June 2019 Member Spotlight and Builders Circle Profile: Micki Miller
One might not have guessed how strongly Micki Miller would connect to Congregation Beth Am in her adult life. After all, as she talks about her Jewish upbringing she says “My mother was an atheist, and my dad just never thought about it!” Nonetheless, they instilled in her a positive sense of Jewish identity, surrounding Micki with her extended Jewish family, sharing fond holiday memories and a loving community feeling.
One might not also have guessed that a girl growing up in Queens, New York in the 1950’s would go on to become one of the first female computer programmers at the Silicon Valley tech behemoth Hewlett Packard. It was 1970 when Micki started there, and on her fourth day of work she met Dan Miller, who would become her husband. When their first son Jeremy was born, Micki became a full-time mother. Their second son Josh was born 2 ½ years later.
The family joined Beth Am in 1976, and Jeremy started in the religious school, where Josh followed once he was old enough. Micki began volunteering to help Rabbi Akselrad with administrative tasks in the office and with assorted projects that came up, such as the Purim carnival and other events. Later, Micki served on the Beth Am board and chaired the Music and Art Committee, the Dues Committee, and the Religious Practices Committee, where she helped navigate transitioning our High Holy Day services to the Flint Center. On the Dues Committee, Micki partnered with Judy Sadoff to carry out the enormous task of computerizing all the Beth Am membership records, painstakingly entering data for the entire congregation – it took an entire summer!
Another highlight in Micki’s Beth Am story was working with Rabbi Block to develop a Selichot worship service, and also studying Torah with Rabbi Block for seven years. Micki became an avid adult learner after watching her sons become Bar Mitzvah and Confirmands. “I realized that I didn’t know a whole lot!” So she set herself on a path to learning, becoming a bat mitzvah in 1985, and attended UAHC study kallot for 13 years. To this day, her regular one-on-one Torah Study with Rabbi Watenmaker is a practice she feels strongly about. Together they delve into the themes and lessons derived from some of the less studied books, ultimately digressing into discussions of everything Jewish under the sun.
In addition to the more joyful and fulfilling moments of their Beth Am experience, Micki and her family came to rely on the loving support of their community during the difficult years following her husband Dan’s diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s in 1999. Micki recalls how, when Rabbi Marder started working at Beth Am later that year, she reached out and called Dan immediately. They started spending time together regularly. “She was wonderful with him!” Eventually Rabbi Marder helped Dan and Micki through his final days, preparing them both for the end of his life. Dan died in 2007 at the age of 65. Micki recalls how powerful it was to see the entire Beit Kehillah filled with friends from the community. “The support that I got from the Beth Am community before and after Dan’s death was very important to me.”
Her own experience, and witnessing how the Beth Am community supports other people through the ups and downs of their lives, has inspired Micki to be a loyal and generous donor and a member of our Builders Circle. “I enjoy supporting Beth Am, it makes me feel good. I feel really connected to the congregation with the projects that I have supported at Beth Am over the years.” Micki has always loved funding specific projects from what she calls “Rabbi Marder’s Wish List.” Micki sponsored the stained glass windows in the Beit Kehillah, our new High Holy Days Machzorim, our Shabbat prayerbooks, and Cantor Lauren’s musical CD, among other things. So planning a legacy gift came naturally for her, to be able to continue to invest in the community she loves for the long-term. “We are a caring community -- everybody from the facilities staff to the rabbis and everyone in between. I know that if I have a need, I will be helped. This is our strength – we can all count on Beth Am when we need our community -- and even sometimes when we don't know we need it!"
The Beth Am Builders Circle is the group of members who have included a legacy gift such as a bequest or retirement fund beneficiary designation to Beth Am. For more information about making a legacy gift to Beth Am, please email Director of Development Mandy Eisner or call (650) 493-4661. For sample bequest language, please visit the Legacy Giving page of the Beth Am website and download the brochure.