Critical Minds, Compassionate Hearts

Shapiros: Rashi's Impact is on the Whole Family

These alumni parents are proud of the impact that The Rashi School had on their children but the impact that Rashi had on them was totally unexpected.
“Looking back over the past 6½ years, there’s no doubt that The Rashi School was the best place for our children, Joshua and Samantha,” alumni parent Ed Shapiro recalls. “The values-based education they received truly developed their ‘critical minds and compassionate hearts,’ and they are both thriving in high school. But what was totally unexpected was the impact that Rashi had on the two of us.”

The Shapiros have been involved in important Boston community institutions for many years. Ed serves on the Board of Trustees of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Barbara serves on the Board for Horizons for Homeless Children. Their experience at Rashi has taken their commitment to philanthropy and volunteering to an entirely new level. Not only have they both served on the Rashi Board of Trustees and Barbara has served as chair of Yachad (Rashi’s parent/teacher organization), but also they have taken leadership positions in a long list of organizations in both the Jewish and secular communities, locally and nationally. 

They are passionate about refugee resettlement and international humanitarian causes and to that end have led related efforts at Temple Beth Elohim, JFS Metrowest, UNICEF, HIAS, IsraAid, and more. Global health and education reform are also important areas of their public activities, including work with Partners in Health. Additional involvement includes working with Match Education, the non-profit Social Finance and Jewish Vocational Services. Ed recently retired from his investment management firm to focus predominantly on his philanthropic efforts.

All this because of Rashi?

The couple’s children, they insist, were the catalyst for their increased involvement in philanthropic work. 

“After the start of their first Tamchui experience, our children told us about a youth village in Northern Israel called Yemin Orde,” Barbara explains. “They described how wildfires had burned down much of the school and how they were now raising money to help rebuild it. The next year, as we were planning the family’s first trip to Israel, we asked our kids if there was a place, in particular, they wanted to visit. They both said ‘Yemin Orde’.” Clearly, Rashi had impacted them. As the Shapiros prepared to leave for their trip, Joshua and Samantha collected donations of school supplies and gifts that they then carried with them and delivered to the village.

After that initial experience in their children’s first year at Rashi, the Shapiros decided to make their philanthropic choices a family affair, listening to what their children were concerned about, learning more together, and finding causes in which their family could make a difference. 

“About two years ago,” Ed recalls, “our children started asking us questions we couldn’t answer about the Syrian refugee crisis. As we explored these questions together as a family, we discovered MOAS (Mobile Offshore Aid Station), an organization engaged in the search and rescue of migrants in the Central Mediterranean. Our children wanted to see every video on the MOAS website and we’ve had periodic Skype sessions with them over the past two years. Joshua even donated to the organization using his Bar Mitzvah money (with a match from Google) that he researched on his own!”

Going forward, the Shapiros hope that their children will continue as partners in their philanthropic giving. “Nothing would make us happier than working side by side and harnessing their energy and enthusiasm to help us be as thoughtful as possible with our future philanthropy,” says Ed. 

The Shapiros will be honored with the Kehillah Award in recognition of their outstanding leadership and commitment to The Rashi School and our community at the 2017 Annual Dinner at the Seaport Boston Hotel on Tuesday, May 9 at 6:00 PM.
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