They Never Met But He Is Making Her Dreams Come True
Yosef Kirschner shares a dream of building Cincinnati’s Jewish community with the late Esther Becker, whom he never met.
Cincinnati natives Esther Becker and Yosef Kirschner never met, but their story about building Cincinnati’s Jewish community together is one of intertwined dreams.
While they were alive, Esther and her husband, Maurice, lived humble, modest lives. They worked hard, running a small family business together. Maurice was known for his honesty and devotion to his wife and daughter. Esther was known for her caring, openness and a wonderful sense of humor.
Yosef and his wife, Elka, are currently busy exploring their new married world. Jewish young professionals from Amberley, they were looking to expand their network of friendships in the Jewish community but didn’t know how. Though they are part of the close-knit
Orthodox community, Yosef had not found a new network of Jewish young adults while attending the University of Cincinnati for his engineering degree.
Bissel by Bissel
Esther and Maurice didn’t come from money, but Maurice invested carefully, and quite successfully, in the stock market.
Esther liked to quote her mother, who had said, “A bissel and a bissel makes a whole schissel,” meaning a little bit and a little bit makes a whole lot. And bissel by bissel is how Esther described the couple’s accumulation of wealth.
Esther and Maurice were “true members of the community,” says former Jewish Federation of Cincinnati president Andy Berger. When Esther was young, the Jewish community assisted her family with food, clothing and education. The couple participated in many community organizations, including Golf Manor Synagogue, the Mayerson JCC and Cedar Village.
After Maurice passed, Esther continued her involvement. According to Jan Frankel, her executor, Esther especially loved coming to the senior lunches at the Mayerson JCC.
Esther was “a very special person, [who] always looked for a reason: how can I help others…If that person is a Jew, and I can do something for them, that’s what she was looking for,” said Tsippy Gottlieb, former Senior Adult Services Director at the JCC.
The true surprise was that in 2012, at the end of a modestly lived life, Esther left the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati an endowment of $1.75 million.
The purpose of Esther’s gift is to ensure that Cincinnati has a vital, thriving Jewish community. That was her dream.
And Yosef is now making Esther’s dream come true. How? With Esther’s help.
Just seven months ago, with the help of the Federation, Esther’s gift – now called the Esther and Maurice Becker Networking and Mentoring Center – launched Cincinnati Vine. This website and app work as a central interactive hub for young Jewish adults to connect to each other and the Cincinnati Jewish community.
“I wanted to connect the Orthodox community with the greater community; I felt like I could give a lot, so I was really looking for that,” said Yosef. “But I didn’t know how to get involved. Then this thing called Cincinnati Vine popped up. I heard about it through some friends, I checked it out online, and it was just a great format and had all these different events I could go to. And I started slowly going.”
Yosef’s Dream: Something Truly New
For Yosef and Elka, things escalated quickly. By now they’ve been to 15 events and have hosted two Shabbat dinners. They’ve made a lot of friends.
Yosef’s favorite event so far? “Latkapalooza,” the Jewish young adult “alternative to Chinese and a movie” on the night of December 24.
It’s become, for Yosef and many others, something truly new: a Vine community. In only seven months. Esther would certainly be kvelling. And so, Yosef benefits from and also furthers Esther’s legacy. He wants to become what’s called an “ambassador” for the Vine community. And he is bringing his friends along. “There’s a lot of opportunity to build bridges and make our community a really cohesive place.” He grins with enthusiasm.
In a sweet twist, Yosef and Esther helped each other’s dreams come true. One person helping another, bissel by bissel, dream by dream.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati helps build Jewish community by planning and bringing the community together around common goals. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is located at 8499 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information visit www.jewishcincinnati.org. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: Together we can do almost anything.