Ray and Barbara Alpert were true pillars of the community and of Long Beach State University.
At a moment of crisis, Ray and Barbara stepped up and through their generosity saved the Jewish Studies Program, which allowed for the continued offering of classes, degrees, and regular lecture series, but also helped the Program expand, bringing artists, performers, and leading scholars to campus.
Ray and Barbara were also strong and consistent supporters of Beach Hillel, which provides services to Jewish students not only at Long Beach State, but at several other universities and community colleges in the Long Beach and Orange County areas. With Ray and Barbara’s help, Beach Hillel has been able to provide free kosher Friday night dinners to students, opportunities to work for social justice, and various educational and social activities that encourage students' personal growth and exploration.
At the community’s “BeJeweled Gala 2019”, Barbara Alpert was honored for her decades-long commitment to Jewish philanthropy. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Congressman Alan Lowenthal singled Barbara out for particular praise. In her speech afterwards, Barbara described how she convinced her husband that the two of them should step up with a donation for naming what is now the Barbara and Ray Alpert Jewish Community Center, Long Beach. Barbara was also an active member of Temple Israel, and supported organizations such as Jewish Family and Children’s Services and the California Conference for Equality and Justice.
One issue dear to Ray's heart was building bridges among communities. Ray helped fund a collaborative project on campus involving Jewish Studies and Chicano and Latino Studies. The idea was to bring speakers to campus that would highlight the long-standing relationships between Jews and Latino/as in Southern California. Before passing, he and Barbara came to campus to hear Dr. George Sanchez from USC describe the unique nature of the Boyle Heights community of the 1930s and '40s, a place where immigrant Jews mixed with Mexican and Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and Japanese-Americans, forming alliances of mutual support. Ray was born and raised in Boyle Heights, and he was delighted to see students from Jewish Studies and Chicano and Latino Studies classes come together to learn about this common past.
Our campus and community were truly blessed by Ray and Barbara Alpert’s life and life-long work. Their generosity and activism touched the lives of countless people in the Long Beach area and their passing leaves a gaping hole in our hearts.