On Saturday, February 3, the Stephen Wise Temple community will celebrate a major milestone as we hold our Wise Gala to commemorate 40 years of Wise School. We will also show our gratitude to an incredible group of honorees, that includes Deena and Ed Nahmias, members of over 20 years who have most recently been instrumental in the construction of Katz Family Pavilion and the new Nahmais Plaza that have transformed our campus. This month, we turn our Member Spotlight on Deena and Ed.
Tickets and sponsorships for Wise Gala are available now at WiseLA.org/WiseGala.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME PART OF THE STEPHEN WISE TEMPLE COMMUNITY?
We joined the Stephen Wise Temple community in 1996. We had just moved to Los Angeles from New Jersey. We had been very active in our Reform temple in Livingston, NJ. Deena taught preschool classes at the Jewish Community Center and taught Sunday school at our temple. Ed sat on the Board and the temple’s Men’s Club. We were strangers to LA with all our family back east. As a result we were looking for a connection to a Jewish community. Coming from a family of teachers, education was a priority of our family. Wise met all of our goals. Our son Andrew started in the 5th grade at Wise School and our daughter Allison started 9th grade at Milken — Wise became our community. While larger than most communities we were able to bring Wise down to a manageable size by getting involved in Temple life.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WISE?
We were attracted to Wise first and foremost for its Reform Jewish experience. Ed grew up Conservative and Deena grew up going to an Orthodox synagogue. As we came into our own views on being Jewish we found that Wise, with its interpretation of the Reform movement, was the community we had been looking for. Approachable and thoughtful clergy, Friday night services, holiday and High Holy Days services, speakers on our world around us, and Melton School to continue our own education, to name a few programs, are the reasons why we are here. The clincher for choosing Wise was Wise School where we were able to give our children a deeper Jewish education combined with an excellent secular education
WHAT ARE YOU INVOLVED IN WITH WISE? WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BECOME INVOLVED WITH IN THE FUTURE?
Ed has been on the Board of Directors for over 10 years. He sits on the Governance Committee and has sat of the Executive Committee. Ed is also chair of the Temple Fund Trustees who oversee the endowment funds and retirement plans. We have been Melton School students for over 5 years. We have found a home in the Melton School where we have learned about our Jewish heritage and traditions in a way that resonate strongly to our lives.
WHAT IS A MESSAGE THAT YOU WANT TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN?
The message that we hope we have taught our now adult children is that by following Jewish teachings and by knowing their Jewish heritage they can lead a very successful life in body, mind, and soul.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GIVE SO GENEROUSLY OF YOUR TIME AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES?
We have been motivated to give our time and financial resources to help make Wise successful. We feel very strongly about giving back to our community as, by doing so, we can help make it a little bit better for those who have not had the opportunities we have had. Wise is in our top three charities as we feel it is very important for our community to provide a place for Jewish worship, Jewish education, the support of Israel, and lifecycle events. We do this for the generations right behind us and the generations to come. We are lucky to have the time and resources to help that effort.
WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE UPCOMING WISE GALA ON FEBRUARY 3?
What excites us most about the Gala is that we will be bringing the entire Stephen Wise Temple community to a place to celebrate the first phase of the remaking the campus. This community spent 20 years building a lasting LA legacy in the Milken Schools. It is now time to turn back to our facilities and bring our campus into the 21st century. The Gala is the culmination of the first phase of that effort. We are very proud to be honorees. That said, our real honor is watching the preschoolers and Wise students laughing and running past the water fountain into the Nahmias Family Plaza and seeing how the Katz Family Pavilion remakes our campus. Being part of the legacy of this community and school for future generations is very fulfilling and exciting.