Elisa Linowes’ Love, Legacy, and Impact to Be Felt for Generations
By Anita Silvert
Richard and Elisa (z"l) Linowes
Throughout Elisa Linowes’ (z"l) life, she had one goal: to be a positive and joyous presence in the world. Anyone lucky enough to have known her would agree that she succeeded.
To continue her incredible legacy and honor her experience as a fundraiser, Elisa’s husband, Richard, and their children, Dahlia, Selia, Jeremy, and Natan, established the Richard G and Elisa G Linowes Charitable Fund in her memory after she passed away in August of 2020.
The family’s Fund has four main components: educational excellence, cultural commitment, food as a celebration, and improving social discourse.
In the area of cultural commitment, included in this fund is a generous Impact Fellowship for two students a year over a six-year period to attend Alexander Muss High School in Israel (High School in Israel), Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) flagship study abroad program in Israel.
The Fellowship is symbolic of the Linowes’ generosity, as three of the four Linowes children have already taken part in this remarkable pluralistic program, which consists of a full semester abroad in Israel, allowing students to maintain their home curriculum and combine it with an experiential learning program with the land of Israel as their living classroom.
At the core of Elisa’s memory is her abiding love for all people, for building bridges, building community, and welcoming all who crossed her path, regardless of their background. No one was a stranger to Elisa for long. She had seemingly unending energy and brought joy to countless others. Every project she took on was completed with flair and warmth. The family said she modeled her life after the iconic actress and comedienne Lucille Ball – a huge heart, a grab-it-all approach to life, and a little wackiness, even naming their new pandemic puppy Lucy. When a neighbor was in need, others may have brought a casserole; Elisa brought ice cream. Elisa was the “extra Mom” for the children’s friends. She was a magnetic force, making connections, meeting new people, bringing them into her sphere.
Elisa pictured with her daughter, Dahlia
Elisa spent years as a substitute teacher in the public school system. She didn’t want to teach just one grade; she wanted to interact with every child in the school. Her dedication to education is why the Fund will also provide support for the outstanding educators in the Montgomery public school system.
In addition, given Elisa’s passion for learning about other cultures, the Fund is looking to raise the level of social discourse in ways that can be duplicated in other communities.
Elisa came to the Jewish community later in life and was immediately drawn to its call for Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Jewish values of community, identity, and education were her watchwords, which drew her to JNF-USA’s High School in Israel. It combined everything she loved about her Jewish life: Zionism, community building, broadening horizons, education, and fun. Her children, Selia (2011 alum) said the program brought her back to her Jewish identity, while Dahlia (2018 alum) said the immersive nature of the program made it extremely powerful. Every day, Dahlia thinks about her experience and the friends she made.
Elisa and Richard's children pictured at the famous "ahava" monument in Israel
High School in Israel filled in her earlier Jewish education gaps, she said, giving it context and breadth.
The family has high hopes for the students fortunate enough to take part in the High School in Israel experience. Like the Linowes alums, they wish for students to come home realizing what a gift it is to live amidst a new culture, to travel, to have taken advantage of all the program has to give and to begin giving back to the Jewish community. Students come home with new and broadened perspectives, along with a renewed love, for the land and the people of Israel.
Elisa’s children will be choosing the fund’s Impact Fellowship recipients, giving others an opportunity to enjoy a life-changing semester abroad while keeping their mother’s memory alive.
Creating a memorial charity makes one think carefully about the hopes for the world they will leave behind. In her last moments, Elisa Linowes did what she could for others, and with the Richard G and Elisa G Linowes Charitable Fund, her legacy is will be felt for generations to come.