May 22, 2017

Local Synagogues, Organizations, Schools Celebrate $57+ Million in Legacy Gifts Received Over Just Two Years

More than 130 lay and professional leaders, rabbis and legacy donors from eleven South Palm Beach County Jewish agencies, schools, synagogues and Federation were feted at a warm, elegant evening event on May 9. Together, they celebrated their remarkable individual and collective successes as part of the local Create a Jewish Legacy (CJL) program with a reception, live music, a keynote speaker, photo and video booths, and awards in Zinman Hall on the Federation’s west Boca Raton campus. (organizations are listed below)

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As Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County President & CEO Matthew C. Levin announced, as of April 30, they have raised more than $57 million in 497 legacy commitments from 375 local donors over the past two years for their own and the entire Jewish community’s future.

"Every one of those commitments came from people who understand the importance of ensuring our future now," said Levin. "Thank you for leading our Jewish organizations to a place of firmer footing so they may continue to positively impact Jewish life now and for future generations."

Administered by the Federation’s Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation (JJCF), the local CJL is part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's LIFE & LEGACYTM initiative. For a second year in a row, according to the Grinspoon Foundation, the local CJL initiative has received the highest dollar amount in commitments among all of its LIFE & LEGACYTM participating communities.

"Create a Jewish Legacy has been extraordinarily successful over the past two years,” said Cathrine Fischer Schwartz, Senior Vice President of the JJCF. “It has created a culture of planned giving within our Jewish community in which an increasing number of people understand the value of planned giving to both their cherished organizations and their own financial goals. The program pays great dividends for all the organizations and brings us together to envision and sustain our community's future."

"The Grinspoon Foundation's Life & Legacy program provides our community with training, support and incentive grants of up to $10,000 to participating organizations,” continued Schwartz. “For many synagogues, schools and agencies, this has provided the ideal opportunity to launch a conversation about planned giving.”

"So many families here can now say that they are committed to making a difference in the lives of our Jewish people now and in the future, to ensure that our Federation, synagogues, agencies and schools continue to thrive," said Anne Jacobson in her welcome. Jacobson chairs the Federation Board and, with her husband Norman, Elyssa Kupferberg and Mark Schaum, co-chairs the local CJL.

Among the celebration’s attendees who have made and encouraged those commitments was Barry Podolsky. "My wife Susan and I established bequests or ‘after life giving’ at Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and Temple Beth El so we would continue to have impact on causes important to us,” said Podolsky, who is just completing his term as the temple’s president. “We want to be role models for our family, and establishing various bequests shows them the importance of giving.”

Janet Elinoff, a longtime supporter, leader and advocate for local special needs causes, also explained her commitment. “My son, Evan, has autism and now lives in a Jewish Association for Residential Care (JARC) group home,” she said. “Over time, I realized I was planning for two lifetimes and had to incorporate Evan’s life expectancy as well as mine. I created a legacy of love for the benefit of JARC. I actively encourage others to do the same.”

A local resident for many decades, Helen Cohan shared her long term perspective. “While we’re still not as established as some of the northern Jewish communities with large endowments, we have a golden opportunity here in South Palm Beach County,” she said. “We have far more resources than we had just a few decades ago. And we are blessed with energetic, highly motivated young leaders as well as seasoned, passionate older leaders who brought with them skills, life experiences and knowledge from many communities.”

“Our community has a great opportunity and a tremendous responsibility to make sure no one is shortchanged,” said Helen Cohan, whose philanthropic role models were her parents who survived the Holocaust. “That’s why my husband, Mark, and I have created a legacy to invest in our community and its children, to date through the Federation, Katz Hillel Day School, Boca Raton Synagogue, and the March of the Living. There will be more.”

In his keynote address, Rabbi Daniel Cohen, author of What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy, urged the audience to consider not only what others will say about them, but how they want to look back on their lives.

Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and Boca Magazine were the evening’s generous sponsors.

For more information about CJL, or for a confidential conversation about legacy giving, please contact Lottie Nilsen, Director of Foundation Community Development, at 561.852.3109 or

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  • Adolph and Rose Levis JCC
  • B'nai Torah Congregation
  • Boca Raton Synagogue
  • Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
  • Donna Klein Jewish Academy
  • Katz Hillel Day School of Boca Raton
  • Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida
  • Jewish Association for Residential Care
  • Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County
  • Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services
  • Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
  • Congregation B’nai Israel
  • Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach
  • Jewish Education Center of South Florida
  • Torah Academy of Boca Raton