During David's long battle with cancer, there were many discussions regarding his desire to make tikkun olam contributions. Making a contribution was important to him since his father died when he was very young. He was cared for by a Jewish orphanage when his mother was ill and could not care for herself or her children. David had good memories of the people who cared for him during that time. He was eventually able to return to his family and had many years of good times with his mother, two brothers and sister.
During some of the last years of his cancer treatments, I was working with Candlelighters for Childhood Cancer. I was privileged to share many experiences with those amazing children and their families. Some of those experiences were shared with Midbar Kodesh Temple's Dr. Ron Kline, years before my own connection to the synagogue.
Because those personal experiences made such an impact on me, David wanted the children of Las Vegas to benefit by his charitable giving, as well as implement a long range plan of giving to Jewish programs. The decision of how those contributions would be made was left to me. After David's passing, I spent several months putting together a Foundation, taking money that he left for that purpose, growing the fund, and putting it to good use. I was looking for something that would continue to build on the Jewish future of the Las Vegas Valley.
I had read about a Midbar Kodesh Temple 5 year old who had just raised over $350 by selling her own artwork to a captive audience so that she could make a donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I had read about the many things that the children and teens of Midbar Kodesh Temple had done and asked to meet some of them. One October, I sat in the sukkah and heard stories of their travels to Kinnusim, Israel, USY trips, and Jewish summer camp. I heard the ideas they had for building a better world. I wanted to be part of their story. I met with several of Midbar's leadership and was shown a way to make a 10 year commitment to build what is now known as the David L. Simon Center For Education and Tikkun Olam. Never was I prouder than the day that building opened.
Now it is time to look towards the future of the children who will be educated in that building. In addition to the scholarships our Foundation provides to the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, the Foundation also provides scholarships to Midbar's post b'nei mitzvah students. In the fall we will be send a third group of students, accompanied by a parent, their teachers and the clergy, to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, opening the family dialogue about the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance and kindness. We also underwrite other projects for Midbar's families and children of the greater community, most recently working with the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Touro University.
And still there is so much more that needs to be done. I give because I believe in building a better world through education, acts of giving, acts of doing and acts of loving kindness. I believe that through the work of the Foundation, I have begun to fulfill David's vision. I know that if we teach the importance of giving and give together, in any amount we can afford, then we will reach every goal.
Connie Pectol, Founder
David L. Simon Foundation
Connie has been a good friend of Midbar Kodesh Temple since 2005 and proudly applauds the children and families of the synagogue for all that we do.