Polly Sloan and her late husband, Sol, founded the Jewish Community Center in Laguna Beach in 1997 and “then saw that there were many organizations and ways to get involved in the Jewish community. Basil Luck came to Irvine 31 years ago from South Africa, where the founders of the Jewish community built everything. Finding a “tremendous void of Judaism,” he helped to build Beth Jacob Congregation and wants it to carry on. Miki Sholkoff is so pleased with the education her children and grandchildren received through the Bureau of Jewish Education that she believes “we have to ensure a Jewish legacy through education.”
According to Gideon Bernstein, president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, “We need to carry on the legacy of Moses and the Jewish people and pay it forward, weaving together the fabric of the community – the agencies, synagogues, day schools and families.”
“Whatever you can envision, we can envision to create a Jewish tomorrow,” said Wendy Chase Arenson, J.D., CSPG, director of legacy planning of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, as she welcomed more than 100 community supporters to the First Annual Community Endowment Book of Life Signing Event on November 6 at Tarbut V’Torah. Attendees had either committed or seriously considered committing to leaving a legacy for one of the foundation’s Create a Jewish Legacy (CJL) Partner organizations.
The Endowment Book of Life is a growing collection of signatures and histories, of both individuals and families, from more than 40 communities in North America. In Orange County the Endowment Book of Life is a symbol of united commitment to create a culture of legacy in Jewish Orange County.
At the signing event Marjory Kaplan, the senior professional of the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego, spoke about her personal journey towards creating her legacy gift and the success San Diego’s Jewish community has achieved with its legacy program. Bernstein spoke about the Orange County foundation’s journey towards the creation of a unified legacy program in Orange County.
“The night was topped off with an incredible dinner, engaging conversation and the knowledge that clergy, professional and lay leaders from our CJL Partner organizations all came together in the same room for the united purpose of creating Jewish legacies for our community,” Arenson said.
On October 1, the foundation launched the CJL program in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. CJL is a proven program that trains local Jewish agencies and synagogues to work together to build endowment funding for future generations. After a thorough application process, the Grinspoon Foundation selected ten local partner institutions into the first phase of this program.
The Jewish Community Foundation serves as the center point and mentor for the CJL program in Orange County and provides extensive training, marketing assistance and incentive grants to the partner organizations. Each partner has signed a Brit Kodesh (covenant) to invest all funds obtained through the program with the local foundation.
“We now have 75 signers of our Jewish Community Foundation Orange County Endowment Book of Life – and we’ve just begun,” Arenson said. “In real terms, that is 75 individuals who are committed to leaving an endowed gift to the Jewish Community of Orange County.
On the day before the signing event, there was a “Create a Jewish Legacy” training seminar for the partner organizations on the topic of how to talk to donors. Arlene Schiff from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation conducted a presentation for the group, and then individuals from the various organizations interacted in role play conversations, sharing ideas on creating endowed gifts for the local Jewish institutions.
“The CJL program benefits everyone who is involved,” Arenson said. “Our local Jewish institutions benefit through increased endowed giving and connection with their members. Donors benefit from being a part of a unified legacy program that sustains the organizations they care about most. And, the Foundation receives increased visibility and relevance as the unbiased central Jewish organization in Orange County.”
As stated by CSP Founder Arie Katz, “With the introduction of their new Create a Jewish Legacy program in our community, the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County is providing all of us a strong foundation upon which we can build the future of Jewish Orange County. We are honored to participate in this program and want to give a ‘shout out’ to the Foundation for its vision and achievement.”
Each year, the foundation will celebrate its community partners and those who have committed to leaving a legacy gift at our annual Endowment Book of Life signing ceremony. Current participants are: Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Community Scholar Program, Hebrew Academy, Heritage Pointe, Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County, the Jewish Community Center, Tarbut V’Torah, Temple Bat Yahm and Temple Beth El of South Orange County.
“There is no Jewish non-profit in our county doing more for the future of Orange County Jewry or which is better at bringing the community together for a common effort than the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County,” said David Lewis, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education Orange County. “Its leadership, guidance and support in establishing a community-wide effort to leave an enduring legacy will not only ensure the future of Jewish youth but will bring stability and energy to every segment of our population and the agencies that serve us.”
What is Create a Jewish Legacy?
• It is a capacity building partnership program offered by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (through Life & Legacy) that provides training, support and monetary incentives to move organizations to secure meaningful after-lifetime legacy gifts.
• This program creates a strong partnership between the Jewish Community Foundation and our local Jewish community agencies, synagogues and day schools.
• Through Create a Jewish Legacy, participating organizations will embark on a legacy building program benefiting the entire Jewish community.
What are the benefits of participating in Create a Jewish Legacy?
• A comprehensive educational curriculum with topics including speaking with donors, marketing, stewardship and best practices.
• Incentive grants.
• Marketing assistance.
• An annual Endowment Book of Life signing event hosted by the Foundation for your organization’s committed donors.
What are the basic requirements for applying for participation in the program?
• The ability to put together a legacy team made up of both senior professional(s) and lay leaders who will be responsible for:
• Securing after-lifetime gifts for their own institution;
• Attending 6 training sessions per year;
• Submitting excel-based reports in a timely manner on a quarterly basis;
• Meeting goals outlined in your legacy plan;
• Establishing board-approved written endowment policies and procedures; and
• Placing all bequests and other planned gifts received through this program at the Jewish Community Foundation in funds to be held for the benefit of your organization.
What are the obligations of the Jewish Community Foundation?
• Implement the program locally in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation with selected participating organizations.
• Offer an incentive grant of up $9,000 each year of the two-year program, payable upon the agency’s accomplishment of defined, measurable goals.
• Offer quality group training seminars.
• Assist each agency to develop a plan, implement action and track progress.
• Provide consulting and coaching services.
• Provide legacy marketing for the region and templates for individual agency’s public relations material.
• Recognize and thank all Create a Jewish Legacy donors, with donor approval, on behalf of the Orange County Jewish community.
• Host an annual Endowment Book of Life signing event to honor donors committed to endowing their gift.
How did the Community Foundation decide which organizations can participate in Create a Jewish Legacy?
• During a community meeting on May 29, 2013, the Jewish Community Foundation distributed application forms.
• A committee reviewed the applications and selected 10 local organizations for the first two-year phase of Create a Jewish Legacy.
• The selected organizations were notified of their acceptance into the program in July.
If ten organizations all begin seeking legacy gifts at the same time, won’t we be in competition with each other to reach donors first?
• The program is designed to eliminate competition between agencies, and is intended to result in the creation of after-lifetime gifts that benefit the entire Jewish community.
• Incentive grants are not based on who reaches a particular donor first; but rather, whether a particular donor commits to leaving an endowed gift for your organization.
• Donors are sophisticated, and they generally leave legacy gifts to the organizations closest to their heart, regardless of which organization speaks with them first.
• Most donors leave bequest gifts to more than one congregation or organization. By speaking with a significant number of individuals, we raise the total level of legacy giving in our community.
(Source: Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County website)