WHY WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY?
Get to know the women of Women’s Philanthropy as they share their personality, passion and purpose for being involved and connected to our wonderful community. Throughout the year, different women are highlighted as active participants of Women’s Philanthropy who make a difference every day in their own way for Jewish Austin.
Frances Meltzer & Emilie Rosenfeld
How long have you been in Austin?
FM: I have been in and out of Austin for 21 years. This most recent stretch I have lived in Austin for 9 years.
ER: Our family moved here in July 2021. We’re well settled at this point but the city still feels new!
What is your favorite activity to do in Austin?
FM: My favorite thing to do in Austin is to go out to eat. I judge a restaurant based on appetizers and desserts.
ER: The tennis community in Austin is amazing! There are so many ways you can be involved with the sport at any level of play; leagues, ladders, clinics and competitions. I’m always looking for new hitting partners; look me up if you want to play or just want more info on how you can start.
How did you get involved in Women’s Philanthropy?
FM: The same way I got involved with Shalom Austin. It was a total fluke on my part. At the time I was lost in the throes of becoming a new mother and had no idea what was happening in the Austin Jewish community at large. When I was beyond the fog of those first few years, I was invited to an event and hit the ground running.
ER: It was Frances Meltzer! When my daughter started Kindergarten, the Jewish families in the class gravitated to each other and that’s when I met Frances. She encouraged me to get more involved and took the time to invite me and my family to a bunch of events. She brought me along to Mosaic last year and I was really taken with the depth and richness of the Women’s Philanthropy programming, volunteer opportunities and community events.
What is your favorite part of being involved with Women’s Philanthropy?
FM: I have gotten to know so many different women from all over the community. Now, when I walk into an event or even the new Dell JCC building, I see so many friendly faces. I love that being involved has expanded my sense of community while also helping me to feel connected to so many different people.
ER: Women’s Philanthropy creates wonderful opportunities to engage with the broader community through volunteerism. So many of us have a desire to find ways to volunteer in some capacity but work and life gets in the way. I had forgotten how rewarding it is to give of yourself and I’m grateful that Woemn’s Philanthropy has made a structure for us to get involved with the community in such a meaningful way.
What’s your favorite Jewish memory?
FM: This is a hard one. I have so many swirling around in my mind right now. So, I’ll pick one recent memory. We were at a Purim celebration at our synagogue. My daughter found a friend from Sunday school and they disappeared together. Then my sons went in different directions, each having fun. When it was time to leave, no one wanted to and we still couldn’t find my daughter. It took some searching, but she and her friend were finally located. They had “gone to the bathroom.” That night we got to see so many friendly faces and the kids didn’t want to go home. I had a moment of clarity as we left; this was what it’s all about. Creating a community that is safe for our family to enjoy themselves on a holiday without having to worry, making positive connections to our Jewish identity as a family, and being together to have shared stories about, “that time…”
ER: For most of my childhood, I really saw Passover as “my” holiday. We always hosted at our house and I recall spending days beforehand preparing the meal with my mother and then setting the Seder table with my relatives throughout the afternoon. I was the youngest child in my extended family for many, many years and, looking back, I realize that I saw most of this as a lead up to my reading the four questions. My relatives were very sweet in humoring me until I finally passed the baton to a younger cousin when I was almost twelve. While it’s a little embarrassing to recall how much I loved the captive audience, those are my earliest memories of hosting, engaging with everyone at the table, and caring for my loved ones through food – all of which are core to who I am and shape the home I’ve made with my family.
What’s one word that describes our Jewish community?
ER: Welcoming! I’ve never felt the concept of ‘welcoming the stranger’ more deeply than with Austin Jewry.
What’s your perfect day?
FM: April 24. I’m kidding. It’s hard to imagine what a perfect day would look like. That being said it would start with sleeping late (beyond my usual 6:00 a.m. kid wake up) and someone bringing me a cup of coffee. I love a good slow entry into a day.
ER: Starting the day with a great cappuccino and breakfast (that I didn’t cook), hitting the tennis courts with my husband, taking a family outing to the grocery store to get a bunch of seasonal ingredients, spending most of the afternoon cooking up some elaborate dishes with my kids and then hosting friends or family at our place to enjoy a big meal together. Dishwasher loaded by 8:00 p.m., lights out not long after.