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Four years after the Life & Legacy program launched in the Valley, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, along with 12 community partners, secured legacy commitments from the community with an estimated value of $31.4 million. The Foundation announced the amount at its annual Legacy Celebration on May 9. 

The Life & Legacy program is a national initiative that was launched in 2012 by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, a nonprofit based in Massachusetts. Its goal is to assist Jewish communities in integrating after-lifetime giving into their cultures. The gifts benefit Jewish entities such as day schools, synagogues and social service organizations. Life & Legacy has secured more than 22,000 legacy commitments and nearly $1 billion in future gifts. 

Since partnering with Life & Legacy in 2015, the Foundation has dedicated $700,000 to the program. The Harold Grinspoon Foundation matched that investment with an additional $500,000 for a combined $1.2 million to help secure future gifts. 

“In four years, $700,000 became something valued at more than $31 million. That is a return on our investment of more than 4,000 percent,” said Foundation President and CEO Richard Kasper at the Legacy Celebration. “We could not have achieved this kind of success without the hard work of our partner organizations and the vision and support of the Foundation’s fantastic board of directors.”

The 12 community partners are Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Congregation Or Tzion, the East Valley JCC, Hillel at ASU, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix/Valley of the Sun JCC, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Jewish Free Loan, the Minkoff Center for Jewish Genetics, Pardes Jewish Day School, Temple Chai, Temple Emanuel of Tempe and Temple Kol Ami. 

Together, the organizations secured more than 750 legacy commitment gifts. National Director of Life & Legacy Arlene Schiff congratulated the Foundation and its partners at the Legacy Celebration. 

“You are not alone in your desire to ensure that the impact your organizations have in this community continues to the next generation and beyond,” Schiff said. “Life & Legacy is currently partnering with 57 other communities to ensure that there are strong, vibrant communities across the country.”

Rachel Rabinovich, the Foundation’s Life & Legacy program director, helps community partners with their campaigns. 

“It’s a cultural shift in giving,” Rabinovich said. “We’re asking people who care enough to support an organization if they would consider a legacy gift.”

The Legacy Celebration also honored the 2019 Endowment Book of Life Signers, donors who fund either a current or future gift through the Foundation for the benefit of Jewish-sponsored agencies, organizations, synagogues or programs that have been important to them during their lives. Thirteen new names and seven new pages were added to the Endowment Book of Life.

At the end of the evening, Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, senior rabbinic scholar at Hillel International, took to the stage as the event’s featured speaker. She spoke about redefining success and how one can find a “soul” purpose. 

“I was really inspired by the Life & Legacy participants, and they are already active philanthropists and leaders in the community,” Hirsch said. “This was a moment to really inspire them and see what other ways they can not only give back, but continue to be both inspirational and aspirational for all of us, including myself.”

The Foundation plans to continue supporting their partner organizations with their Life & Legacy initiatives. 

“The commitments and actions of the people in this room have helped to ensure that this Valley of the Sun will have a living, breathing, dynamic and vibrant Jewish community for our children, for our grandchildren and for our great grandchildren,” said Life & Legacy team member  Barry Shapiro. “And that, my friends, is a powerful legacy.” JN

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