HomeApril 2012Endowing the Future

Endowing the Future

The conversation may not be comfortable, but it has to happen.  Somebody has to ask people what they are doing to leave a legacy for the Jewish community.  Otherwise, the money will go elsewhere.
Believing that it is a collective responsibility and that it will be transformational to the Jewish community to encourage people to leave a legacy, Rabbis David and Shuey Eliezrie, father and son and leaders of two local Chabad congregations, decided to bring about a paradigm shift in the way the subject of legacy giving is broached.  They want to share the concept with the entire Jewish community.
“We need to have an honest conversation between institutions and individuals about legacy giving,” Rabbi David Eliezrie of Chabad of North Orange County, explained.  “Most people want to have the conversation.  They care about Israel, Jewish institutions and people who are having a difficult time financially.  People have seen what good things the Jewish community has done for them, and they want to do that for others.  Now the Jewish community has to come to them and ask them what they’re leaving for the future.”
“People are uncomfortable asking for money, because they don’t want to come off as being greedy,” said Rabbi Shuey Eliezrie of Chabad of Tustin.  “Once they get over the initial boundary of asking, it works.”
The rabbis believe that “the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind” will be available to the next generation in southern California.  While only about 5 percent of the average person’s wealth is liquid, most people who own a house have a significant amount of equity.  Thus, there is a lot of affluence among people who are 60, 70 or 80.  Yet they may not realize it – or they may donate their assets elsewhere if representatives of other worthwhile causes are the ones doing the asking.
By naming a Jewish organization in one’s will, a person can provide significant benefit to that organization.  That person can also show his or her children the importance of tzedakah.  The legacy gift will have multilevel value, and the message will move from generation to generation.
Realizing that they needed help with the endeavor, the rabbis consulted attorneys Brad and Harry Barth to set up the legacy program and make people aware of the tax implications.  The next step for Chabad of Tustin was to send out postcards to congregants and supporters.  They took the idea to a convention of Chabad emissaries or shlichim.
“If the whole Jewish community embraces this concept, there will be enough for every Jewish organization,” Rabbi David Eliezrie concluded.


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