By Kellie Smith
Jewish Federation of Jacksonville
While Federation’s Annual Campaign serves as a lifeline for immediate needs locally, in Israel and around the world — the Jewish Community Foundation was created in 1995 to secure the future of Jewish Community through planned giving and endowments. Under the visionary leadership and tireless efforts of Mike Donzinger, Mel Gottlieb, Elliott Horovitz and countless others, the work to ensure Jacksonville’s Jewish future began as a passion and transformed into over two decades of active, effective reality.
The Foundation grew substantially within the first few years of operation. Several Donor Advised funds were opened as well as two Endowment funds. In 1999, the Foundation began the B’nai Tzedek program, a vehicle through which they worked to inspire and teach the next generation of philanthropists. With over 300 B’nai Tzedek funds open currently, this noteworthy portion of the Foundation legacy is going strong.
The mid 2000’s saw continued growth for the Foundation, culminating in the creation of the Len & Judy Elikan Camp Scholarship Endowment Fund in 2010. Established with the intent to help youth with the potential to be the leaders of tomorrow, the Fund has succeeded in awarding 15 deserving teens the unforgettable experience of attending Jewish Summer Camps.
The possibility of a merger between the JCF and the JFJ was first explored in 2017 – a task force was formed and took on the work to investigate the feasibility of a merger, as well as best practices learned and borrowed from other Intermediate sized Federations in the U.S. By January 2018, the merger was completed between the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Jewish Community Foundation, thus creating the Endowment and Planned Giving Division of the Federation.
The focus and energy of this new Division is dedicated to cultivating and nurturing a stronger Jewish community and a brighter Jewish future. Over the last few months, Federation was able to reduce the fees and remove the necessity for dues to be paid by the local Jewish agencies and synagogues, all of whom are valued and historical partners of the Foundation. In addition to this, the creation of the Sol and Hilda Goldman Early Childhood Education and Summer Camp Endowment Fund brought the largest Endowment gift in the Foundation’s history, worth $4.7 million to benefit JCA early childhood education - an agreement signed nearly 20 years earlier.
The possibility of a sustained and vibrant Jewish future is now brighter than ever thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of those who worked to make this merger a success.
The Federation is both proud and humbled to take up the mantle of those who truly set an example in this community with their values and commitment to securing our Jewish future through the work of the Jewish Community Foundation.