One year into a program meant to expand local “legacy” giving to Jewish causes, 11 participating organizations have received more than 145 legacy promises or gifts outright.
Those numbers are a major validation of the Life and Legacy Program, an effort by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer to encourage support for Jewish life through estate plans, trust funds, and other future-oriented resources like insurance or retirement plans.
The foundation, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was one of the first organizations to be selected to participate in the nationwide initiative by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation of Massachusetts.
It provides training, counseling, and incentive grants to help organizations encourage their supporters to make legacy or endowment gifts.
Scott Schaefer, JCFGM board president, said, “Many families make these gifts together through a donor-advised fund or other types of funds. This creates a wonderful family connection and helps families pass on their values through the generations.”
JCFGM executive director Julie Davidson Meyers also said she is pleased by the response so far. “The beauty of endowments and legacy gifts is that they enable a donor to make an impact now and in the future and extend their values and passions beyond their lifetime.”
Representatives from the participating organizations (see box) commit to attending a series of workshops through the program’s two-year period, each dealing with a different aspect of legacy solicitation. A recent session featured Xan Blake of the Blake Partnership of Princeton Junction, on the topic “How to become a successful solicitor by developing one’s own personalized ‘asking style.’”
Life and Legacy program coach Celia Bavier said the workshops “are a wonderful opportunity for each of our partner organizations to gain important skills in ‘making the ask,’ feeling comfortable about it, and even enjoying it. They also enable our community partners to exchange ideas and get to know one another.”
‘Survive and prosper’
The individuals and families who have pledged to the Life and Legacy Program of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer describe what motivated them.
Devorah Blumberg, East Windsor, for the Blumberg family — “As Life and Legacy donors, we greatly value our local Jewish day school, Shalom Torah Academy of East Windsor, which continues to provide the foundation of a strong Jewish education to children of diverse backgrounds. Without a Jewish education, Jewish children are more likely to intermarry and assimilate, and the next generation of Jewry will be lost.”
Harvey Fram, Lawrenceville, for the Fram family — “My wife Carine and I came to the U.S. from South Africa in 1987 and have been living in Lawrenceville and have been members of Adath Israel Congregation since 1991. In our ongoing search for a new rabbi, I was struck by one important reality: The only way to ensure that Adath Israel continues to attract and retain top-quality staff and be able to compete with big-city synagogues is if we pay for it.”
Rick Glazer, Lawrenceville — “With Life and Legacy, I feel very comfortable over where we are going. Our community is changing. Through our programs of legacies and endowments, the foundation can help the agencies survive and prosper in the future. I was taught by my parents to serve, build, and strengthen my community and feel that through the foundation I am doing so.”
Nedda Pollack, Lawrenceville, a donor to Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County — “As the government becomes an increasingly unpredictable funder of programs that help individuals and families in need, it is ever more important for those of us who can to leave part of our estates to the agencies and organizations we expect to survive us. I find this a fairly comfortable way to give since it does not impact our ability to meet our own needs as we age. I heartily recommend it to others.”
Scott and Jeri Schaefer, Grant and Lyndsay Schaefer, Princeton, donors to JFCS, JCF, and Congregation Beth Chaim — “Our family’s philanthropy is deeply rooted in our Jewish values: caring about the needs of those in our community, helping others as we have been helped, and making sure that our traditions and heritage are standing and thriving for the next generation. These organizations have strong leadership and are good stewards of the funds they receive, which was important to us as we sought to do our small part to make the world a better place.”
Ron Schnur, Princeton — “With insight, wisdom, and efficiency, my parents decided on establishing a donor-advised fund for their children, one that would bring them together in years to come. We decided to focus on Jewish and environmental causes; to favor organizations in which we had personal involvement — sweat equity; that this fund is never to replace our personal tzedaka, and that the purpose of the fund is tzedaka, not to establish a perpetual memorial.”
The Schwartz Family, Princeton — “Each year our family gathers to celebrate Hanukka. We have three adult children, each of whom has two children. Every year, one family takes their turn to recommend up to four charities they would like to support, with funds from our Foundation Donor Advised Fund. Through this process, everyone learns something, and it is a wonderful way for us to pass on our values.”
Sally Shakun, Cranbury, donor to Beth El Synagogue of East Windsor, JCF, and JFCS — “I am passionate not only about our generation but the generations that will come after. A vibrant Jewish culture is of the utmost importance to me. It is our obligation to think outside of ourselves. We did not inherit a wonderful Jewish community by people thinking only of themselves; it was provided for us by our ancestors and it is our duty to leave the same for those who will follow us. My philosophy: “A full belly makes a better citizen.”
Amy Rubin, Hillsborough, a donor to The Jewish Center and to Beth El Synagogue of Bucks County — Rubin said she made the decision to convert to Judaism after her marriage to Ken Rubin. She has been studying Torah and Jewish history throughout her adult life. One of her favorite phrases from the Talmud is “All Jewish souls were at Sinai…even those that were not yet born.” Amy’s legacy gifts to the congregations will support future generations at both synagogues and is intended “to help others find their Jewish soul.”