The Cincinnati Jewish community—both formally and informally—has been an integral and meaningful part of my life since the day I arrived here. My husband, Bernie Lenchitz and I are both transplants from northern New Jersey and Manhattan. We moved to Greater Cincinnati in the late 1980’s.

Cincinnati is blessed with dozens of Jewish organizations and agencies that exist to do good and help fulfill the unmet needs of its community members. Early on, I made the intentional decision to engage with several of these wonderful faith-based entities.

In 2001, we joined Adath Israel Congregation and I immediately became active. It was there that I continued to make close friendships and developed working relationships with many members of my new congregational family. I also began to study Hebrew ritual prayers, and immersed myself learning more about the ethics and values that guide our people. A dear, modern orthodox friend of mine once shared with me that doing chesed for the deceased is a special type of mitzvah and kindness as the recipients can never repay the good deed. (And of course, they will never know that any action was ever taken!)

Fast forward fourteen years later when a friend from Adath invited me to join the board of an organization that I was pretty unfamiliar with. Several phone calls, an in-person coffee and my questions answered, I eagerly joined trustees for Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati. The wise words from my friend of doing chesed came back to me at my first board meeting. 

Marlene and DavidThrough my board service with JCGC, I learned about this incredible endowment building program, Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL), from two extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic colleagues: Larry Neuman, Jewish Cemeteries’  CYJL team lead and immediate past president, and JCGC Executive Director, David Harris, who served as the Jewish Federation CYJL Development Officer prior to joining JCGC.

I learned the crucial importance of securing the future of our Jewish community via creating and growing endowments for many of its organizations and agencies. I understood how, especially for Jewish Cemeteries—that lacks a traditional membership and had not yet engaged in an annual fundraising campaign—legacy giving was the best way for me to help ensure the survival of this 14- year-old unique Jewish cemetery agency, which cares for 35,000 graves with 25 local Jewish cemeteries. So not only did I make a pledge and confirmed commitment to CYJL within a year of joining the Board, but I also invited my husband, Dr Bernie Lenchitz, to join me in participating in CYJL for JCGC.

It was very easy for me to decide to give to Jewish Cemeteries via CYJL. As I began to spend more time and energy working on a variety of projects, I wanted to actively “walk the proverbial walk” by putting my funds where I spent my time in the community. I realized how important the mission and work of JCGC is and that I had the ability to make a difference.  And if truth be told, it is very easy and straightforward to participate in the Create Your Jewish Legacy donor program. Every time I pay my respects to deceased friends who were buried locally, I reflect in a way knowing that we have helped to secure the future of this important Jewish agency through our gifts to CYJL. You, too, can have that incredibly, amazing feeling of securing our Jewish future when you decide to make a CYJL gift.