Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer

Fran Zeitler Etelman

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.