Meet The Legacy Society Members

Giving Back to Rodeph Shalom
By Fred Kogan & Craig Bierman

We moved to Philadelphia two weeks before 9/11 from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Having been together for nearly a decade and knowing we were each other’s beshert, we decided to relocate to a new, more livable city.  One where we could grow into ourselves and our new careers.

Seventeen years later, as we grow into our 50’s, we find ourselves doing a lot of reflecting.  We begin to think more about the now, about who we are, what makes us happy, and what’s really important in our lives.

Who are we?  A queer, Jewish, married couple.  What makes us happy?  Each other.  What’s really important to us?  Our health, family, friends, teaching, and our connection with a supportive and loving synagogue.  We have found that synagogue in Rodeph Shalom.

Our first exposure to RS occurred when we attended several Bar, Bat, and B’nai Mitzvah of our students and friends.  We were immediately drawn to Rodeph Shalom’s kind, caring, warm and welcoming clergy and staff.  We felt the spirit and we felt the love.  As we (mostly Fred) began attending Friday evening services, a unique and spiritual connection began to develop.  In the years that followed, this connection became quite strong.

For many reasons, we are happy to call RS our spiritual home. We so appreciate that RS finds music to be an important part of every service.  We are delighted to be members of a synagogue that has annual MLK and pride Shabbat service. We are thrilled that social action and LGBTQIA+ civil rights are priorities of RS.  As a queer couple, Rodeph Shalom is the perfect place for us.  

Last year, for the first time, we began the formal process of estate planning.  We were each asked to complete a worksheet to help guide us.  In just one moment and without the blink of an eye, we both jotted down how important it is to include our spiritual home in our wills. And how wonderful it is to have this special place in our lives now.  And how comforting it is to know that even after we are gone from this world, we can still contribute to this wonderful place.

Willing Rodeph Shalom a Secure Future
By Mary Ellen & Carl Schneider

We have provided for a bequest to Rodeph Shalom in our Wills.  We support a long list of non-profit organizations, some with a relatively small annual gift and a few with what for us are substantial gifts.  Only those very few organizations most important to us are included in our Wills. Rodeph Shalom is the largest recipients of our charitable giving, both annually and in our Wills.  We give to many service-providing charitable organizations, but we are not service recipients or clients of those organizations.  Of all the organizations we support, Rodeph Shalom is the only one whose mission and service impacts us directly and in a very significant way.

We joined Rodeph Shalom as a couple almost 60 years ago, when our oldest child was ready to start his religious education.  Mary Ellen’s family had joined when she was 12. Carl married in. All four of our children were b’nai mitzvah at Rodeph Shalom, 3 were confirmed here and all were married by Rodeph Shalom clergy.  We both have had the honor to serve as Trustees for many years and both of us have been Officers. We have also served on a wide variety of Committees, Task Forces and Search Committees.  Carl loves to attend Torah Study sessions.

As you can see, Rodeph Shalom is an important part of our lives. It is not only the base of our religious/spiritual activities, but also central to our communal life.  We participate in many of the learning opportunities at Rodeph Shalom. As a family, we have benefited from Rodeph Shalom’s four-fold mission -- as a source of prayer, study, community and social action.

We view our Wills as a financial “goodbye” to the world.  Our primary beneficiaries are our children and grandchildren.  (We have no “greats” yet, but they would be very welcome.) Family members will get the major portion of our estates.  But we feel strongly that some portion of our accumulated assets should benefit a very few organizations whose mission we supported and which were important to us.  Rodeph Shalom heads that list.

We hope you will also feel the same about the importance of Rodeph Shalom in your lives.  We urge you to establish a planned gift for our beloved Congregation.


To join, please contact Director of Membership & Philanthropy Catherine Fischer at [email protected] or 267-930-7282.



This information is not intended as legal, tax, or financial advice. When considering a gift of this nature, always consult your professional advisors.