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Women IN Philanthropy – Spotlight Questions: Shari Charous

Tell us about yourself

My name is Shari Charous, and I was an estate planning/trust administration paralegal for 10+ years but now I am a stay-at-home mom to our two children Aiden, who is nine and Marisa, who is seven. I have been married for 11 years to my husband Daniel, an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor whose practice is in Goodyear.

I am originally from Livingston, New Jersey and moved to Tempe in 1994 to attend Arizona State University. I fell in love with Arizona and all the beauty it offered. I loved it so much that I decided to remain here after my graduation and convinced my parents (Janet and Walter) to move here, too! I have one brother, Jared, who lives in Colorado.

What is a Jewish Tradition you love?

I grew up in a Reform Jewish home and always observed all the holidays with both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Together we shared many happy times celebrating with our family and friends. I have carried many of those traditions to my own family. We love inviting friends and family to holidays and dinners so that they can enjoy celebrating with us.

I think my favorite holiday has to be Hanukkah. I love to cook my mother’s brisket, along with her potato latke recipe. It always tastes better with apple sauce and sour cream!  Hanukkah was always so exciting to be with my brother as we said the blessings while we each lit the candles and of course getting to open presents for eight nights. Now, with our children, I have carried on many of those same traditions and enjoy watching them as it brings back many happy memories.

What is something we would want to know about you?

I am a three-year breast cancer survivor with the BRCA2 gene mutation, this is unfortunately part of our family’s legacy that no one knew we carried. There are so many genetic diseases which seem to affect Ashkenazi Jews disproportionately. Fortunately, we have the ability to test people to see if they have this inherited mutation. It makes a huge impact on prevention and treatment of many cancers. I hope that I am an inspiration to my family and others by promoting awareness of this gene.

How did you get involved with Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix?

Over the past 10 years, I have been involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. Whether it be attending a fundraiser or taking a class I always felt it was important to me to be able to connect with my Jewish community. I always made sure to donate either my time and money to an organization that was helping in humanitarian relief, social services and education for those in need. In 2019 I was selected to participate in the MOMentum Trip to Israel. I was so excited to be with a group of like-minded women with different Jewish backgrounds on an adventure of a lifetime. We were sisters, traveling together, finding ourselves and what it means to be a Jewish woman. What could I find that would make me a better Jewish wife and mother? What new traditions could I start with my own family? After experiencing Israel for the first time with 13 amazing ladies, I couldn’t wait to get back and tell my family and friends how connected I felt to our holy land. The spirituality of Israel was just incredible. Momentum seeks to inspire women to transform themselves, transform their families and their communities. I can say that it transformed me in ways I never expected. I owe a huge thank you to the Federation for this opportunity.

If you could have a meal with someone influential (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

If I could have a meal with someone influential, it would be RBG, the famous Ruth Bader Ginsberg. First of all, I am not sure how many people know that Ruth was left-handed (I am, too).  She was told by teachers to use her right hand since her handwriting was so bad. After failing a penmanship test, she was so upset she failed from that day forward she was determined to write left-handed. I just love that even from a young age she was a very determined child and knew she wouldn’t let anything stop her. I certainly had plenty of teachers try and change me to be right-handed, but I knew that being a lefty made me special and I too continued to achieve using my left hand.

I would love to spend an evening conversing with her as I find so much inspiration in her dedication to succeed in spite of the obstacles, she faced in getting to her goals.

And she did have obstacles–from losing her mother at an early age, to keeping up her studies even while helping her husband with his law degree and his cancer battle, all while maintaining her own position in the top of her law class. She was one of nine women in a 500-person law class, doing all this while raising her own children. Judge Ginsberg pursued her dreams after school, all the while fighting discrimination against her, mostly because of her gender. She also fought many of her own cancer battles along the way. In spite of those setbacks, she never missed a court case or a chance to push for equal rights for women. What a most amazing women the Notorious RBG was, and what a most interesting life she had. Sharing an evening with her would be fascinating.

Why is it that a busy woman always get it done? What is your secret?

My secret to always getting things done is to be prepared. “A Good Juggler Can Juggle More.” I like to think as if I am a project manager. How long will things take me to get done? When do I need to complete these tasks to stay on track?  There are only a certain number of hours in a day before the kids need to be picked up, taken to their activities, taken home, prepare dinner, do homework, get ready for the next day. All while keeping up with family, friends and work outside of the home at my husband’s ENT practice. I think my secret to getting all this done is that I am organized and dedicated to making my days count and nothing will stand in my way!

Why are you IN with Women IN Philanthropy? 

I want to be a change maker in the community. I am committed to supporting Jewish life for my children’s generation and for Jewish life now. I want to help empower women to care for their Jewish Community. My hope by being involved in women’s philanthropy is that I can make a difference through fundraising, local programs and to help those in need locally and aboard.

It is an honor to be chosen to be a part of this wonderful opportunity.