The L’Chaim Fund was started by our late and revered members Louis and Dorothy Gold, who became parents relatively late in Louis’s life and decided that they wanted to encourage Mishkon members to multiply, be fruitful, and be raised in the Jewish faith and traditions.
Mr. Gold immigrated to New York City from Odessa, then a part of Russia, in the first decade of the 20th Century. He was 16 and traveled alone; his family followed two months later. Apprenticed to a barber in Odessa, he quickly established himself as a barber in New York. After learning to speak Italian, he rose to the presidency of the Barber’s Union and proprietorship of an exclusive 5th Avenue hair salon. After a war-time turn as a tool-and-die maker in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he patented his seminal invention: A device that allowed a skilled operator to quickly create waves in women’s hair that did not wash out. Mr. Gold is the father of the “permanent wave.”
After moving to California in 1937, Mr. Gold started a bank, invested in real estate, and rode horses with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Posse, a highly coveted and prestigious appointment.
Before Louis passed away late in his tenth decade, he and his wife Dorothy created the L’Chaim Fund by earmarking a six-figure donated investment for the purpose of encouraging parenthood among the synagogues’ members: Every year on Rosh Hashanah, every family that has been a Mishkon member for at least a year and has had a new baby or adopted one, receives an equal share of the investment’s annual yield. Depending on how the investment performed and how many new babies have arrived at Mishkon, this has ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, although after the worldwide financial disruption of 2007-2008, interest rates declined to near zero and the yield fell accordingly. While the money given to each family may be used for any purpose, Dorothy and Louis Gold hoped that families would use it to further their child’s education.
Since its establishment in the late 1980s, the Mitzvah Fund has contributed to the Jewish education of more than three dozen children. While many Mishkon families have left the area as their children grew up, at least seven of those L’Chaim Fund babies have remained in our community long enough to celebrate their b’nai mitzvot.