Posted on February 1, 2014
Shirley had been on a work-study program for a year to Israel after graduating high school and when she came back to the United States she told her parents that she was seriously thinking of making aliyah (immigrating) to Israel. Her mother was aghast at the notion and came up with a plan. She started asking all her friends and acquaintances if they knew of a nice Jewish boy for Shirley to meet in the hopes that it would keep her here in the states. The plan worked flawlessly! One of her business acquaintances gave her Eugene’s phone number and the 2 went out, were married 5 months later, and 52 years later, are this month’s member spotlight.
Eugene was born in Budapest, Hungary and lived there for 8 years before immigrating to the United States. This was before World War II and although he doesn’t remember any overt anti-semitism as a child, his father knew that things were only getting worse for the Jews in Europe and decided to try leaving for the United States where they had an aunt who could sponsor them. After 9 years of living in New York City, the family moved to Florida but stayed for only 1 year before moving out west, because, as his mother put it, “there was just too much of everything, heat, bugs…”
Shirley grew up in the Beverly-Fairfax area of Los Angeles and attended Fairfax High School. She remembers her step-father dragging her from 1 Orthodox store-front shul (shtiebel) to another while her mother was as irreligious as a person could be. Out of this very mixed-message Jewish upbringing, she managed to follow her friends to Hebrew school and went all the way through confirmation at Congregation Shaarei T’filah. In fact, the only time her mother ever set foot inside a temple was to attend her confirmation ceremony.
Eugene and Shirley joined Temple Beth David in 1995 when their youngest daughter wanted to be married at a local temple. The family had been members of Temple Akiba in Culver City (outside Los Angeles) for many years but had moved to Long Beach and were also looking for a local temple to belong to. Cantor Lisa Sharlin officiated the wedding and after attending several wonderful services the couple decided to join. “It’s a very warm welcoming group of people that make up the congregation,” says Shirley. “ We are not overly ritually observant but we have a very strong identity as Jews.” One of their daughters, Linda Patton, is also a member of TBD with her family and recently celebrated her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah at TBD.
Shirley has sat on the TBD board, served as the Temple Treasurer, and is currently Sisterhood Treasurer. She is also on the TBD Lasting Legacy Committee where she is involved with the Lasting Legacy Endowment at the TBD Foundation. For her work in Sisterhood, she has been honored with the TBD Sisterhood Woman of Merit Award.
Both Eugene and Shirley earned their bachelor degrees in business from UCLA (they attended at different times) and both became CPA’s. Eugene has worked as a CFO and controller for several companies. He also developed his own practice which worked out very nicely. Shirley has focused on tax work exclusively during her career. She became a partner at a tax firm in Beverly Hills. Both are retired now although Shirley continues to do some part-time tax work.
Eugene and Shirley are very active in their community. He sits on the Long Beach Senior Citizen Housing Board and she is past treasurer and past president of the Long Beach Jewish Federation and the Long Beach Jewish Community Foundation. She still sits on their boards.
When they’re not spending time with their 2 children and 2 grandchildren (they live exactly 2 ½ miles from each family), they love to travel either abroad or travel hopping into their RV going across the United States.
The Ross’s enjoy a wonderful life together and we’re happy for them that TBD is a part of that life.