May 23, 2017
Laurence “Larry” Blair is New Chair of Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation
For Larry Blair, the value of giving back was instilled at a young age, as he observed his parents’ involvement in their Federation in New York. Fast forward a few decades and he’s a leader at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, where he has just become chair of the Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation (JJCF) after chairing its Professional Advisory Committee (PAC).
“With total assets that have grown to nearly $85 million, our JJCF holds the future of our community,” Blair explained. “The efforts of our PAC have been instrumental in helping local donors fulfill their philanthropic desires and guarantee that their charitable passions are passed on to the next generation.”
“Our Foundation’s vision is a strong and vibrant Jewish community forever,” agreed Cathrine Schwartz, the Federations Senior Vice President of JJCF. “From throughout Jewish South Palm Beach County, JJCF ensures the continuity of Jewish life for our community and our people through endowment funds, bequests and other legacy gifts for our Federation, our agencies, our schools, our synagogues and more.”
“Our JJCF is actually critical today as well as in the future,” added Blair. “In the past year alone, JJCF has provided grants of nearly $4 million.”
A shareholder at Greenspoon Marder, and certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates Law, Blair is dedicated to planned giving and helps structure gifts to charities. Thanks to this longstanding commitment to personal and corporate philanthropy, he received the 2017 Irving Eckhardt Mitzvah Society Award.
Now numbering 76 members, the Mitzvah Society recognizes trust and estates attorneys, financial advisors and CPAs for successfully assisting clients with the identification and implementation of charitable planning as part of their financial, tax and estate plans.
“Larry is tremendously passionate about his work for JJCF and Federation,” said JJCF’s outgoing chair, Richard Steinberg, on handing the reins to Blair. “He works tirelessly to facilitate his clients’ philanthropic goals while securing a brighter Jewish future for generations to come.”
Blair has traveled on several Federation and PAC missions -- to Israel, Russia and Cuba – and values those opportunities to meet recipients and witness Federation dollars making a difference. “I’ll never forget visiting Moscow, where we played basketball with children in a Jewish summer camp, and this was their first connection to Judaism and Israel,” he recalled. “We are truly helping to build the future of the Jewish community, and I’m honored to be part of that.”
Blair also has a special relationship with seniors. “It’s easy to forget that there are people with no food, living below the poverty line, without any support net,” he says. “My heart always goes out to them. I just can’t say no to helping.”
He remembers his first time assisting an elderly lady with her estate plan. A single woman with no children, she feared she would die alone. Jewish Family Services came to her aid, organizing volunteers to visit and call to make sure she was okay. As part of her estate plan, she left a distribution to her local JFS so others could benefit from the programs that supported her when she had nobody to turn to.
Blair’s passion to help others is shared by Michele and their two children, Josh and Morgan. The couple also chairs Federation’s Emerging Jewish Philanthropists (EJP) cadre of younger major donors.
Blair is a recipient of the Federation’s James and Marjorie Baer Outstanding Young Leadership Award. He and Michele received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, where Blair served as chair for four years and helped create the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center and Jacobson Family Food Pantry.