Faces of Memphis and Shoham: Charlotte Fineberg Bruechner

by JCPConnect-

Interview and photo by Lynnie Mirvis

Part of Memphis Jewish Federation’s ongoing efforts to connect Memphis and Israel, the 70 Faces of Memphis and Shoham project was designed to form real connections between the people of Jewish Memphis and the people of Shoham, Israel, Memphis’s partner city through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership 2Gether program. The project serves as a way to connect Jewish Memphians to each other by showcasing their unique character and contributions to the community.

Meet Charlotte: Charlotte, or ‘Toot’ as she is called by her friends, says her family goes back a long way in Memphis – over 100 years. Her father‘s family came from Minsk and Grodno, and her mother’s family were of Scottish-Irish origin. He had been a medic in World War II and married her mother after the war.

“With my dual worldview, I knew Christians were ok, Jews were OK. So, why did each group fight among themselves? Why didn’t they all get along?”

“The goal for me is living up to treating people humanely and kindly, living out of inclusiveness that I interpret as part of Judaism – the Golden Rule. Help people, and if you have more, share more!”

“In junior high, we rode buses, and my friend and I gave our seats to black people because we were taught to respect elders, but we did it whether they were black or white. It was 1960. It was against the norms of the time.”

“Once when I was walking home from school, I told some boys to leave this little boy alone – they were bullying him. It wasn’t the right thing to do, to take advantage of someone smaller.”

“Later, I followed my bliss and got degrees and work in psychology and art history, and met my husband here in Memphis.” She also became an avid gardener, giving care to her garden as she did to the people in her life.

“When I helped people in alcohol and drug treatment, the focus was on the positive, on the person making a difference in their own life.” Her strong sense of family and deep values have made a difference!

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