By Samantha Dubrinsky,
BJF Director of Community Impact
What do a Marine & former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a family from California and a Birmingham Jewish Federation professional have in common? Actually, a lot.
All three are connected deeply to the Jewish community and Birmingham-Southern College. This unlikely trio became connected in a recent email exchange. Gen. Charles Krulak, the decorated Marine General and former president of BSC, emailed me, an alum of the school and the BJF professional referenced above, and asked me to connect with a Jewish family in California who was considering sending their daughter to BSC.
I immediately called the family and told them how wonderful our Birmingham Jewish community is, how their daughter would have a great network here and how wonderful my experience, academically and socially, was on “the Hilltop,” as the campus is known.
I could tell the family, specifically the mom, was grateful for the outreach from our Jewish community. She had concerns, being from an area in California where the Jewish community is large, about her daughter having enough Jewish life at BSC to feel fulfilled and connected.
We hung up and I felt pretty good about our conversation. I could tell the family was leaning towards BSC, even though they had several other great options for college.
A few weeks later, I received a copy of another email from Gen. Krulak. This time, the email was addressed to the mom I spoke with. The daughter had decided to enroll at BSC and the family was coming to Birmingham for freshmen orientation and hoped to be able to see the Levite Jewish Community Center and other Jewish institutions in town.
I met the family at the LJCC on a Sunday morning and gave them a tour of the facility. We talked about the best dorms at BSC, the tight-knit community feel that BSC and the Birmingham Jewish community have, and our connection to Gen. Krulak.
“How in the world do you know Gen. Krulak?” the mom asked me. “He seems like such a prominent figure in Birmingham. I can’t figure out why he reached out to us.”
I explained that while Gen. Krulak became President of BSC the year I left, we had become connected through his volunteer efforts at the BJF. The mom was astounded that Gen. Krulak was involved in the Jewish community. I told her about his connection to Israel and his love for the Jewish state and our local Jewish community.
“Wow,” she said. “We felt so special when he reached out to us and now that connection feels even more special.”
“Yep,” I said. “He’s a wonderful man and I feel very lucky to know him. Just don’t get on his bad side,” I half-jokingly added. We laughed and I sent the family on their way, knowing that we would be adding a new Jewish college student to our community in the fall, thanks, in part, to our good friend Gen. Charles Krulak and the wonderful efforts of BSC’s admission staff to recruit Jewish students.