
In light of the tragic passing of Rabbi Panken z’l, these sentiments are more relevant than ever.
My mother died February 24, 2018. As time has passed I have been reflecting on her legacy and my role as her daughter, as a mother to the next generation of community leaders and what I want my legacy to be.
Her theme was generosity. Leslie Vile Schultz was generous to the core. She gave time, money, ideas and energy to everyone who asked and some who didn’t!
I would like my legacy to be one of gratitude. I was blessed to be my parents’ daughter, my childrens’ mother and to be able to be included in many projects with people who have directed the Jewish future.
When Mom died, word spread like wildfire, despite the fact that she passed away on Shabbat. Almost as quickly came the offers of help. From the funeral onward friends and community members took care of everything for us, from meals to helping my father move. Not a day goes by when we do not get calls, cards and offers of comfort. So beyond the extensive generosity of time, spirit and means, what does this teach us?
I received a condolence call from a friend whose parents are much like mine in their philanthropy and community activism. In that conversation I realized something really important that changed the way I view philanthropy.
Jewish tradition teaches that we are required to give and for that we are blessed. There is no specificity to the blessing and we are certainly taught not to give only for that potential blessing. Any rewards are ambiguous at best.
When we were growing up we didn’t play “house,” we played “meeting.” Not a birthday, anniversary, holiday or special celebration went by without a gift to a nonprofit. My parents gave millions and percentages way beyond the traditional tithe of 10% to Tzedakah. They lived humbly and made certain we knew that their success was a gift from God. We should never feel entitled to the wealth they earned; anything we receive is a gift. We are expected to give significantly ourselves and gifts in the Schultz Family name always include contributions from each of us.
So, in speaking to my friend I realized that the time and money given to the community by my parents has come back to us in comfort and concern. Everywhere we turn people are reaching out offering hugs and words of praise for my mother. The schools we support sent notes from students of all ages sharing what they love about their schools. One Rabbi told me that every “amen” and every lesson learned on campus is a tribute to my mother. The respect given by the students when I come in the morning to say Kaddish is a daily reminder of what my parents did for us.
I felt stricken with sadness for the families of people who never gave and only passed their wealth internally, within their family. Many people think they are being thoughtful when they spend their time only by making money and giving it to their family, but they are actually leaving their children a very lonely legacy.
Many years ago I learned from Rabbi Benjamin Blech that when we study the concept of the sins of the father being passed down, it could mean that parents who do not provide an education for their children do pass on sin because the children are the ones who suffer from ignorance. The same could be said for giving. My parents have given so much and we, their children and grandchildren, benefit directly and very personally through the comfort offered by our community. My son, Micah, calls it a “circle of love.” Had my parents shared their time and treasure only with us I would certainly feel much more alone right now. Dallas Pastor, Mack Fleming, said, “what you honor rewards you.”
If you honor only your family then they will stand alone after you are gone. If you honor your community as well, you stand surrounded by many.
The lives of generous people such as Rabbi Aaron Panken and my mother will continue to comfort their families for many generations to come.
Jaynie Schultz is from Dallas, Texas. She has served nationally on the boards of JFN, FJC, Moishe House, JESNA, iCenter and currently on the JDC Board.