2016-12-07 / Columns

There are many ways JCF can help you further Jewish continuity

MONEY MATTERS
AMY MILGRIM
Executive Director, Jewish Community Foundation

A question to ponder: What does Jewish continuity mean to you?

Your answer to this question may involve such components as carrying on holiday traditions, supporting the State of Israel, or something else altogether. It’s one of those open-ended questions where you could ask 10 different people and get 12 different answers!

With ongoing threats to the Jewish way of life locally and around the world, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work every day in doing my small part to safeguard Jewish continuity (however you choose to define it) right here in Southern New Jersey, as executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation, Inc.

I’m also fortunate to be surrounded by devoted Board members, donors, and volunteer committee members who share the same passion as I do in ensuring that Jewish life continues to flourish here in Southern New Jersey.

Exhibit A: Ed Rivkin.

Ed is a devoted JCF Board member, donor, and committee member who is a strong believer in supporting Jewish continuity, providing assistance to those in need in our community and worldwide, and doing so through organizations that maximize program delivery. Ed has become personally involved— as a donor and as a lay leader— with the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, the JCF, and other Jewish organizations to make sure that the local Jewish community stays strong both now and in the future.

As chairperson of JCF’s Scholarship Committee, as well as the DJE’s Scholarship Committee, Ed works with fellow volunteers to provide much-needed financial assistance to community scholars and emerging leaders. He also serves on the JCF’s Grants Committee, which awards grants for new and innovative programming, to give local charitable organizations the chance to try something different to engage our Jewish and secular community.

Recognizing that each of us has a different level of capacity to be involved in supporting Jewish continuity in SNJ and beyond, here are some ways you can help:

• There are countless opportunities where you may volunteer for Federation agencies and other local Jewish organizations. By doing so, you will be helping others in need, and, as research has shown, you will improve your own personal wellbeing. One example is volunteering for the JFCS/Chai Lifeline private Chanukah party for children with chronic and terminal illnesses on Dec. 18, which was funded in part by a JCF Community Grant (contact Andi Loew at aloew@jfedsnj.org to learn more).

• As Rabbi Mike Uram recently spoke about at a JCF event, you can simply meet and talk informally with friends and fellow community members to share concerns about living Jewishly, and develop a plan to address some of the issues that surface. For example, if you are concerned about declining synagogue engagement, talk with others about why they aren’t involved and figure out what synagogues may need to do to engage them.

• By establishing an endowment fund with the JCF, your gift to your beloved community organizations would be spun-off every year for decades into the future, thus truly enabling Jewish continuity.

• Similarly, by opening a donor advised fund (DAF) with the JCF, you could involve your family and discuss which organizations you would like to support.

There are many different directions you can take to ensure Jewish continuity. As you proceed with looking out for the Jewish future, remember the Talmudic proverb: “As my forefathers planted for me, so too I plant for my children.”

Thank you for taking your time, energy, and resources today to think about Jewish tomorrows. You are, indeed, planting for the future.

On behalf of the JCF Board and staff, happy Chanukah to you and your family, and, as you light the chanukiyah candles each night, I encourage you to reflect on the Jewish continuity that this special holiday celebrates.

 amilgrim@jfedsnj.org

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