Stephen and Laura Philipson

Why we Give: Laura and Stephen Philipson

Giving is personal and can be motivated by life experiences, family histories or personal passions. In this first-person piece, originally published by the Charlotte Jewish News, local philanthropist Laura Philipson explains why she and her husband were inspired to give a legacy gift to Foundation for the Charlotte Jewish Community, a subsidiary of FFTC.

Laura Philipson

I grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia. My father is from an Orthodox Jewish background, and my mother’s family is Christian. While my parents didn’t closely observe their faiths, I fondly remember celebrating holidays with both sides of our family. Stephen was born and raised in New Orleans. His family belonged to a Reform congregation and typically attended services twice a year for the High Holidays. They celebrated Hannukah and Passover at home with their extended families.

Stephen and I met at Washington and Lee University. Stephen was Hillel president, and I often attended events with him. Only about 20 Jews were on campus at the time. In 2001, we graduated, moved to New York City, and were married two years later. I converted to Judaism, as it was important to me that we would raise our future children with one religion. Stephen and I began attending Friday night services at Congregation Emanuel and Central Synagogue. We were working extremely long hours and found it to be a nice way to slow down and share time with one another. In 2005, we moved to Charlotte where our two daughters, Isabel and Lila, were eventually born.

We were impressed by the strength of Charlotte’s arts culture and its Jewish community. We joined Temple Beth El and immediately became involved in the arts. This wasn’t something we could easily do in a larger city like New York. Besides our Temple Beth El activities, we became involved with the Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Charlotte Country Day School, and several other service-based nonprofits. Through our engagement with some of these organizations, we developed friendships with other Jewish donors and learned from their giving philosophies.

Giving back is a human and Jewish value that resonates with us and is something we communicate to our daughters. We volunteer on Mitzvah Day and encourage our girls to give selflessly at a young age. Their piggy banks have three sections: save, spend, and share.

We’ve been fortunate to be in a position to give back to the community we care about. Many of the opportunities we’ve had were because of the people who came before us. We have seen firsthand the impact on nonprofits by the loss of donors. It is difficult to suddenly replace the gifts of those who have passed on or moved away.

Legacy giving ensures that financial support will continue. It is particularly important in the Jewish world, as levels of engagement change from one generation to the next. There is a “pay it forward” component to a legacy gift, and it is an important final statement to our children that indicates how much their parents value the importance of giving back and sharing with others.

For more information on legacy giving, visit