Written by Madeline Mayer

While sitting in my Fundraising and Philanthropy class last week, someone remarked vehemently, “I think that more people should give anonymous gifts.  I think that it is self-serving when there are several buildings all with one family’s last name.”  Now, as a Brandeis student, I admit that I often am frustrated when someone tells me to go to the “Shapiro building.”  There are several different Shapiro buildings on campus! I began to wonder, is giving anonymously the right thing to do?  Why wouldn’t someone want their friends to know about a cause worth supporting?  Is naming a building different than simply giving a gift?

Madeline Mayer

As I thought about this comment from class, I realized that for an organization, having someone’s name on a building is indeed very important.  For me, it is emblematic of a personal connection that a person has to an organization or place.  For example, we are the Paula Brody & Family Education Center. Our dedicated rooms include:  Lucy’s Room, a preparation suite dedicated by Carol and Steve Targum; the Ball Room, a celebration space in honor of Jim Ball; and the reception area, in honor of Diane Troderman; and other named spaces.  These naming opportunities reflect the different experiences families had/have with Mayyim Hayyim. For a new visitor to Mayyim Hayyim, when they see these names in our building, they know that the name is there for a reason.

While a naming opportunity may not be right for everyone, the main point here, is that people give because they feel a sense of connection with the organization.  Whether a student visits Mayyim Hayyim and learns about mikveh at one of our Education Center programs, or if a parent celebrates the conversion of their child at Mayyim Hayyim— both of these people have lasting impressions. I, for example, first came here in 2006 with the Genesis program.  That experience has stuck with me over the years, and now, I am a Graduate Intern at Mayyim Hayyim.

This holiday season was a wonderful time for Mayyim Hayyim.  We had 76 High Holiday immersions and 31 conversions.  Through our High Holiday appeal, we received $7,900.  For me, these gifts were expressions of thanks and appreciation.  In addition, throughout the year we receive lovely notes and phone calls of support. I would like to thank everyone who has made a contribution to Mayyim Hayyim during the High Holidays and beyond.  A gift to Mayyim Hayyim ensures that we will be able to provide many more experiences for our current and future community.  For me, I am thankful every day to be part of such an amazing organization.

Madeline Mayer hails from Leawood, KS.  This May, she will complete her master’s degree with the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University. She has been at Mayyim Hayyim since June and is working in development.