Local family competes to give

Local family competes to give

Phyllis and Edward Weiss and their children and grandchildren display a check representing their donation to CAMERA on Campus.
Phyllis and Edward Weiss and their children and grandchildren display a check representing their donation to CAMERA on Campus.

A LIVINGSTON couple came up with a clever way to get their grandchildren excited about giving: They let the kids vie for the right to choose how to make a sizable donation to a Jewish nonprofit.

“My husband and I were raised to believe in helping our community,” said Phyllis Weiss, who coheads the Phyllis and Edward Weiss Charitable Foundation. “This year, we wanted our kids and grandkids to feel part of our giving, so we set up a contest that got them thinking about how our family can best serve others.”

The Weisses’ eight children and grandchildren gathered information about numerous Jewish organizations, their missions, and how they make a positive impact on the world. 

Each child then picked a charity they found meaningful and submitted it as a candidate for the 2017 Phyllis and Edward Weiss Charitable Trust Award. 

The winning organization — CAMERA on Campus, a department of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America — received $100,000. Other organizations under consideration, including Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, StandWithUs, The Aleph Institute, Lev LaLev, and United Hatzalah, received smaller sums.

“It wasn’t easy to choose from so many wonderful Jewish organizations,” said Edward Weiss. “Ultimately, we felt that CAMERA’s academic rigor, institutional integrity, 35-year history, and serious campus programs offered the best way to build future Jewish leaders, a cause dear to our hearts.”

CAMERA on Campus is an international program that gives students access to high-level instruction from leading Middle East specialists, global networking with pro-Israel writers and activists, seminars and workshops with noted authors, and event planning and material assistance. 

Participants in CAMERA’s fellows program are leaders on campus. “It’s a wonderful honor and we’re grateful for the generous gift,” said CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin. “The Weisses’ donation will help us get closer to being on 100 campuses, bring more world-famous speakers, and produce more educational materials for young people.”

“This contest was a win-win in so many ways,” said Phyllis. “CAMERA received an impactful gift, our children and particularly our grandchildren have a greater awareness of Jewish needs, and we’ve jump-started their own charitable giving.” 

“It’s a fun way to get everyone in the family thinking about charity,” she added. “Other families might want to try something similar.”

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