This past year through the proceeds from our parents’ estate we established the Sandra & Eddie Russell Family Fund. Why? Because Mom and Dad’s faith, and their Temple, were always a source of joy and inspiration. After careful consideration, it was clear that the best way to remember them was to establish this fund. We felt like they’d be happy that they raised boys who would honor them when they were gone.
Our family’s relationship with Temple dates back to 1938, when our Poppi, Phil Brodnax, our Mimi, Mary Brodnax, Mom, and her sister Elaine, moved here from Nashville. Rabbi Morris Newfield was their rabbi, followed by Rabbi Milton Grafman, for whom the Endowment Fund is named. Rabbi Grafman confirmed two generations of Russells, and their pictures, including Sandra’s from 1950, are all on the wall in the hallway behind the Sanctuary. Through the years, all of the clergy, educators, and everyone associated with Temple have provided the basis of our formal Jewish education, with Mom handling all things informally Jewish, and Dad proudly supporting her.
Mom and Dad led by example to appreciate our Jewishness. From their commitment to helping others through acts of Tikkun Olam, to their support of various programs at Temple over the years, they were actively involved. And they showed us the importance of the Jewish family. That family being Sandra and Eddie, the kids and grandchildren, and their many, many friends and relatives locally, and elsewhere — including cousins in Israel. They helped us understand that we are as much a part of our worldwide Jewish family network as we are our nuclear Jewish family.
Our mom’s sister and her family helped establish the Mary K. Brodnax Fund, which is part of this legacy. And now, whenever a contribution is given to the Russell Fund, it also honors our family. Because the fund will provide for concerts, speakers, and other excellent programs, it will help bring joy and inspiration to generations of Emanu-El members for years. These are tangible moments that can leave a lasting impression on others and, thus, it ensures that our parents’ memory lives on in a very meaningful way.
The establishment of this family fund is about the future. Their legacy is that they demonstrated to their three boys, and their grandchildren, and so on, that their generosity, their kindness, can live forever. The real beauty of this gift is that it may inspire Sandra and Eddie’s descendants to be like their Mimi and Poppi, positively affecting the lives of others.