When Al and Fran Sachs were selected to be this year’s Jewish National Fund Tree of Life honorees, they were very surprised. “I said to Seymour Rife (JNF Arizona board president), ‘You’ve got to be mistaken. We haven’t done that much,’ ” says Al. “He said, ‘We’re honoring you for your 33 years of philanthropy in the community.’ ” But contrary to Al’s sentiment, the Sachses have done a lot. Fran is a member of JNF’s Circle of Sapphire, and both are members of the JNF’s Century Society and Negev Society.
Continuing their tradition of philanthropy, the Sachses recently made the lead gift for the Halutza Medical Center, a new project that JNF is raising funds for through its Blueprint Negev campaign to sustainably develop the expansion of new communities in the Halutza region on Israel’s borders with Egypt and Gaza.
“The Jewish community is my passion, but Israel has a really special spot,” Fran says. “We took our first trip to Israel in 1985 and from then on, I was in love.”
According to Marc Kelman, JNF Arizona board member, national board member and assistant vice president, Blueprint Negev, the Tree of Life Award is given not only for support of JNF, but also for service to the Jewish community, Israel and the Jewish people. “It’s a humanitarian award,” Kelman says. “The Sachses have been stellar people in the community all the years that they’ve lived here. They have a great love for Israel and Jewish causes.”
Since moving from Indianapolis 33 years ago and retiring from owning a successful Weight Watchers franchise, the Sachs family have made their mark on the Valley Jewish community. Fran and Al are longtime members of Congregation Beth Israel and have been involved with “almost all Jewish organizations,” according to Fran. “I don’t know many that we’re not at least members of.” Fran served on the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix board and Al was treasurer for the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center board. The couple was honored with the Irv Shuman Award for Philanthropy by the JCC in 2012.
At Phoenix Jewish Free Loan, the couple established the Al and Fran Sachs Fund for Jewish Adoptions in 1998, in appreciation for the assistance they received from the Indianapolis Jewish Free Loan Society when they adopted their daughter Stacey. They received JNF’s presidential Award from the Phoenix Jewish Free Loan in 2008.
All four of the Sachses’ children live in the Valley and will be honored along with their parents: Nate (married to Dale); Stacey Arkules (married to David); Gary (married to Adele) and Lisa Sachs. The Sachses have 13 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and one on the way.
Who: Jewish National Fund
What: Tree of Life Gala honoring the Sachs family
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17
Where: Arizona Biltmore, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix
Cost: $300; $150 for clergy and ages 40 and under