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‘Relentless volunteer’
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‘Relentless volunteer’

Rick Glazer completes decades of active service

With Rick Glazer, at a 2014 celebration at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville marking 50 years of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater
Mercer, are Celia Bavier, left, and Heather Berman. Photo courtesy Jewish Community Foundation of Gr
With Rick Glazer, at a 2014 celebration at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville marking 50 years of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater
Mercer, are Celia Bavier, left, and Heather Berman. Photo courtesy Jewish Community Foundation of Gr

Though Richard “Rick” Glazer, a “relentless volunteer in the community for over 50 years,” is stepping down from “active duty,” in the words of Mark Merkovitz, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, the effects of his activism will be felt even longer than his tenure.

Judging by Glazer’s long record of service, Merkovitz’s description appears apt.

Glazer, who now divides his time between Hightstown and Boca Raton, Fla., served on the federation board for 25 years, between 1965 and 1990, as treasurer from 1973 to 1974, and as president from 1974 to 1977. He was also involved in three revisions of the federation’s by-laws.

Another Glazer fan, Julie Davidson Meyers, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, said, “If you could look him up in the dictionary, there would be a one-word definition, and it would be ‘community.’” 

Glazer was elected a trustee of the foundation in 1976, when his father, Henry (one of the founding trustees, in 1964, of what was then called the Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Trenton), stepped down. Since 1983 Glazer has also served as foundation secretary, except for the two years (1992-94) when he was president; he left the position in June 2016 and is now an honorary trustee.

Continuing her description of Glazer’s activism, Meyers said, “Philanthropy, tzedakah, oozes from every pore in his body — he is dedicated to a fault.” Although most people focus their volunteerism on one or two areas, she said, Glazer has been there “on everything we needed. If there is a problem, he was there to help you out. He was there to make sure the community was thriving.”

Glazer placed the key to his deep involvement with his parents — his father, in addition to his foundation roles, was chair of the federation’s annual campaign and later president, and during the same period his mother, Geralyn, was chair of the Women’s Division campaign, and later a president herself. “I learned federation sitting around the dining room table,” Glazer said.

Founded in the 1920s to centralize fund-raising for Jewish community agencies, federation exerted budgetary control over the agencies, which presented their budgets to the appropriate federation committee. Once it was approved, Glazer told NJJN, the federation “made up any difference between other funds coming in and what was needed to run the organization.” 

Later, when federation was no longer able to raise enough money to cover the needs of all the agencies, they had to raise money on their own and became “constituent agencies.”

The foundation also holds funds designated for specific purposes. Glazer’s father created the Henry and Geralyn Glazer Greenwood House Scholarship Fund to provide an annual scholarship to an employee of Greenwood House, the senior living and care facility in Ewing, to pursue additional professional training. Geralyn Glazer, stricken with dementia, spent her last years at Greenwood House, and, said Glazer, “My father was so impressed by the care the staff gave her that on her death he created the scholarship fund.” 

And it turned out that the young woman who gave his father physical therapy while he was at Greenwood House had been trained with money from the scholarship fund he had created.

Custodial funds at the foundation allow agencies or synagogues with excess money on hand to have it invested by the foundation’s investment committee of professionals.

Five years ago, the foundation — with funding from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to provide incentives, education, training, and resources — launched its Life and Legacy program, which helps agencies and synagogues create their own endowment program — “a form of long-term planning,” Glazer said.

Born in Chicago, Glazer’s family moved to Lower Makefield, Pa., across the river from Trenton, when he was 6 months old (Henry owned the Trenton Pipe Nipple Company). He attended Har Sinai Temple in Trenton (now in Pennington) and was active as a teen in both Har Sinai Temple Youth and the National Federation of Temple Youth, and was a member of Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville from 1976 until the late 1990s.

At Yale University, Glazer completed a major that combined mathematics and philosophy — “I call it symbolic logic,” he said — that was something of a ’50s-style precursor of what would become computer science. Of the four people in his major, two earned doctorates in communication theory and ended up as professors of computer science. If he hadn’t gone to Harvard Law School, Glazer said, he probably would have ended up in a similar place.

Instead he served as law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Arthur S. Lane in Trenton, in 1962-63, and then for a few years as an attorney at Kahn, Schildkraut & Levy in Trenton, later joining his father in the family business. 

Glazer, who does not have children, said, “Having helped create an organization like this is my legacy; my legacy will be whatever is in the foundation.” To wit, through his estate, as part of the Life and Legacy program, he has created two funds that benefit the federation and the foundation respectively.

Glazer sees the federation and foundation as integral to the Jewish community. “I have a very strong Jewish identity — as a people more so than as a religion,” he said. “These are my people, and it was through the federation and the foundation that I could help support my people.”

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