Why We Give: Jen and Mark Eichelbaum

March 1, 2023

Growing up as strong lifelong members of Temple Beth-El, Jen and Mark Eichelbaum contributed to LIFE & LEGACY before it was even called LIFE & LEGACY. “I was on the board at the time, and it was brought to my attention that Temple was doing this program,” says Mark. “It was a way we could continue giving to Temple Beth-El even after we passed on.”

Mark, who was born and raised at Temple Beth-El, met his future wife Jen at Temple when she moved here with her family in 1991 when she was in eighth grade. They have been members ever since. “I feel like I owe my entire life to Temple Beth-El,” Mark says. “I worked there during college, which allowed me to afford college and led me to my current career. It’s where I met my wife; my kids have grown up there and had all their lifecycle events here. Whether it’s career or family life, all my paths have their roots in Temple Beth-El.”

Jen, who has served on the board at the Jewish Community Center and as a BBYO advisor, understands the significance of keeping the legacy of Temple Beth-El going and adds, “For us, our family story started at Temple. Our kids have gone there since birth; my mom worked there for a time. We want to ensure it’s there for our kids and grandkids if they live there, and everyone else’s kids and grandkids.”

To Jen and Mark, donating to Life and Legacy is not just about Temple Beth-El, but the San Antonio Jewish Community at large. “Without the funds being there, the community itself could potentially have a hard time offering the programs and services the community has relied on for many years,” says Jen. “It’s important to not only give of our time and commitment by volunteering and being involved participants, but the money side of it is important too. And without those funds available that the Jewish community has relied on and supports and provides, has the potential of going away.”

As the current Vice President of Temple Beth-El’s Board of Trustees, Mark will take the reigns in the summer of 2024 as President. When asked what they love most about Temple Beth-El, Mark did not take long to come up with an answer. “For me, it’s the community; it’s the people. It starts with the clergy, then the rest of the staff, and then it goes to the congregants. Whether it is coincidental or on purpose, our closest friends are people we know through the Temple,” Mark answers. “It’s hard to put into words, but when you are at Shabbat services or High Holy days, and everyone there is singing Shema together, you get that warm fuzzy emotional feeling; it’s a common bond that we all share. And a lot of times, it goes unspoken. I think it’s why you end up socializing or having fellow congregants or fellow Jews in your life; you have this automatic bond that you share with them, even with people you don’t even know. All of a sudden, you’re comfortable with them. You’re okay to turn to the people behind or next to you and say, Shabbat Shalom. It’s a wonderful experience even when you don’t know the people. We’re all there for the same reasons, and it’s to experience that Jewish community.”

Ensuring Temple Beth-El can carry on, not just for Judaism and tradition, is not the only reason LIFE & LEGACY is important to Jen and Mark. It’s also all the good Temple Beth-El does for the San Antonio Community. “Everything that Temple does above and beyond the religious aspect, what we do in the community, all of our social action programs, is important for the Jewish community and the San Antonio community. We need to continue supporting what Temple does,” says Mark.

“Giving to LIFE & LEGACY is not about us; it’s not about Mark and me,” Jen says. “It’s about Bailey, it’s about Maegan, it’s about the next generation and making sure Temple is there, and it’s thriving and flourishing past us. Because we can only do so much while we’re here, but if we can help provide for future generations, then that’s the ultimate goal. I think that’s what people need to think about when giving to Life and Legacy. It’s not necessarily what’s happening right now, what we will get out of Temple, or what it can provide for us. But what Temple can do and provide for future generations past us.”

Both agreed that it is not the amount of the gift but the gift itself. Mark adds, “I think many people misunderstand that term life and legacy; it doesn’t have to be a lot. There is no minimum set value. Much like our commitment structure, it’s give to your heart’s content. It doesn’t have to be a significant dollar amount; it just needs to be significant and mean something to you to be a part of the process.” Finishing, Mark leaves us with sound advice, “Don’t count yourself out. Don’t consider yourself unable to afford it; it doesn’t have to be a minimum dollar amount to do it.”

“When we first got the email, to be honest with you, we debated if it was the right thing to do. We try to remain anonymous and humble with respect to our giving. What I decided for me was yes, we have to tell our story because we need other people to do it. It’s not about bragging or saying look at me; it’s about joining us and saying you should be a part of this, it’s the righteous thing to do, and it creates the legacy. As we write this article, I’m hoping it captures, maybe, just one, but I love it to capture 100 more people into the program. But if it changes one person’s life, that’s great,” concludes Mark.

Be remembered forever by Temple Beth-El with a gift in your will, trust, retirement account, or life insurance policy.

For more information, visit our Legacy Giving page on our website or contact our Committee Chair,  Shirley Swanson, at shirl_swanson@yahoo.com.