When talking with Erinn and Dr. Felix Portnoy, the commitment and love they have for the Jewish community is obvious. As parents of very young children, they feel compelled to step up and provide for the Jewish future of the next generation, and are thrilled to be able to do so by leaving a gift through the Life & Legacy program.
Erinn was born and raised in Wilmington, N. C. After her brother, Adam moved to Norfolk to start his dental practice, her parents made the move to Tidewater. Erinn and Felix followed a few years later.
Felix was born in Moldova, USSR, and in 1978 moved to Israel. He speaks with emotion about the activism of Jews and Jewish organizations in the United States that enabled him and many other Jews to leave the USSR. The Soviet Jewry movement was a long struggle, but Felix believes that in many ways it was what helped American Jewish communities form and strengthen Federations, Community Relations Councils, and other organizations. Felix’s family moved to Kiryat Yam, which coincidentally happens to be the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s sister city. In 2004, Felix moved to North Carolina as a student, and that is where he met Erinn.
Erinn says that her parents shaped her Jewish identity and modelled how to be and how to live a Jewish life, emphasizing tzedakah and tikkun olam. “It was a small Jewish community, and we lived our lives around the synagogue. My mom made me a life member of Hadassah in elementary school. They really directed my life to becoming who I am Jewishly and as a person.”
For Felix, who grew up in Israel, he says it was easy to be Jewish there. “Everyone went to a Jewish school,” he jokes. “But when I moved to the United States it was very different. Unless you actively seek Jewish involvement, you won’t have it. I learned a lot from Erinn’s family and they really reconnected me with my tradition.”
The Portnoys agree about how they want to be remembered and the kind of legacy they hope to leave. Felix says he would like to be remembered as a family person. “That is very important to me. I try to devote as much as I can to my wife and children.”
Erinn agrees, and adds that she is so glad that “Our kids will remember when their dad went to a Hanukkah party at their school, or when he dressed up as an Israeli soldier on Yom Ha’atzmaut and marched them around the gym. They’ll know that the Jewish community was important to us.”
The Portnoys’ hope is for the Jewish community to, at the very least, maintain the same level of services that are provided today, and hopefully improve it. “The generation before us did a great job of providing for us. That is why we are so happy to be able to participate in the Life & Legacy program.”
As a younger couple, when the Portnoys first heard about after-life giving, they didn’t expect to be able to participate. When they heard about the Legacy Match Life Insurance program. However, they realized that being younger was an advantage because they can get a lower rate and be able to leave a more substantial gift to the community.
Through the Legacy Match program, TJF pays a portion of the premiums on policies of $100,000 for a single life policy and $250,000 for a two-life policy. The donor saves money by paying only part of the premium, which is also tax deductible.
As Felix says, “I appreciate the opportunity the Tidewater Jewish Foundation gave us to do this. It really amplified our gift and made it possible for us and our friends and other people in our community to take an active role in the Life & Legacy program.”
For more information on the Legacy Match Life Insurance program, call Barb Gelb at 757-965-6105.
– Barbara Gelb