Once, when Carol A. Marshall was ushering at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, she noticed a mother and daughter engaged in a conflict during High Holy Day services.
“Early in the service, despite what her daughter said, the mother insisted that she had to rise, although it was now difficult for her,” Marshall wrote about the experience in a reflection. “The discussion went back and forth a few times, with the 80-plus-year-old woman growing more adamant each time. I walked over, knelt down, and quietly said to her, ‘G-d doesn’t care if you stand or not. G-d cares more about what’s in your heart.’ She sighed deeply, smiled, and relaxed in her seat. Her daughter looked at me and mouthed a thank you. This lovely lady was at peace staying seated at every service she attended afterward.”
Marshall is a teacher by training and a proposal manager and grant writer by trade. She works at United Way of Greater Cleveland and has worked in her current profession for 30 years starting at Orange School District, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, Cleveland Botanical Garden and at The Music Settlement.
“I look at a grant proposal as a way of educating someone else,” she said, adding that the satisfaction has several layers. “It’s knowing that I’m contributing to people having better lives. That even though I’m not doing the actual work … I’m contributing in my own way and that’s very satisfying to me.”
In her nearly four years at United Way, Marshall, 69, has won more than $4.5 million from local and state funders for the anti-poverty agency.
“At United Way of Greater Cleveland alone, Carol has accomplished critical work to support programs like Accountable Health Communities and 2-1-1 HelpLink, United Way’s 24/7 helpline,” wrote her nominator, Augie Napoli, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland. “Her quiet strength is a defining feature of the community she chooses to live in and continues to help repair.”
Marshall has served as president of the Temple Women’s Association, serves on The Temple board of trustees, sings in the congregational choir, attends Torah study on Saturday mornings and afternoon classes.
Born in Queens, N.Y., her family moved to New Rochelle, where she grew up at Westchester Reform Temple. Her family was among its early members. In fact, as a little girl she attended holiday services and religious school in a church before the congregation had its own building.
She came to Cleveland as a college student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and married Richard Marshall in 1972. They settled in Lyndhurst, had two children, Rebecca and Leah, and divorced in 1986.
She met Joe Newman, her significant other of 15 years, at The Temple’s Torah study class.
Marshall enjoys educating colleagues about Judaism and makes a point of inviting non-Jews to her seders.
In 2000, she was asked to join Cleveland Hillel’s board, and was invited to speak at High Holy Day services there. She chose to discuss Gil Mann’s book, “How to Get More Out of Being Jewish: Even If..,” personalizing his framework.
“One gentleman told me it was probably the best sermon he had ever heard,” she wrote. “But the most touching comment was from a John Carroll University student. ‘You have no idea how much what you said meant to me.’”