| Giving Back With The Beckers
Ben and Jennie Becker’s courtship began after meeting at a 2010 Camp Wise reunion and developed while working together at the Mandel JCC’s overnight camp in Chardon.
Now married, Ben and Jennie Becker continue to give back to the organization that brought them together.
“A strong community needs a strong J and a strong J needs a strong community,” said Ben, 29. The Toledo native and his wife, 31, who was raised in Youngstown, are among the J’s youngest and most ardent supporters. Together, they raised $1,000 two years in a row as participants in The J’s Indoor Triathlon & Biathlon.
Last year, they advocated for a young adult event at the Cleveland Jewish FilmFest. Their perseverance paid o when more than 40 people attended the FilmFest’s first-ever young adult screening. Working with event organizers, the Beckers selected a dark comedy, sure to appeal to a younger crowd, and hosted a pre-screening happy hour. They anticipate an even larger young-adult crowd at this year’s festival.
(L-R) Jennie and Ben Becker, Katie Shames, former Board member, and Deborah Bobrow,
Impressed with the Beckers’ passion and commitment and hoping to include films of interest to millennials, FilmFest organizers asked Ben and Jennie to join the screening committee. The couple quickly agreed to participate.
Ben has served on The J’s Fund Development committee and now serves on the Mandel JCC’s Board of Trustees. When Alan Semel, The J’s Board Chair and long-time friend and former colleague, asked Ben to join the Board, he was eager to do so because he was already so actively involved with The J. “I’m excited to get more formally involved with The J and give back to an organization that has done so much for me,” said Ben.
The Beckers’ ties to Camp Wise remain strong, where Jennie, now a science teacher at Hawken School, served as assistant director and Ben, now a senior consultant at Levin Consulting, was a supervisor. They continue to volunteer at Camp Wise events throughout the year and host international staff during the summer.
“Ben and Jennie’s contributions to The J are immeasurable,” said Michael Hyman, Mandel JCC President and CEO. “Their lives, like so many of us, are so busy yet they find the time, energy and passion to give back to an organization that means so much to them.”
Jennie, a runner who also works out with one of The J’s personal trainers, said she gets as much from The J as she gives. “My whole Jewish identity is rooted at The J,” she said. “This is where I had my first full-time job. I met many close friends here. I met my husband here. This is just a grounding place. Whenever I work out and see people I know it feels like home.”
Ben agrees. “It’s a no-brainer to support The J in any way I can, so other people can have the kind of experiences I’ve found so valuable and formative,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “Come to think of it, without The J I’d have no wife and no best friends.”