LIFE & LEGACY is a national initiative funded by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation of Massachusetts, which promotes legacy and endowment giving among Jewish community organizations, including synagogues, schools and social service agencies. The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer sponsors and administers the LIFE & LEGACY Program in our area. This year, 14 community organizations are participating in the program and they have secured over 430 Promises, or legacy gifts. Partner organizations include: Adath Israel Congregation; Beth El Synagogue; Congregation Beth Chaim; Congregation Toras Emes; Greenwood House; The Jewish Center, Princeton; Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer; Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County; Kehilat Hanahar; the National Museum of American Jewish History; Or Chadash; Rimon — The Mordecai T. Mezrich Center for Jewish Learning; Shalom Heritage Center; and Temple Beth-El.
Each individual and family that leaves a legacy gift through the LIFE & LEGACY Program has their own story to tell. Below are just a few of the wonderful reasons and stories of why donors have chosen to make a legacy gift at this time.
Leaving Legacies: Strengthening Our Future
To my future grandchildren
I don’t know you yet. You haven’t been born or conceived; your mothers aren’t even in serious relationships! Yet I think of you. I wonder what you will know of me, whether we will share our holidays, whether you will think of yourself as Jewish. I deeply hope so.
There’s a story that goes with my Jewish identity. A story worth telling. I was raised culturally Christian but had a strong interest in learning what other people believed. In college, I studied religions and grew interested in Judaism. When I joined my Jewish boyfriend (your grandfather) at his family’s home for Chanukah, I surprised my future in-laws by knowing that there were three blessings to recite on the first night.
Later, after your grandfather and I married, I began to be interested in Judaism for me, not just as a subject of academic study. We searched for a Reform synagogue and found Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough. I enrolled in an Introduction to Judaism course that led to my conversion. I got very involved in the synagogue. I grew more comfortable with the holidays and even adopted a modest form of Kashrut. From a curiosity of what other people believe as a teen to a full embrace of a Judaism that could be mine as an adult, I chose to lead a Jewish life, one with meaning and purpose.
I was blessed to be part of two communities and have made a legacy commitment to each. Temple Beth-El, ever close to my heart, nurtured my Jewish soul; The Jewish Center of Princeton, where I worked briefly, engaged my Jewish mind. I would not be the Jew I am without both of them.
So… my loves, someday you will walk this earth and you will learn about your Jewish heritage and identity. I hope my story of embracing Judaism will inspire you. I hope you will choose to lead a meaningful and joyous Jewish life with the support of a wonderful community (or two).
All my love,
The Fram Family — Why I made a legacy gift to Adath Israel
My wife, Carine and I came to the US from South Africa in 1987, and have been living in Lawrenceville and been members of Adath Israel Congregation (of Lawrenceville) since 1991. All three of our children have experienced their whole Jewish life cycle (bris/baby naming through to bar/bat mitzvah’s) at Adath.
Obviously there are many worthy charities that we could give to, but we decided to keep our legacy giving close to home. We like the idea of giving to worthy organizations that do not have a huge reach, so that we know that our giving makes a difference.
One of those organizations is Homefront, where Carine has been volunteering for many years and has witnessed the good work that they do.
The other is Adath. I’ve been involved in some aspects of financial budgeting at Adath, and I realize how much it costs to run a synagogue. I’m also very concerned about the problems of changing demographics in the Jewish community – we need to be planning today so that Adath can survive and be vibrant 100 and more years in the future.
In our ongoing search for a new rabbi, I was struck by one important reality. Just as in any other profession, better rabbis get paid more. The only way to ensure that Adath continues to attract and retain top quality staff and to be able to compete with big city synagogues is if we pay for it. That was an important motivator for me in directing my legacy gift.
Rick Glazer: My Jewish Legacy
I learned Federation at the Dining Room table. I returned to this community from Law School in 1962. In 1963 my father was the Federation Campaign Chairman. Toward the end of the 1960s he became Federation President and my mother was Women’s Division Campaign Chairman and then Women’s Division President. While I was growing up and then after I returned, dinner conversation was often about the Federation, its goals, its operations, its campaign, and the individuals involved in all of this.
Needless to say, I soon became involved with Federation. I attended a Young Leadership Program (run by Clive Klatzkin and Dick Kohn) and became active. For some reason, I was never involved with any of the agencies (we called them subventions then) and, instead, wound up on the Federation Board. In 1974, I became President of the Federation.
This Foundation was formed in 1963, the year my father was Campaign Chairman, and he was one of the original Trustees and, again, I learned about Foundation at the dining room table. In 1976 my father retired from the Foundation Board and I was elected a Trustee. In 1983, I became Secretary and have been such ever since, except for the two years I was President.
According to Milton Feinberg’s book A History of the Jewish Federation of Greater Trenton, “The continuing expansion of local services necessitated the creation of a special Federation fund in the form of a foundation to meet unanticipated fiscal crises in the agencies and to supplement existing capital building assets.” At the time we started we were one of only 20 Jewish foundations in this country. The Trustees were elected by the Federation Board and we functioned as an adjunct of Federation. In fact, in most Jewish communities the foundation was a committee of the federation. We were one of the minority of communities where the foundation is a separate legal entity.
We went along for many years acting as an arm of Federation, supporting it and the agencies. In fact, it was not until 1985 that we got our first Donor Advised Fund. For many years we had no Executive Director or staff and I handled many of the Foundation’s administrative requirements from my office.
Before the Federation merged with the Princeton UJA the Foundation was restructured so the Board became self perpetuating, in that it elected the Trustees.
The last of the old guard leaders, Clive Klatzkin, left the Presidency of the Foundation in 2007. As I told Clive when I spoke to him in January, one of the best things he ever did for the community was to get Florence Kahn to serve as President. She and she alone has forced the Foundation to rethink what we are and what we should be doing. Those of you who were here can remember Florence and I locking horns over where the Foundation was going and what it should be.
Then along came Life & Legacy. I now feel very comfortable over where we are going. Our community is changing. When I started, the Federation was the deficit financing source for the agencies; we reviewed each agency’s budget every year and the Federation would fund any shortage between what the agency could raise and what it needed for its operations. With changes in agencies and patterns of giving this has not been possible for some time and the Annual Campaign is raising less and less of what the agencies need. 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.
Gil and Ellen Gordon
I grew up in the small town of Warwick, NY. My father owned a hardware store, and two of his brothers and a brother-in-law owned other stores. The Jewish population in the area was very, very small but my father and his brothers, among others, were deeply involved in the doings of our local synagogue that served a number of small towns in the region. The model that they and their spouses set for creating a Jewish awareness among their kids and being engaged in many ways rubbed off on many of my cousins and me, and now on our children. My wife Ellen (from Washington, DC) and I moved to NJ in 1974 and our two children (now 31 and 35) live nearby.
Why did we decide to leave a Legacy gift? Once we understood the legacy concept and how it is such a “painless” way to give, it was something that we did very easily. The logic behind it is brilliant, and we feel good about having done our small part to help sustain Jewish communal life in this area. Also, I had the opportunity to hear Harold Grinspoon speak at a United Synagogue convention in 2012; I don’t think anyone could hear him talk and not get caught up in his enthusiasm for focusing on Jewish continuity.
We made bequests in our wills to our congregation (The Jewish Center) and several other organizations in the community. These are no-strings-attached gifts. I know from my roles in our congregation’s leadership, that the best gift is the one that is made with the fewest restrictions. We are comfortable entrusting the decision of where to use the money best to the leaders who will be in place at the time.
The cliché about needing to provide for those who follow us just as those who preceded us did is very true. One of the reasons we enjoy living in this area is the thriving Jewish community and the strength of all the congregations, plus the various social service agencies. These institutions absolutely must survive, and we can all do our part to make sure that happens.
My Legacy Story — By Nedda Pollack
Jewish Family & Children’s Service Life & Legacy Donor
I was born in Brooklyn, raised in New Rochelle and spent a good part of my adult life in, Tennessee, where Larry and I raised our two children. I have been involved in not for profit organizations all of my adult life and have seen firsthand the difference even small bequests can make in the ability of such enterprises to accomplish their missions.
As the government becomes an increasingly unpredictable funder of programs that make all the difference to individuals and families that need assistance, whether that is medical care, education or basic life necessities, 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 do this both for the individuals and communities who benefit from the work of these organizations and for the satisfaction I take from the notion that my life will continue to make a difference to others even after my death. I also 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 this form of giving to others.
The Schaefers: Our family’s philanthropy is rooted in our Jewish values
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. Scott grew up in a divorced home with a single working mother and I, with two hard working parents. Our synagogue and Jewish Community Centers were main points of support in our lives and we both benefitted from their support in our youth. We have chosen to make Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer (Lawrenceville) and Beth Chaim Synagogue of West Windsor the focus of our Life & Legacy bequests. They are compassionate, effective and innovative organizations that meet a real need in the community and strengthen Jewish families and individuals. We have seen their work firsthand and believe that our gifts will be used for the benefit of those in need. These organizations have strong leadership and are good stewards of the funds they receive, which was important to us as we sought to leave a legacy and know that our gift would be used to help improve lives in our area and do our small part to make the world a better place.
Scott & Jeri Schaefer, Grant & Lyndsay Schaefer
The Schnur Family: What Tsedekah Means to Us
Fourteen years ago, my parents, Bernard and Ruth Schnur, established a donor-advised fund to be managed by their four adult children, acting jointly. For family spirit and cohesion, this was a brilliant move. Year by year, my three siblings and I, in discussing each year’s recommendations, have deepened our attachment to each other in discussing our most important individual values — not abstractly, but in a focused, committed way to make specific decisions about what is worthy giving.
This is an enactment and a transmission of family values, established by my parents, but also influenced by their parents, whose tsedekeh (charity) extended to their childhood. My father has memories of his mother going from neighbor to neighbor during the Depression, collecting dimes because someone with no money needed medicine.
These family values aren’t vague notions, but have a quite specific architecture. My father conceptualized his values as a series of concentric rings of duty and obligation. At the center was his spouse. In the next circle was himself, on the principle that without due care to oneself, one won’t be much use to anyone else. Next were his kids, then family, then the local Jewish community, then Israel. These rings of duty demand responsibility from you, but in return give you a moral orientation, a plan of action, meaning and purpose. In other words, a way to be a better Jew and a better person.
But how to put these concepts into action? 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, in the context of talking about what is really important.
To get this started, my parents organized a meeting of their four adult children to explain their motivation and purpose in establishing the fund. They then went further to insist on generating a Memorandum of Understanding, which we were all to sign.
Benefits were immediate, because in jointly developing this Memorandum of Understanding, my siblings and I had to communicate seriously, listen to each other, explore our own values and come to a consensus. Ordinarily, we communicate in a good-natured banter, so this was a new dimension and an enhancement to our family relationship.
What was in the Memo of Understanding?
First, we decided that we would have a focus or theme. We decided on two areas: Jewish causes and environmental causes.
Second, we decided that we would favor organizations in which we had personal involvement — sweat equity — not just choosing organizations on the basis of a brochure or newspaper article.
Third, as a major emphasis, we committed that this fund is never to replace our personal tsedekah.
Fourth, we affirmed that the purpose of the fund is tsedekah, not to establish a perpetual memorial, and to that purpose that we would distribute at a rate that would run the fund down to zero by our 70’s — for us, in 20 to 25 years.
In writing this, a metaphoric image comes to mind of a violinist playing a melody. In this visual metaphor:
The violin is our fund.
The bow is the values that determine what the music will be.
The music is the tsekekah and the good things that come of it.
The Schwartz Family: Giving is a Family Tradition
Each year our family gathers together to celebrate Hanukkah. We have three adult children and they in turn each have 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.
The family that makes the selection, grandchildren included, is expected to justify to the rest of us the reasons they have selected a particular cause or charity.
We feel this is a great way to connect with our children and grandchildren and to the community. Through this process, everyone learns something and it is a wonderful way for us to pass on our values.
Back Row: Andy Wiley-Schwartz, Kim Wiley-Schwartz, Barbara Schwartz, Joe Schwartz, Ben Harrison, Will Harrison, Gloria Schwartz, Jane Schwartz Harrison
The Schwartz Family
Sally Shakun: My Jewish Legacy
LEAVING A LASTING JEWISH LEGACY
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.
We all must play a part to ensure our culture and our rich heritage. It is our moral obligation to plant for those who come after us. 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.
I SUPPORT MY SYNAGOGUE AND MY COMMUNITY.
I chose to leave a legacy to Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor, NJ because it is a warm and welcoming community. Beth El Synagogue embraced us when we moved here – and I would like to provide that feeling of warmth and connection for those who come after me.
I also support the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer. I’d like to see the Foundation expand – because it does very good work and plays a vital role in our community.
I also deeply believe in the work of Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS). I want any and all gifts I make to be directed to where they are needed most. The mission of JFCS is profound and with more support – they could even do more – for more people desperately in need.
“A full belly makes a better citizen.” Poverty creates hazards. If people are not impoverished, they are not enslaved. Together, we can help those… but only if those who can… do!
LEARNING IS ALL AROUND US
As Jews, we have responsibilities. I have learned how vital tzedekah is from my father, and from my children and grandchildren.
I am fortunate to have a foster son and grandson in Israel and this connection sustains me. When I am in Israel, I marvel at the spirit of the people.
I believe in truth. The quote I think which best sums up my philosophy of life is from Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Fran Turim Zeitler: My Jewish Legacy
Fran Turim Zeitler believes in each of us discovering and living our own story. Fran’s story is one of being incredibly dedicated to the building of Jewish community . She is currently very active in the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, The Jewish Center, the Center for Jewish Life/ Hillel of Princeton University, the National Havurah Committee and Womanspace. Through her legacy gift to the Jewish Community Foundation and The Jewish Center, she is hoping to teach her children, grandchildren and others about the importance of supporting organizations that adhere to your values and to inspire others to find and live out their stories.
Fran’s family roots are in Poland, from where her great grandparents emigrated. Her parents met each other living on the same street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. They married and had three children. Fran lost her brother, Irwin, when he was two. Her sister, Linda, was born 13 years later. Fran does not remember celebrating many Jewish holidays except Passover. Fran’s mother, Ruth, is her hero. At the age of 40, she joined Fran at Brooklyn College and they both studied to become teachers. Ruth went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Education and became an assistant principal in the New York City School System.
Fran remembers when she moved to Princeton her mother telling her to join a synagogue, a political party and become active in charities, Jewish and secular. Fran has lived out these wishes of her mother in every way. She has been a member of The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer for 20 years and The Jewish Center for over 50 years. She currently serves on the Board of the Foundation. She is active in the local chapter of Zamru, which meets monthly at The Jewish Center.
Fran is very dedicated to Womanspace and has served on their Board for 25 years. In 2005, Fran donated funds to create a children’s library at Womanspace. It is named the Ruth Turim Children’s library, in honor of her mother.
In addition to these favorite organizations, Ms. Zeitler is or has been involved in other organizations over the years including Hadassah, Jewish Women International, Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University, the Woman’s Division of the Federation of Princeton, Mercer, Bucks, Chevra Kadisha and Havurah. For 27 years, she has participated in an annual Havurah retreat with her daughter and grandchildren.
In her career, Ms. Zeitler worked as a teacher at Slackwood School in Lawrenceville. Then, later, she worked in the business that she and her former husband founded, the Princeton Telephone Answering Service. She has two children, Kenneth and Barbara, and eight grandchildren.
When Fran first moved to Princeton in 1958, she was shocked that the Jewish community did not have an appropriate and adequate place to meet and bring Jewish people together. Fran became a member of The Jewish Center and got involved in the Hillel at Princeton University. She has been happy to see the university and the town become much more accommodating and welcoming to Jewish people over the years. She believes strongly that venues are needed to bring those of broad Jewish backgrounds together to celebrate being Jewish and to bring unaffiliated Jews together. Therefore, she appreciates the open policy of the Havurah movement and Zamru.
Fran Zeitler is proud of being Jewish and believes Jews are called upon to heal the world. She left a legacy gift through the Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY Program because she wants to continue to tell her story into the future for her children and grandchildren. Fran left a legacy gift because she would like to see continued support of Israel and know that an adequate social service infrastructure is available for Jewish and non-Jewish people. She encourages everyone to consider leaving a legacy gift and to tell their story.