It was a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon in early May as I sat in the Lloyd Street Synagogue observing and celebrating the first 10 years of the Harry Greenstein Legacy Society with members and their families. I couldn’t help recalling some of the first members from a decade ago whose stories made a lasting impact on me.
For Harry Klimen, THE ASSOCIATED was literally his family for more than 80 years. As a little boy, he and his three older brothers lived in two different orphanages owned by THE ASSOCIATED. In addition to a home, THE ASSOCIATED provided vocational training for the brothers. Harry joined the Young Men’s and Women’s Hebrew Association (predecessor of the Jewish Community Center) and volunteered in the coatroom. As an adult, recalling his own childhood, Harry was drawn to the Big Brother/Big Sister program, where he became the stable, loving adult in a child’s life. When he needed a place to live out his later years, a social worker from Jewish Family Services (now Jewish Community Services) found a home for him in what was then called the Concord House. Coincidentally, it was on the same piece of property as the orphanage where he lived 80 years prior. As he wrote in his personal legacy statement for the Endowment Book of Life, “Who do you leave your money to but your family? Throughout my life, THE ASSOCIATED has always been there for me. Now it is my turn to give something back.” Although he passed away many years ago, his legacy continues to provide for his family of Jewish Baltimore.
Sitting in that historic synagogue, thinking of Harry and so many other men and women who created legacies, I was reminded of what a legacy is all about. It is a way of coming full circle within one’s own lifetime. But it is also a way of connecting with the generations through the decades and the centuries. What more fulfilling responsibility can there be than helping bring legacy donors and the community together to enrich both?