Meet Harel Turkel

Don’t Wait to Commit to an Endowment. Do it While You’re Young.

Several years back, Harel Turkel was preparing to depart on a JFNA National Young Leadership Cabinet Mission to Mumbai, India. The timing of the trip was inconvenient since it would keep him away from his then 6-year-old daughter Maia’s siddur acceptance ceremony at Krieger Schechter Day School.

On the night before he was scheduled to depart, as he was tucking a disappointed Maia into bed, she asked “why are people in India more important than you being here for my siddur ceremony?” Harel, Chief Excellence Officer at SOS Technology Group, explained to Maia that he traveled around the world “to help people who are unable to help themselves. There is probably a little girl that I’ll meet in Mumbai who is not as fortunate as we are,” he added. In response, Maia leapt out of bed, went to her dresser and took out her favorite bracelet. “When you meet that little girl, give her this from me,” she told him.

Ensuring that their children Maia, now 9, Elan, 6 and Ella, 18 months, grow up understanding how fortunate they are, and recognizing their obligation to help those in need, are galvanizing forces behind Turkel and his wife Randi’s philanthropy and volunteer work. So are the examples that their parents set while the Pikesville couple, both Baltimore natives, was growing up. “My parents instilled in me the idea of giving back,” says Harel, who recalls participating in the Walks for Israel in the 1980s and brings his two older children to the Associated’s annual phone-a-thons.

A member of The Associated’s Board of Directors, Harel also serves as vice president of Jewish Community Services, is a member of the JFNA Young Leadership Cabinet, and an AABGU Zin Fellow. Randi, Senior Vice President of Business Development at SOS, is also deeply committed to Jewish causes. A 2017 recipient of the Fred Walpert Young Leadership Award, she is an active volunteer at her children’s day school.

The Turkels give to The Associated because “it’s a one-stop shop,” says Harel. “I like that there’s a centralized address for Jewish Baltimore giving. It’s crucial to support Jewish Baltimore but the fact that my dollars also touch cities like Ashkelon [Israel] and Odessa, [Ukraine] really speaks to me and my family.”

Harel and Randi have endowed a forever gift to The Associated because they seek to make a long-term commitment that will benefit future generations regardless of what may happen in the short-term. “There’s no better example of what can go wrong than the economic downturn of 2008,” says Harel. “Those who were once donors can become recipients. Young people can have health problems. It’s our responsibility to provide continued support to our families and the community. We shouldn’t wait until our 50s and 60s to commit to an endowment. Do it while you’re young,” he advises. “It’s the best gift you can give to both your family and your community.”

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