“Legacy Letters” are a bequest beyond material possessions

An interactive workshop in Birmingham will promote a “missing piece” in estate plans — legacy letters, often called ethical wills.

Birmingham’s three Jewish community endowment organizations, the Birmingham Jewish Foundation, the Rabbi Grafman Endowment Fund of Temple Emanu-El and the Temple Beth-El Foundation, are co-sponsoring two workshops, “Writing Your Legacy Letters.”

A Legacy Letter is a way to share values and wisdom with the next generations. It is not a legal document, but is instead a heartfelt written expression of what truly matters most in one’s life.

The ethical will dates back to Biblical times when Jacob gathered his children to give them blessings and instructions in going forward. Another example is when Moses addresses the community and tells them to be holy and teach their children. In later centuries these messages developed into letters.

To give as many community members as possible a chance to attend, there will be two sessions available on Nov. 3 — a lunch meeting at Temple Emanu-El at 11:30 a.m., and a 5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres event at the Levite Jewish Community Center.

Both sessions will be facilitated by Rachael Freed, a nationally known expert in legacy letters.

In the workshops, Freed will explain the importance and history of legacy letters and then participants then will have the opportunity, with her guidance, to work on their own documents for their family and/or community.

Freed, founder of Life-Legacies, provides legacy-related programs throughout the country. She is a senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, a licensed clinical social worker, and marriage and family therapist. She is the author of six books, her most recent is “Your Legacy Matters: Harvesting the Love and Lessons of Your Life.”

Freed said “I believe it both a privilege and a responsibility to record and communicate the legacies you’ve received and the experiences you’ve lived that make you who you are. Preserving your wisdom and your love establishes a link in the chain of generations and passes on a legacy for those of tomorrow’s world.”

Jann Blitz, executive director of the Grafman Endowment, has attended a workshop led by Freed and “it was incredibly inspiring. It is not about death and dying, but rather an inspirational session that really gets you thinking about what is important to you and what you would want future generations to know.”

Sally Friedman, executive director of The Birmingham Jewish Foundation said, “I think it is important and wonderful that our community endowments are able to come together to present this. We all want to encourage people to think about the messages they leave for those who come after us.”

Reservations can be made to (205) 803-1516. The organizations ask that participants consider a $10 couvert.