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Sharing a Legacy of Acceptance

Gilana Shira Alpert had a zest for life. She embraced her musical and theatrical gifts, her heritage, her family, and her passion for bringing out the best in everyone. When she unexpectedly passed away in 2007, Gilana’s family established a fund at the Community Foundation to honor her memory.

In 2011, the Alpert family – Gilana’s parents Rabbi Alan and Anna, sister Aleza, and brother David – began to award grants from the Fund in areas that Gilana had felt passionately about: sex education, Holocaust awareness, theatre education, and equality advocacy. With the Fund focused on a mission of celebrating acceptance, the family adopted the butterfly imagery, because Gilana had once said, “butterflies, while gliding from place to place, are good listeners who encourage changing mindsets and acceptance.”

Today, October 23, is the 10th annual “Living for Today” concert, produced in New York by Broadway director (and Gilana’s brother), David Alpert. Featuring Broadway’s biggest stars, the concert has become an eagerly anticipated event, and an important fundraiser for the Fund.

On November 4, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Muskegon Community College is sponsoring a performance of the play “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” This poignant story of children in the Terezine concentration camp during the Holocaust is also a benefit for Gilana’s Fund. Performance and ticket information can be found here and you can give directly to Gilana’s Fund online.

Looking Towards Tomorrow is a new youth initiative that will continue Gilana’s work and bring the important message of the Fund to future generations. Led by her sister, Aleza, “Looking Towards Tomorrow” will include curriculum for teachers to enhance acceptance skills, scholarships for youth to participate in leadership programs, grants to support youth-driven programs and more.

Education, acceptance, understanding – of our communities, each other, and ourselves.  Gilana Shira Alpert’s legacy lives on in the Fund and the programs it supports.