Don and Rhoda Mains: We learned the meaning of tzedakah from our parents, a Hebrew word meaning much more than charity. It is compassion, service and financial support to those in need, and to institutions that serve the community.
All the agencies serve the community so well, and they need the financial resources to carry out their missions. And our support for those in need in Israel and throughout the world has been and continues to be critical.
It is with all of this as background that we are once again serving as Federation Campaign chairs, privileged to be co-chairs with our friends Bonnie Resnick and Alan Milavetz.
Bonnie Resnick: I’m excited to take on this challenge with Alan and Rhoda and Don. I like the idea of stepping up to do this now that Alan and I have four adult children, modeling for them the importance of giving back. I like doing this with Rhoda and Don. I admire how they give with warmth, generosity and clear vision.
Alan Milavetz: I served as president of the St Paul Jewish Federation and was a prior campaign chair as well. Why do it again? I’d like to say no and sit on the couch and watch sports rather than attend meetings. But I realize that our institutions are precious resources that need support. I know that the only way to ensure the strength of all of our institutions is to help them with federated giving. A gift to an organization like Federation, which distributes our money to an array of Jewish organizations, is the best way to help Jews in St. Paul and around the world, so that is why I get off the couch!
Don and Rhoda Mains: We’re lifelong Minnesota residents, Don born in St. Paul and Rhoda in Worthington. We've both been involved with the Jewish community for a VERY long time. Don recalls asking college friends for gifts to support the fledgling state of Israel in 1948, and he was part of a young leadership group in the United Jewish Fund and Council (UJFC, predecessor to the St. Paul Jewish Federation) in 1950. Rhoda came on board ten years later. That's over 60 years for both of us, nearly as long as our marriage of 65 years.
Bonnie Resnick: I grew up in St. Louis Park at Beth El Synagogue and attended the Minneapolis Talmud Torah. At age 17, after my mother married Elliott Karasov, I moved to St. Paul and finished my Jewish education at the St. Paul Talmud Torah and have lived in St. Paul for over forty years.
Alan Milavetz: I have lived in St Paul for most of my life. My earliest memories are with my parents (Bob and Micki Milavetz) living in an apartment with my siblings, Stacy and Jamie, on Montreal Ave. across from the Ford Little League Field. We used to walk to the post office, up the block to Ben Franklin, and to Powers. My great grandparents, both tailors, Morris and Ida Belkin lived on Ashland; my mom’s parents, Morris (insurance) and Bernice Yellen, lived on Wellesley; and my dad’s parents, George (dentist) and Minnie Milavetz lived on Bayard. George was a late arrival to St Paul, moving from Ely and Virginia, Minn. in 1945.
Don and Rhoda Mains: Growing up during the Great Depression, Don recalls his parents and their friends giving money to families and organizations to support those in need. In 1935, the United Jewish Fund and Council, predecessor to the St. Paul Jewish Federation, was formed. Its mission was, and still is, to fund and support these agencies and to serve the Jewish community locally and overseas.
We value the proud legacy which our forebears built and want to contribute to its continuation as we enter this new decade. Through our involvement in Federation and other agencies, we have had the privilege to know and work with many wonderful people.
Through the years, members of our community have responded generously to help meet the needs of organizations in St. Paul, the Twin Cities Jewish community, and our wider Jewish Family in Israel and throughout the world. The local agencies the Federation supports, JCC, Jewish Family Service, Talmud Torah, JCRC, Sholom and others, serve so many in St. Paul. These agencies have been a significant reason why we have a strong Jewish community in St. Paul. And, again, it is the support we all give to the St. Paul Jewish Federation that makes this possible.
Bonnie Resnick: I love Judaism and its teachings about the importance of community and acts of lovingkindness. I believe we are all connected. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us helps another in our community, we are all strengthened. When I was a teenager, the Federation helped me by giving me a scholarship to attend Camp Ramah and years later gave me a scholarship to attend college in Israel. I am very grateful for how these opportunities shaped my love of Judaism and community. The Jewish community also embraced me when I lost my sister, Heidi last year. We all struggle in life, and it’s comforting to be able to turn to the Jewish community for support during those times and to celebrate together during times of joy.
Alan Milavetz: My mom’s family belonged to Temple of Aaron and my dad’s family to Sons of Jacob and Mount Zion. Bonnie and I were married at Temple of Aaron and our children have had Bris’s and a baby naming at Beth Jacob and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at Mount Zion. I have deep roots here in St Paul. Bonnie and I have lived in this community since 1985. We have raised our kids here and participated in our community. I want to keep St Paul strong and vibrant for all of our families.
Don and Rhoda Mains: Passover. We have two children, and they and their families do not live here. Passover is the time we are all together to celebrate this special holiday.
Bonnie Resnick: Shabbat. Although I am not a strict observer of Shabbat, I like the idea of it and would like more of it in my life. A time to chill out and be freer of the stress of everyday life. A time to go inward and think about what really matters.
Alan Milavetz: Pesach. The message of freedom is so powerful and resonates today. The Seder with song, poetry, ritual and food connects me to my ancestors, and particularly my family. Passing down the Seder to my own kids and their cousins has been very important to me.
Don and Rhoda Mains: Don and Rhoda served on nearly every agency board in the community (That’s 19 boards both within and outside the Jewish community). Rhoda was president of Jewish Family Service, Don was vice president of St. Paul Jewish Community Center, and both were campaign chairs and presidents of the St. Paul Jewish Federation. They’ve been involved in many capital campaigns including serving as co-chairs for the Sholom St. Paul campus.
Bonnie Resnick: Bonnie chaired the Federation’s young leadership committee when she was 25 years old. She worked as an education director at Beth Jacob and a B’nai Mitzvah tutor at Temple of Aaron and Temple Israel. She has served on the boards of St. Paul Talmud Torah, Beth Jacob and the St. Paul Jewish Federation. She has taught Mussar Yoga in the Jewish community.
Alan Milavetz: Alan served as president of the St. Paul Jewish Federation and as a Federation campaign chair. Among his other board and committee service, He currently serves on the board of the Friends of B'nai Abraham, a nonprofit created to restore an Iron Range synagogue built by Alan’s great grandfather and his brothers. The building is now a museum and cultural center that preserves the history of the area’s Jewish community and serves as a cultural center.
One gift. Many mitzvot.