I grew up with roots firmly established at Ohef Sholom: ancestors who were founders; my incomparable grandmother, Justine Nusbaum; and my father, Bob Nusbaum, a past President and the Temple’s legal counsel. Rabbi Malcolm and Louise Stern were regular fixtures at our home. I joined both OSTY and AZA, and ultimately led my AZA chapter. Shortly after returning to Norfolk, I was helping with Ohef Sholom’s legal work (a unique way to learn the inner workings of a synagogue!), and began 20 years (so far) on the Temple Board.
The Ohef Sholom Board led me to the ADL Virginia Regional Board and the UJF’s Community Relations Council (twice), and wonderful years working with Betsy Karotkin on Federation outreach programs for interfaith couples. I realized, however, that I had become an “organizational man,” promoting very worthwhile organizational goals, but without embracing the spiritual underpinnings of our faith. Only after Sharon and I joined a UJF mission to Israel in March, 2000, and I was subsequently approached to “go in the chairs” at Ohef Sholom, did I realize the time had come to turn inwards, on a journey of spiritual exploration.
My wonderful journey, over the past four years, has led me to learn Hebrew, to study Torah at Temple on Shabbat mornings and at our monthly Downtown Norfolk Lunch and Learns, to become a bar mitzvah (at age 50!), and to lead the second year of our Rabbinic Search Committee through the many spiritual (and practical) issues associated with hiring a new rabbi. These experiences made me understand, as never before, the centrality of the synagogue and our Jewish beliefs in our lives. While it is important to have centers for our communities, it is critical to the survival of Judaism that our synagogues survive l’dor vador. And so, when the endowment phase of Ohef Sholom’s Tekiah Campaign began, it was an easy decision to participate in the creation of a permanent Temple endowment at the Ohef Sholom Foundation, with help from the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.