Susan and Jon Becker Create a Jewish Legacy

by | Jun 7, 2012 | Uncategorized

Susan and Jon Becker

Susan and Jon Becker

Sitting down for a conversation in the beautiful Ghent home of Susan and Jon Becker, the comfort, ease and unity of their partnership is immediately apparent. They demonstrate the kind of quiet understanding, empathy and humor that can only come from years of shared intimacy, as well as having survived some of the difficulties life throws at everyone, coming out stronger, and even more motivated than before.

In the Becker’s case, this is particularly evident. In 1999, Jon was forced to retire from his successful law practice when struck by a catastrophic illness. Jon says, “It worked out in lots of ways in that, when I retired, it gave me time to really do something I had always wanted to do—I started learning.”

The Beckers had long been drawn to a deeper study and participation in Judaism and the Jewish community. Their involvement with Rabbi Aron Margolin and Chabad began 32 years ago, with their move to Virginia Beach. They were also long-time members of Congregation Beth El and B’nai Israel. Even so, the desire to become more intimately involved became even more focused as their four daughters, Lisa, Amy, Katie and Jennifer, made their way through the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater.

Doing for the Jewish community, is a need that drives both of them. While on the Women’s Cabinet, Susan learned and heard about all the needs of Jews all over the world. “I just realized I needed to step it up. And I could, so I did. It’s more of a commitment than I might have thought I would ever make, but when I hear of Jews not eating, not having food on their plate, and so many other needs, it’s only right to become more involved.“

“Nowadays, it’s much easier to give than it used to be. When we moved here, there wasn’t an internet and there wasn’t the ability to know about soup kitchens and organizations in Israel and Eastern Europe,” adds Jon. The Beckers set up a fund with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation to cover “a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.” Among the most important things to the Beckers are ensuring the future of Chabad, the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and Jewish Family Service.

“Jewish Family Service has been extraordinary to Jon when he needed them,” says Susan. “They’re always there for you. They’re wonderful!” Jon is now doing physical therapy five days a week, continuing his studies and staying in constant touch with his four daughters and three granddaughters, Leora, Tova and Dalia.

Susan has become a Lion of Judah, making her commitment to the Jewish community even stronger. But it’s Jon who sums up their feelings and philosophy for the couple.

“God’s been really good to us. And this community’s been really good to us. I was fortunate—I had a good practice. And I really do believe that we lose sight if we think we’re the reason we came upon this money. I really believe that HaShem decides, okay, I’m gonna trust you with this much of it, and it’s now your obligation to share it—to pass it on. Tzedakah doesn’t really mean ‘charity.’ It means, doing the right thing. It means doing what you’re supposed to do. I believe we’ve been fortunate and therefore have an absolute obligation to help those who haven’t been as fortunate.”

by Jonathan Marten