Saturday, December 27, 2014 Tevet 5, 5775

Signing Their Names in 'Book of Life'

March 8, 2012 By:
Lynn B. Edelman, Jewish Federation Feature
Comment0

Larry Kovnat was born in the United States just after his parents emigrated from Latvia. He has always had a deep appreciation for the "many blessings" afforded him as a Jewish American and has devoted much of his life to sharing these blessings with others.

Kovnat's involvement in Federation began at the age of 15, while studying for his confirmation at Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

"I saw an article in the Jewish Exponent about the need for volunteers to distribute Federation pledge cards in their neighborhoods," he said, adding that he went door to door soliciting support for Federation throughout his North Philadelphia neighborhood.

"This is how my relationship with Federation began," he explained, adding that, "for more than 65 years, I have tried to do all that I can as both a Federation donor and volunteer to help Federation help the Jewish community." He said that he believes that Federation touches the lives of all Jews by "perpetuating the concept of tzedakah -- Judaism's exhortation that we are responsible one for the other."

Upon retirement from a satisfying career in counseling and human resources, Kovnat intensified his Jewish communal involvement. He assists new Americans and visits patients in nursing homes under the auspices of Jewish Family and Children's Service and serves on the board of the Jewish Chaplaincy Service. He describes himself as "an active congregant" of Old York Road Temple-Beth Am in Abington, where he regularly attends Shabbat services.

Now 83, Kovnat is aware of his own mortality. He signed a letter in the Book of Life, a program of the Federation Endowments Corporation, to make certain that his commitment to Federation and the people it serves will transcend his lifetime.

The Book of Life is one way the Federation Endowments Corporation honors Circle of Partners members like Kovnat -- men and women who have been involved with Federation as donors and volunteers for 25 years or more.

Susan Lundy, Endowments officer, explained, "Throughout the pages of the book, Circle of Partners members share their personal history, their feelings about the Jewish community and their hopes for their family and the Jewish world. Federation will create a document incorporating these values and this knowledge. A copy of this important testimony will be shared with Book of Life participants and with the Jewish community."

Circle of Partners member Sylvia Boodis is a familiar face at Federation's Super Sunday. She is the person who meticulously maintains the coat room and personally greets phone-a-thon volunteers.

Boodis stays at her post until all volunteers have picked up their coats, then she packs up her car with the leftover food and personally delivers it to a homeless shelter near her Center City home.

Boodis' devotion to Judaism and the essential Jewish value of tzedakah is in her blood. "My mother and father were Russian immigrants who met and married in Philadelphia. They both were very giving people who taught me to care about everyone and to be proud of my Jewish heritage," she said.

Boodis has warm memories of her childhood in West Philadelphia where her parents ran a hardware store.

"I remember the wonderful aromas of broiled chicken and roasted potatoes that my mother prepared for Friday night Shabbat dinners, the glow of the candles and the beautiful Russian music playing in the background," she recalled. She also recalls walking with her father to services at their neighborhood Conservative shul where he was an active member.

Boodis has been a volunteer "for as long as I can remember." She has raised funds for the Federation annual campaign for many years and has planted tulips in Rittenhouse Square during Mitzvah Mania, Federation's annual day of community service and social action. Boodis plans to volunteer for this year's event, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 28.

A committed Zionist, Boodis is also a volunteer and advocate for the Jewish National Fund. "Very few people are aware about the wonderful services that JNF provides to the land and people of Israel," she said, explaining that these services include irrigating the land, building roads and parks, and repairing river beds and dams.

She has traveled to Israel twice. Her first visit was a 70th birthday gift for her mother and the second was "a gift to myself." During her 1991 visit to the Jewish homeland, she spent three weeks on an army base in Beersheva as a participant in Sar-El, the national project for volunteers for Israel.

At 89 years young, Boodis continues to volunteer as a kindergarten classroom aide in a Philadelphia elementary school where her cousin teaches. She keeps her mind active through participation in Golden Slipper on the Main Line, a series of lifelong learning programs at Adath Israel.

Her home is decorated with beautiful framed art and programs from a wide variety of Philadelphia opera productions. Both reflect her former volunteer positions with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, where she served as a "non-singing" extra.

One of the main reasons that Boodis decided to participate in the Book of Life program is to demonstrate to future generations of Jews that it is important to take pride in their Jewish identity. "We stand on the shoulders of Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein and other amazing Jewish men and women who have made incredible contributions to our world."

Both Boodis and Kovnat prominently showcase a framed copy of their Book of Life page in their homes and are proud that their entries are part of an attractively bound volume which is permanently on display for all visitors to the Jewish Community Services Building lobby.

"This book carries on the ancient Jewish tradition of the ethical will, enabling Jewish community members to share their values with their family and fellow Jews," Lundy said, adding, "Through their participation, they leave a rich legacy of lives well spent."

For more information or to set up an appointment, call Susan Lundy at 215-832-0849 or email: [email protected].

 

 Lynn B. Edelman, Jewish Federation Feature

Larry Kovnat was born in the United States just after his parents emigrated from Latvia. He has always had a deep appreciation for the "many blessings" afforded him as a Jewish American and has devoted much of his life to sharing these blessings with others.

Kovnat's involvement in Federation began at the age of 15, while studying for his confirmation at Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

"I saw an article in the Jewish Exponent about the need for volunteers to distribute Federation pledge cards in their neighborhoods," he said, adding that he went door to door soliciting support for Federation throughout his North Philadelphia neighborhood.

"This is how my relationship with Federation began," he explained, adding that, "for more than 65 years, I have tried to do all that I can as both a Federation donor and volunteer to help Federation help the Jewish community." He said that he believes that Federation touches the lives of all Jews by "perpetuating the concept of tzedakah -- Judaism's exhortation that we are responsible one for the other."

Upon retirement from a satisfying career in counseling and human resources, Kovnat intensified his Jewish communal involvement. He assists new Americans and visits patients in nursing homes under the auspices of Jewish Family and Children's Service and serves on the board of the Jewish Chaplaincy Service. He describes himself as "an active congregant" of Old York Road Temple-Beth Am in Abington, where he regularly attends Shabbat services.

Now 83, Kovnat is aware of his own mortality. He signed a letter in the Book of Life, a program of the Federation Endowments Corporation, to make certain that his commitment to Federation and the people it serves will transcend his lifetime.

The Book of Life is one way the Federation Endowments Corporation honors Circle of Partners members like Kovnat -- men and women who have been involved with Federation as donors and volunteers for 25 years or more.

Susan Lundy, Endowments officer, explained, "Throughout the pages of the book, Circle of Partners members share their personal history, their feelings about the Jewish community and their hopes for their family and the Jewish world. Federation will create a document incorporating these values and this knowledge. A copy of this important testimony will be shared with Book of Life participants and with the Jewish community."

Circle of Partners member Sylvia Boodis is a familiar face at Federation's Super Sunday. She is the person who meticulously maintains the coat room and personally greets phone-a-thon volunteers.

Boodis stays at her post until all volunteers have picked up their coats, then she packs up her car with the leftover food and personally delivers it to a homeless shelter near her Center City home.

Boodis' devotion to Judaism and the essential Jewish value of tzedakah is in her blood. "My mother and father were Russian immigrants who met and married in Philadelphia. They both were very giving people who taught me to care about everyone and to be proud of my Jewish heritage," she said.

Boodis has warm memories of her childhood in West Philadelphia where her parents ran a hardware store.

"I remember the wonderful aromas of broiled chicken and roasted potatoes that my mother prepared for Friday night Shabbat dinners, the glow of the candles and the beautiful Russian music playing in the background," she recalled. She also recalls walking with her father to services at their neighborhood Conservative shul where he was an active member.

Boodis has been a volunteer "for as long as I can remember." She has raised funds for the Federation annual campaign for many years and has planted tulips in Rittenhouse Square during Mitzvah Mania, Federation's annual day of community service and social action. Boodis plans to volunteer for this year's event, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 28.

A committed Zionist, Boodis is also a volunteer and advocate for the Jewish National Fund. "Very few people are aware about the wonderful services that JNF provides to the land and people of Israel," she said, explaining that these services include irrigating the land, building roads and parks, and repairing river beds and dams.

She has traveled to Israel twice. Her first visit was a 70th birthday gift for her mother and the second was "a gift to myself." During her 1991 visit to the Jewish homeland, she spent three weeks on an army base in Beersheva as a participant in Sar-El, the national project for volunteers for Israel.

At 89 years young, Boodis continues to volunteer as a kindergarten classroom aide in a Philadelphia elementary school where her cousin teaches. She keeps her mind active through participation in Golden Slipper on the Main Line, a series of lifelong learning programs at Adath Israel.

Her home is decorated with beautiful framed art and programs from a wide variety of Philadelphia opera productions. Both reflect her former volunteer positions with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, where she served as a "non-singing" extra.

One of the main reasons that Boodis decided to participate in the Book of Life program is to demonstrate to future generations of Jews that it is important to take pride in their Jewish identity. "We stand on the shoulders of Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein and other amazing Jewish men and women who have made incredible contributions to our world."

Both Boodis and Kovnat prominently showcase a framed copy of their Book of Life page in their homes and are proud that their entries are part of an attractively bound volume which is permanently on display for all visitors to the Jewish Community Services Building lobby.

"This book carries on the ancient Jewish tradition of the ethical will, enabling Jewish community members to share their values with their family and fellow Jews," Lundy said, adding, "Through their participation, they leave a rich legacy of lives well spent."

For more information or to set up an appointment, call Susan Lundy at 215-832-0849 or email: [email protected].

 

Comments on this Article

Advertisement