Gifts support Jewish life, children of clergy at College of Charleston

Two $1 million gifts will help support Jewish life on campus at the College of Charleston, and benefit children of clergy from all faiths.

The two pledges were made by Regina and Samuel Shapiro of Atlanta, who wanted to ensure that Jewish student life flourished to complement the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program.

“The Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program is the hub of Jewish student life at the College of Charleston,” said President George Benson. “This generous gift from the Sam and Gina Shapiro will allow us to further expand the program and make it more accessible to greater numbers of students.”

The Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston serves thousands of students each year through a rich and diverse range of social and educational activities related to Jewish culture, Israel, and social justice. The $1 million gift will create an endowment to support Wednesday night meet-to-eat dinners and Shabbat dinners, which are attended by well over 100 students each week. The gift will also expand vital student community outreach and volunteer projects such as Alternative Spring Breaks, outreach to less privileged youth in Charleston, and student trips to Israel.

“Students shape their week around student life activities like our Wednesday night meet-to-eat and Shabbat dinners,” says Mimi Lewis, Jewish Student Life Coordinator. “They know they have a place to go to connect with friends, connect with staff, and be a part of the greater Charleston community. These are deeply meaningful Jewish experiences to a large number of young people who are at a critical stage in framing their identity.”

The Shapiros are long-time and loyal supporters of the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston. Both Sam and Gina have served on the Program’s Advisory Board and Gina’s late parents endowed the Milton and Freddie Kronsberg Lecture Series at Jewish Studies, the first named programmatic gift to the Jewish Studies Program.

“The Jewish Studies Program has been important to our family for a long time and we are happy to support an initiative at the College that has impacted so many young people and community members over the years,” says Gina Shapiro. “Sam and I are also grateful to President Benson for enlightening us about the College’s greatest need – scholarship support – and how scholarships provide life-changing access to a College of Charleston education.”

Starting in fall 2013, children of clergy and religious educators of any faith will be eligible for a four-year full tuition scholarship to the College of Charleston. The scholarship will provide access to in-state and out-of-state students for whom a College of Charleston education would not otherwise be financially possible.

One of the many inspirations for the establishment of the Samuel R. and Regina K. Shapiro Endowment Scholarship occurred when Gina Shapiro met a dynamic high school junior who was the daughter of a clergyman. She shared with Shapiro that the College of Charleston would not be possible for her without scholarship support. The Shapiros knew there were so many students like her across the Southeast, whose financial ability to pay for college was compromised by their parents’ commitment to religious education.