There’s no question that CBST has always been our spiritual home. CBST is where we started as a couple when there were just two of us going to shul. CBST is where I did my conversion, with Rabbi Ayelet Cohen.
When we brought our children home, CBST was the first public place that we brought either of them. CBST is where our children were named. So, there's no question that it will always be a very special place for us.
For us, CBST represents constancy, and history, and even now—as we are, you know, aging—there are folks at CBST who we haven't met yet. And that's beautiful in many ways, because there's a whole new generation of folks who will experience the shul and how welcoming it is and how it's truly for everyone.
To me, Ner Tamid means that we're a small part in keeping CBST accessible for everyone, especially for the generations to come.
We became legacy donors at CBST when we were living in Chicago and setting up our wills. We decided to leave a percentage of our estate to four institutions that meant the most to us—as a family, and as a couple—and had the most impact in the world. And CBST was one of them.
It's important for us to be a part of legacy giving because it's a way that we—especially as a non-heteronormative couple—can make a lasting impact on the world. Legacy giving is a way that we say, This is important to us. CBST is important to us. This is what we want our resources devoted to. It’s a way to leave a legacy.
Our planned gift is for our children as well, because long after we're gone—you know, God willing—our children will still be part of CBST. Hopefully we will be an example to them, and they will be a part of giving at CBST, too.
If someone were thinking about becoming a Ner Tamid donor, I would encourage them to reflect on why they're attending CBST. Is it the services? The community? Is it the social justice movement, and all of the programming? Is it the learning that we have at the shul?
Legacy giving is a way to ensure that whatever it is they love about CBST can continue long after all of us are gone. That’s quite impactful. Legacy giving is such a demonstrative way of truly living our values.
With planned giving, it doesn't matter where on the financial spectrum you are. What you’re doing is establishing a percentage of your estate to go to an institution, no matter how big or small, and that gift will be beneficial to the community that receives it.
That's an excellent point. I never thought that legacy giving was something that we could even do. But it’s about a percentage, and we all have a percentage to give. Just as we give zedakah, it doesn't matter how much you give. All giving is good, and it doesn't have to be a certain amount.
And again, that's all part of the accessibility of CBST. I feel valued, even for my small gift, and that's really important.
To me, Ner Tamid is important because it’s a way that individuals, couples, and families—no matter how they are created—can create lasting impact and change in the world.
Shelli and Narda are longtime CBST members and CBST legacy donors. They live in New York City with their two children.