Memphis Jewish Seniors

By Emma Figarsky

Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have both received a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, which is the highest possible rating. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Federation and Foundation are currently two of twelve Four-Star charities in the Mid-South and remain among the highest rated nonprofits in the industry, with a score of 96.57 out of 100.

“Between our two organizations, we work with hundreds of donors and hundreds of charitable organizations. This ranking speaks volumes about the professionalism and dedication of our staff and leadership in making sure every dollar is making maximum impact,” said Irvin Skopp, Treasurer/Secretary of the Executive Committee of Jewish Community Partners, which operates both Federation and Foundation.

Charity Navigator rates charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance: financial health, and accountability and transparency. These ratings show donors how efficiently a charity uses their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time, and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent.

“For decades, the Federation and Foundation have provided ways for charitably minded members of the Memphis Jewish community to support the most critical needs of Jewish families as well as achieve their personal philanthropic goals,” said Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners. “Being recognized as a top-tier charitable organization is such an honor.  With all of the charitable choices donors have, this ranking helps to remind our supporters as well as the broader Memphis Jewish community that we are a trusted philanthropic partner.”  

This ranking signifies that both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in their area of work. They have been recognized for adhering to best practices while executing their mission in a financially efficient way. To learn how to make a gift to Federation’s Annual Community Campaign or open a fund at the Jewish Foundation, visit

Pictured above: Anthony Morrison, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair; Laura Linder, Jewish Community Partners President & CEO; Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation Chair; and Ken Steinberg, Jewish Community Partners Chair, at the 2019 Jewish Community Partners Annual Meeting, one of the last in-person events before the pandemic. The hard and careful work of staff and lay leaders, as well as the generous involvement of hundreds of donor families in Jewish Memphis, contributed to a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for Federation and Foundation.

Read more

In a strangely disconnected year, Dot Bilsky has relied on her long affiliation with the Memphis Jewish Federation Lions of Judah as a way to stay connected to the people and places she loves in Jewish Memphis.

“I became a Lion because my husband signed me up, and I am very grateful he did. With the support of Federation, Lion of Judah identifies needs and gives people like me a chance to do the most good with greater impact,” she said. “And now with the pandemic, the Lions are even more active because there’s more need. We respond to what’s out there. That’s what it means to be part of this sisterhood.”

A long-time Lion, Dot serves on the LOJ Tikkun Olam Committee, serves on Federation’s Senior Services Collaborative, is involved in her synagogue, and has even become something of a volunteer IT support professional for an expanding circle of friends and acquaintances during the quarantine. She has a habit of stepping in to help others meet needs and is grateful for the many opportunities provided to make a difference.

She offers the Lion’s recent Baby Shower initiative as an example of how she benefits from her connections. Led by the Tikkun Olam Committee, the Shower was launched to help Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center stock its brand-new Baby Pantry, designed to ensure families in the community have access to the essentials needed to care for babies and young children.

“The Baby Shower proves my point about what Federation does for me as a Lion. I didn’t know there were babies in our community needing help, nor could I have done anything about it without the support of Federation and the Lions,” she said. “We got the word out and took in an enormous amount of supplies for the Baby Pantry. That’s the Lions. They want to do things that help. And when you ask them, they go above and beyond.”

Dot had another first-hand glimpse of the connecting power of Federation as a peripheral player in this summer’s Tech Buddy initiative, designed to help seniors in the community stay connected through technology. 

“Part of my job at Memphis City Schools and later with Apple Computers was to help people use computers in the classroom,” she said. “I got involved helping people with their new Federation-provided iPads through the back door. I’m in a book club and two of the people couldn’t participate.  I made pictures of ipad screens and added arrows to show where to click and how to get to the home screen, the mail envelope, and how to read an email or join a Zoom meeting. Word got out and people asked me to help with different things. The initial training they got from the Tech Buddy was excellent, but I was able to help them do new things they wanted to learn.”

“Just yesterday I helped a friend of mine get online because she wanted to join a Beth Sholom seniors discussion group on Zoom,” she said. “We were going down the projects that Beth Sholom had planned and while she was scanning through the list, she said: ‘Oh my gosh, Baron Hirsch is making sandwiches- we always did that.’”

“I said ‘Yeah, but this year people are doing it from home.’ She said ‘I want to do it!’  So she helped Baron Hirsch make sandwiches.”

Ultimately, Dot’s connection to the community through the Lions is precious to her, and something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s through this sisterhood that she is able to satisfy her urge to help people in the community in a meaningful way.

“I’ve helped with things that I didn’t even know were problems before Federation directed us there,” she said.  “As Lions, we not only want to give money, we want to be involved.  That’s how a lot of the women feel.  The Federation identifies needs and organizes us to make a bigger impact.  I am most grateful for what Federation and the Lions do for me and others like myself.”

Read more

Momentum is swelling behind a group of young adults – some new to Memphis, others born and raised here – committed to Memphis Jewish Federation’s efforts to care for, connect, and engage Jewish people of all ages through a wide array of programs and services.

Formerly known as YAD (the Young Adult Division of Memphis Jewish Federation) FedLED emerged this year after a strategic rebranding process. Driven by young professional volunteer leaders from the Memphis Jewish community, FedLED’s work focuses on leadership, education, and fundraising. FedLED Co-Chairs Jaclyn Marshall and Martin Klazmer recruited a council whose members Emily Lennon, Jana Weiskopf, Daniel Snyder, and advisors Jason Goldstein and Aviva Freiden, are collaborating to craft opportunities to elevate young adult leadership to the next level.

After a series of popular and well attended FedLED virtual networking breakfasts for young professionals, the first open-to-the public program will be the FedLED Children’s Clothing Sale, to be held January 31 under the MJCC Pavilion. Donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes are already being accepted at the Jewish Community Partners offices, inside the MJCC.

“As someone who is a direct product of what this community has provided, I’ve naturally always had the desire to nourish and nurture the community myself,” said native Memphian Martin. “Now as an adult who has returned to Memphis with my own family, the timing is right and the opportunity is here with FedLED. Younger people in this community need to know that older generations are looking to us to step up and be involved in whatever capacity we are able and FedLED will serve as a stepping stone for those who are. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this organization.”

Unlike Martin, Jaclyn is a newer Memphian, and had not been involved in Jewish communal activities in California. “There was not much sense of community living in San Francisco,” she said. “In Memphis, I met moms with small kids through my own children, and now we see each other all the time.”

From these first feelings of belonging to a cohesive Jewish community, Jaclyn eventually made her way to Federation. Her first in-depth conversation with a Federation staff member opened her eyes to the organization’s tireless efforts in Jewish Memphis. “It was mind blowing,” she said. “I not only wanted to give money but wanted to give more of my time.”

She was asked to serve as a co-moderator for a Federation Women’s Philanthropy program, interviewing Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, founder of OPI Nail Lacquer, in the MJCC’s Belz Social Hall. The well-attended event sparked a new interest in Federation activities throughout the community for Jaclyn, leading her to FedLED.

“Our goal is to hold a series of fundraising events – big and small – that get people excited,” said Jaclyn. “By creating exciting events, like wine and whisky tastings, we’ll offer fun ways for people to give back while learning about Federation. It’s important to introduce our generation to the Federation model of community support through donations, and help cultivate a culture of long-term donors for decades to come.”

Having had successful experiences with clothing sales back in California, Jaclyn thought a similar initiative would be a good fit for a key FedLED demographic- Jewish parents. In addition to offering something they need, the event would also be an excellent platform to introduce FedLED to potential members.

FedLED’s Children’s Clothing Sale will be held Sunday, January 31, 1:00 to 4:00 P.M., under the MJCC Pavilion. Federation is accepting donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Jewish Community Partners office, located at 6560 Poplar Ave, inside the MJCC. Donated items will be sorted and sold at the socially distanced clothing sale at the end of the month. Proceeds from the clothing sale will go towards Federation’s Home-Delivered Meals Program for isolated seniors. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced.

FedLED is also looking for volunteers to help sort clothing ahead of the sale and to staff the sale itself. Tasks include sorting donated goods into different categories, setting up stations at the sale, and helping with touch-free payment transactions. To volunteer, email or call Sophie Bloch, Director of Young Adult Leadership, or 901-452-2453.

Read more

This Wednesday, we joined two online sessions with Memphis Jewish seniors, both supported by donor gifts made to Memphis Jewish Federation. First, we enjoyed the friendly conversation during the 12:00 P.M. daily Senior Lunch Bunch, followed by an interactive session with Jason Caplan’s Universal Language Room, which teaches non-verbal communication and togetherness through improvisational music.

There wasn’t much lunch being eaten at a recent Senior Lunch Bunch Zoom get-together, hosted by Steve Kaplan, Adult Services Coordinator at the MJCC. Instead, the dozen faces smiling from small digital boxes on our computer screen chatted about their grandkids, their tomato plants, the French Impressionist movement, and social distancing while running errands.

“Hi, everyone,” said Annabelle Kaplan, waving to us as she joined the Zoom session. “I didn’t think I’d get home in time to join. I had to take something I ordered online back to the store, so I called and they said, yes I could bring it to the store. When I got there I waited six feet apart in the line, and they said I had to get a mailing label and mail it in myself, all these extra steps. And pay postage both ways!”

The commiserating groans of understanding were like warm hugs across the digital divide.

The group, which varies in participants from day to day but consistently draws between 6 and 15 Memphis Jewish seniors, has been meeting online since March, when the MJCC closed to the public in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long weeks since, the Lunch Bunch has adapted to the digital platform, and now the sessions have a comfy, familiar feel, with casual conversations and friendly gossiping that builds from day to day.

“I really enjoy this, and they do, too,” said Steve Kaplan. “It’s a nice group of people and I can tell it means a lot to them. Particularly in the first weeks, when it was almost like after 9/11 and people were so uncertain about what would happen in the days ahead. The Lunch Bunch almost became a daily group therapy session.”

An hour later, we logged into Jason Caplan’s Universal Language Room session, where we found him waiting for us, tuning his white Fender Stratocaster.

This was a smaller session than the first, but Lunch Bunch regulars Dolly Mahante and Susan Meyers were there with their Boomwhackers, a hollow percussion instrument designed to play a note and rhythm with a whack against the palm of the hand. Universal Language Room provides these and other instruments to seniors.

Watch a recording of the interactive music session here. If you have an instrument, play along!

“We’ve had sessions with this group since September, back when we could gather in person with sessions every other week. We’ve been online since March,” said Jason. “With Steve’s group, everyone started with Boomwhackers and now we’ve moved on to melodic instruments.”

The program is not only about training people in music. Universal Language Room trains people to trust a non-verbal language that can develop through a musical rapport, empowering participants to spend time in the meditative state that Jason says typically happens at about minute ten.

“When we stay outside of language, it’s so exciting. We all live together in the moment with music as our dialogue,” he said. “There are two ways non-verbal togetherness affects a person. First is peace in the mind, so that our minds that run about all day thinking about this problem, and that happened in the past, and what happens in the future, get locked in the moment and the constantly changing music and you live in the moment.”

“The second is that I feel our society is moving to a place where you can’t have dialogue about things people disagree with. I want people to feel the joy of dialogue without disagreement,” Jason said. “But if you learn to do this with music first, maybe you can get to a place where you can say, ‘you know, I really like talking to you. We may disagree on important issues and agree on others, but I like talking to you.’”

“We need more of that right now,” he said.

“We’re all hoping we’ll be able to get together in person soon, and we’re all praying for that day,” Jason said as he signed off from the session. The budding musicians smiled and waved, and agreed.

If you’re a Jewish Memphis senior and would like to be part of the daily lunches or future Universal Language Room sessions, or know someone who does, email Steve Kaplan at You can also contact Steve if you need a mask. 

Read more

Every Tuesday, we’ll share a story that spotlights the work of the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center with News From the Heart. Browse these stories here.

July 29- Shalom Shuttle: Always at Your Service

April 28- (Above) Debra and Alex Saharovoch Commit to Community

February 5- Cindy and Mark Finestone Continue Generation Philanthropic Traditions

December 17- Hallie, z”l, and Jay Cohen’s Gift to Support the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service

November 19- (Above) Baby Pantry Launches with Help from Federation’s Lions

November 5- Judy & Larry Moss: Supporting FJFS Means Giving Back to Community

October 15- Susan Nieman: How Fogelman Jewish Family Service Shaped My Life

October 1- Shabbat Sholom Program Offers Seniors A High Holiday Treat

September 11- (Above) Donors Like Lisa Menuskin and Neil Gibson Help FJFS Meet Needs in Jewish Memphis

August 26- FJFS Collaborates with Community to Help Parents Navigate Return to School

August 20- Clients Benefit from Strong Relationships with Staff

August 13- Donors Keep Kosher Food Pantry Stocked During Pandemic

July 28- We’re Here for You: A Message from Director of Social Services Mary Elizabeth Jones

July 22- Volunteer Callers Connect isolated Seniors to Community

July 14- (Above) A Healthy Bounty for Hungry Seniors

July 7- A Friendly Voice and Open Years

July 1- Education is Key

June 25- Working Together to Serve the Most Vulnerable

June 16- (Above) Special Needs Support Amid Pandemic

June 9- In Times of Financial Emergency, FJFS is Here for You

June 2- Shalom Shuttle Returns to Normal Schedule

May 27- (Above) Volunteers Adapt During Pandemic

May 19- Mindful of Mental Wellness

May 12- FJFS Staff Continues to Connect with Memphis Jewish Seniors Despite COVID-19 Barriers

May 5- (Above) School Counselor Offers Comforting Advice for Students and Parents During Covid-19 Crisis

April 28- Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service Continues to Keep our Community Safe and Connected

Read more

Launched in late 2017 under the leadership of Memphis Jewish Federation (MJF)’s Senior Services Collaborative (SSC), the Senior Services Directory quickly become a reliable resource for seniors and their caregivers in the Memphis Jewish Community. Packed with information about services, activities, and programming provided to area seniors and the important people in their lives, the initial run of the 8-panel brochure was instantly popular.

Fast forward about two years and the SSC’s supply of 3,000 copies of the brochure had been been depleted. Partner agencies distributing the brochure reached out to MJF requesting more copies of this invaluable central source of information about the robust senior programming available throughout the Memphis Jewish community. To continue meeting this need, Memphis Jewish Federation has recently updated and reprinted the brochure, which now more accurately reflects the landscape of senior services and program offerings at senior-serving agencies and local congregations.

A large-print, glossy quad-fold brochure with a comprehensive listing of senior services provided by the Memphis Jewish community, the Senior Services Directory is broken down into categories such as Vital Needs, Companionship, Transportation, and Wellness. The SSC also made this information available in digital form at, which is updated as needed. Many local seniors and their caregivers have likely received brochures mailed directly to homes, but copies are also available at local congregations and agencies serving Jewish seniors, and at senior independent living and assisted living facilities, geriatric medical offices, and hospitals.

The update and reprint was funded in part by a B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy grant and by two donors giving anonymously through Jewish Foundation of Memphis’s Needs List, a popular resource for donors looking to make a meaningful impact on philanthropic causes important to them. The office of Jewish Community Partners, the agency that operates both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis, also has copies of the brochure for distribution. Visit JCP at 6560 Poplar Avenue, inside the Memphis Jewish Community Center. We can also mail one to you. Send an email with your name and address and we’ll send a copy your way.

The Senior Services Directory is a model case-study of a successful collaboration. Our agencies and congregations submitted information about their respective senior services and SSC members made valuable editorial suggestions and recommendations,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, JCP’s Chief Strategy Officer. “It is these kinds of collaborations that move the needle in a community.” 

The SSC was formed in November 2015 in the wake of Memphis Jewish Federation’s 2014-2015 Community Needs Assessment Study, which identified the challenge of delivering accessible and meaningful programming to seniors. The committee is comprised of representatives from all agencies interfacing with Jewish seniors, congregations, retired Jewish senior professionals, and community volunteers passionate about senior services. Since its inception, the SSC has made significant progress not only in expanding the menu of programs and services available to seniors, but also in ensuring that seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are aware of the programming that exists.

Read more

By Audrey May

Intake, Referral & Volunteer CoordinatorWendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center

Seniors and their caregivers can find it challenging to navigate through change. Someone has a serious illness. Someone stops driving. Someone has a fall and breaks a bone. A friend or family member who was providing support is no longer available. Suddenly, there’s a crisis.

In these moments, it’s important to know that getting the help you need is easy. The Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service (FJFS) at the Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC) is here to help. With one call, we will get you connected to a service provided by us, by the MJCC, other community organizations, or the best service provider for your needs.

I work with an awesome group of other people here at FJFS, and we’re always willing to help in whatever way we can. We’re not only knowledgeable and helpful, but we’re also completely confidential.

With one call to our main number, 901-767-8511, FJFS staff will respond quickly to assess your needs and respond to your questions.  I give clients all the time that they need to tell me their story. We have a conversation and I listen to what’s going on and what their concerns are. Next, I’ll ask a few questions to determine if a person would be eligible for one of our programs, or something else. This confidential conversation is all about making sure we connect each client to the best services for their needs. We only want the client to share as much as they feel comfortable discussing in order to get the right services for their needs.

For example, if it’s clear that our Shalom Shuttle would be perfect for them, I’ll tell them a little about that. I can do an intake over the phone, right then, if they’d like to enroll. If there are other services that we provide I can often do an immediate referral. Perhaps you or a Jewish senior you know could benefit from kosher home-delivered meals, or help from an expert, supportive case manager to more easily navigate life’s challenges. Or perhaps you want to volunteer in a meaningful way. Just give us a call to explore the options.

Sometimes we need to do a little bit of research. Give us a day or so and we’ll get back to you. If a client is in need of a service FJFS doesn’t provide, we are connected to many established government and non-profit organizations. If someone needs in-home caregivers or elder law attorneys, for example, we offer options to empower our clients to make the right choice for them and their family.

It’s about matching a client to a provider that will meet their needs, but also their lifestyle, income, and cultural point of view. It’s sort of a matchmaker service. I don’t recommend to you the best doctor who specializes in what you need. I offer you choices so you can make an informed choice about what’s best for you.

People often call looking for counseling, and we have really terrific counselors on staff at FJFS. We’re able to see clients on a self-pay, sliding scale basis. We’re a good option for people who are looking for counseling in a place that is culturally sensitive to the Jewish community. The first session is always free because we want the community member to determine whether it’s a good match. Counseling is a very personal thing. But because we don’t accept insurance, we have other resources to check into that will lead to other suggestions for counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professionals who work with different issues and can accept your insurance or Medicare.

FJFS matters because all of us need help sometimes. Even the people who are the most giving, the most busy, the most engaged in the community- and that describes a lot of people in the Jewish community in Memphis- all of us need help sometimes. Or perhaps a friend needs help that’s outside of your areas of expertise. What better place to look for that help than an agency that’s at the hub of the Jewish community?

That’s why we’re here. Our goal is to help the community remain as vital, engaged, and healthy as it can be.

To get information about available programs and services, call the Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the MJCC at 901-767-8511.

As an integral part of the Jewish community, the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service (FJFS) at the Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC) provides an array of compassionate social services and a connection to any additional services needed. FJFS forms collaborative relationships with clients to enhance your well-being and help you thrive, offering classes and support groups, counseling, emergency assistance, a Kosher Food Pantry, a resource center, senior adult care, support for Holocaust survivors, transportation, special needs services, volunteer opportunities and more. Learn more here.  

Your gift to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign supports FJFS with vital funds. Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis can also work with you and your family to financially support FJFS in other ways. Call 901-767-7100 to learn more.

A Memphis native and social worker, Audrey is a senior herself and passionate about helping seniors get the information and services they need, as well as working with our wonderful volunteers to do meaningful work in the Jewish community.  She is a book nerd who spent eight years running a bookstore and nineteen years as a manager at the Memphis Public Library’s LINC/2-1-1 social service information service.  She is also involved with the local AARP Livable Community initiative seeking to improve life for seniors in Shelby County and is the Interim Chair of the Senior Services Committee at OUTMemphis working with LGBTQ seniors. When she’s not in Memphis, she is probably in Florida happily reading with her nine-year old granddaughter.

Read more

Memphis Jewish Federation (MJF) was awarded with a generous grant from the Butler Snow Foundation to benefit vulnerable Memphis-area seniors.

“We are thrilled and thankful to have been awarded this grant to address the dignity and wellness of seniors who receive services through two of our partner agencies – the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center and Plough Towers,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, chief strategy officer of Jewish Community Partners (the umbrella organization of Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis).

“As the central planning and fundraising arm of the Memphis Jewish community, MJF is uniquely poised to assess the needs of the entire community, and is committed to ensuring the basic needs of the most vulnerable among us are met in a dignified, sensitive, and efficient fashion,” she explained. When our agencies reach out to MJF with their needs, we keep our eyes and ears open for solutions.”

Microwave ovens were a priority for both Plough Towers, a HUD-independent living facility, whose seniors often depend on microwaves for cooking their daily meals, and to the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service, which administers the Frozen Home-Delivered Meals Program for homebound seniors.

“Plough Towers does not provide microwaves for its residents and some residents cannot afford to replace their 20-year-old large or reduced-capacity microwaves,” explained Leigh Hendry, executive director of Plough Towers. “And although the apartments are equipped with full kitchens, in practice, most people prepare their meals in microwaves since it is easier for them given their age.”

Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Jones had also expressed concerns about the need for microwaves among seniors receiving the frozen home-delivered meals. “These seniors lack functioning microwaves needed to heat the meals they receive,” she said. “The availability of microwaves will lead to additional food-insecure seniors enrolling and maintaining their enrollment in the Frozen Home-Delivered Meals Program.”

In addition to microwaves, the freezer that the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service uses to store the meals before being delivered to home-bound seniors suffers from extensive wear and tear, and requires manual defrosting by staff.

Plough Towers also houses a computer center that is used on a daily basis by many of the building’s residents. “The computer center at Plough Towers provides a digital literacy program that enhances self-worth and dignity and encourages our resident’s full use of skills, intelligence and experience,” said Hendry. “In 2019, the program, staffed by a part-time computer instructor, drew 67 residents from our 163-resident population. Our six IMac computers are 10 years old and in desperate need of replacement.”

The $14, 651 Butler Snow Foundation awarded to Memphis Jewish Federation will cover the cost to purchase 30 microwaves for Plough Towers’ residents and recipients of the Frozen Home-Delivered Meals Program, six computers at Plough Towers and replace the freezer at the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service.

“We are excited about offering residents these microwaves, which will make their daily lives so much easier,” said Hendry. “And the computers are a blessing to those who use them to stimulate their mental wellbeing, communicate with loved ones, and to interact with others, including our computer instructor who is there to assist them in whatever ways he is able.”

Jones was equally appreciative of the actions taken by Memphis Jewish Federation on behalf of the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service.

Butler Snow Foundation President and Butler Snow Attorney Thomas E. Williams stated in the award letter. “Yours was among a number of applicants we considered from organizations serving true “people needs in the communities in which the members of our Foundation live and work. We applaud you for the good work you do and for your significant accomplishments.”

The Butler Snow Foundation was established in 1997 by a generous gift from a client of the law firm of the same name. The Foundation funds worthy causes or social services organizations in communities Butler Snow serves.

Read more

Creating a sound legacy plan, one that reflects your hopes and dreams, takes careful planning, and good advisors.  That’s why in 1999 Bernard Garfinkel, of blessed memory, turned to the Jewish Foundation of Memphis and Executive Director Paula Jacobson to help guide him and his wife June through the process of creating a meaningful charitable legacy; one that would benefit the organizations most important to them. 

That careful planning more than 20 years ago has resulted in significant charitable gifts to three of Memphis’ Jewish organizations: Memphis Jewish Federation, Temple Israel and Memphis Jewish Home and Rehab.

 “These are such meaningful gifts from a very dear couple,” said Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners, which operates the Jewish Foundation of Memphis and Memphis Jewish Federation. “Their generosity will make a lasting impact on our community.”

According to Mrs. Linder, more than $5 million has been distributed to five charitable organizations with close to 90% directed to the Jewish community. Memphis Jewish Federation and Temple Israel received the majority, splitting more than 80% between them. The remainder was divided between Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab, Church Health Center, and Metropolitan Interfaith Association (MIFA).

Bernard passed away in 2007; June in July of 2019. 

“Once we understand a donor’s wishes and ambitions, we are able to assemble the right resources to make their gift a reality,” said Mrs. Linder.  She went on to describe one of the most important resources, the Foundation’s Professional Advisory Group (PAG). “Our network of more than 100 professional advisors includes estate attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors, and life insurance professionals. All donors we work with can benefit from the diverse and unique services we offer.” 

 “We have gift records from Bernard Garfinkel dating back to the 1950’s,” stated Cindy Finestone, Chair of Memphis Jewish Federation, one of the major beneficiaries of the Garfinkels’ estate. “Nearly 70 years of supporting the Jewish community, and now their legacy will live on in perpetuity.”

“Bernard and June were married at Temple in 1965 and found their spiritual home at our synagogue where they attended Shabbat services weekly,” said Temple Israel’s Rabbi Micah Greenstein. “When I arrived as Assistant Rabbi in 1991, ‘Buddy’ had just celebrated his 70th birthday and we became fast friends. June was the love of his life, and they rest together in the Temple Israel cemetery close to our Veterans Memorial, which is so fitting since this little Jewish man from Boyle, Mississippi, was an exemplar of The Greatest Generation, having served in the U.S. Navy for four years during WWII. He will always remain an inspiration to me.”

“This very generous gift from the Garfinkels is a testament to their dedication to the Home and seniors of our community,” said Joel Ashner, Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab. “It was so thoughtful of them to remember our residents and to want to help provide for their needs.” 

For 25 years, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis has been a trusted partner in charitable giving, helping families and individuals shape their philanthropic visions and providing channels for giving that reaches into communities and changes lives of the better. For the Garfinkels, the Jewish Foundation helped them make a lasting impact to organizations that were meaningful to them.

Read more

Twenty-five years ago, the Memphis Jewish community came together to create an organization that would work to ensure that our children and grandchildren would benefit from a thriving Jewish community. This invaluable resource evolved quickly into Jewish Memphis’s trusted partner in charitable giving, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis. The Jewish Foundation kicked off its year-long 25th Anniversary celebration Tuesday, December 10, with Latkes & Vodka, an event at Dixon Gallery and Gardens honoring the Jewish Foundation’s fund holders, professional advisors, and donors.

While the signature cocktails’ names were clever – who could turn down a Legacy Libation or an EndowMint- the collective impact of Jewish Foundation donors over the past quarter-century is serious business. Since coming to life under the leadership of its first executive director Paula Jacobson and first board president Ronald Harkavy, the Foundation has worked to transform the philanthropic culture of the Memphis Jewish community to include legacy giving.

Launched in 1995 to help secure permanent financial solutions for ten partner agencies in the Memphis community- Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth, Baron Hirsch Congregation, Beth Sholom, Temple Israel, Margolin Hebrew Academy/Finestone Yeshiva of the South, Bornblum Jewish Community School, Memphis Jewish Federation, Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab, Memphis Jewish Community Center, and Jewish Family Service.

Check out the Facebook album for more photos.

Jewish Foundation Board Chair Anthony Morrison welcomed the crowd as the Latkes & Vodka program kicked off, recognizing members of the Professional Advisory Group (PAG) and its steering committee members John May, Morrow Baily, Mark Kaplan, Scott Bendure, and Shelby Peranich, and its chairman, Jason Salomon.

 “We recognize the critical role a donor’s attorney, accountant, and financial advisor play when they are considering a charitable gift,” said Anthony. “The PAG has given us a way to involve more than a hundred such advisors.” Each year the Foundation provides education programs and networking opportunities for the PAG members and serves as a philanthropic resource for the advisors and their clients. 

Many Professional Advisors were on hand to celebrate the anniversary, as well as get a first look at the new Jewish Foundation of Memphis PAG Directory.

“I’m a new member of the Professional Advisory Group and was excited to see what the Professional Advisor directory would look like,” said Lee Olswanger, Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “It turned out great, and I can’t wait to have extra copies in my office.”

Laura Linder, President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners, the managing organization that operates the Jewish Foundation, spoke briefly, celebrating the quarter century of community-focused philanthropy that led to the Jewish Foundation growing into the engine that drives Jewish Memphis. In her remarks, Laura highlighted the important achievements driven by Foundation’s work in its first 25 years, including Foundation’s Legacy initiative, B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy program, and the hundreds of donors who have partnered with the Foundation to achieve their charitable goals.

“Today, staff and volunteer leadership continue their work to keep endowment and legacy giving at the heart of our thriving Memphis Jewish community,” said Laura. “Through these efforts, to date more than 500 legacy commitments have been made. This work will continue as we continue to build for future generations under the leadership of Foundation’s powerhouse team of Sheri Gadberry and Sarah VanderWalde.”

“For 25 years, the Foundation has worked with donors to meet them exactly where they want to be as philanthropists,” Sheri Gadberry, director of operations for Jewish Community Partners said after the event. “We’re trusted by Jewish Memphis’s philanthropic community because our work is donor-centric, which means we strive to be as adaptable as possible, working with donors to help them achieve lifetime philanthropic goals.”

According to Sheri, through its work with more than 500 fund holders, the Jewish Foundation serves as the “go to” organization in the Memphis Jewish community for charitably minded families. “With $93 million in assets and cumulative grants awarded topping $80 million, we have established ourselves as a major player in the Memphis philanthropic community.”

Mimi Grossman closed the program by speaking about her own personal experience with legacy giving, citing her recent bout with cancer.   

“Many of you may not recognize me if you haven’t seen me in a while. This is what post chemo hair looks like.” After the sympathetic laughter died down, she continued. “I’m grateful that my cancer was treatable and I am now cancer free and living every day to its fullest. But as I went through treatment, I found myself reflecting on questions like: What kind of legacy would I be leaving? What have I done to truly make a difference, not just to my children and grandchildren, but to my beloved community?”

As the programmed portion came to a close, two powerful symbols served as visual reminders of what it means to leave a legacy. During the program, guests were surrounded by the stunning pewter collection of Justin and Herta Adler, of blessed memory, two devoted Memphis Jewish philanthropists whose descendants hold funds at the Jewish Foundation. And finally, to close the evening, Josh Lipman spoke about the philanthropic legacy of his father, Ira A. Lipman, of blessed memory, before leading the crowd through a tour of the temporary exhibit Friedel Dzubas: The Ira A. Lipman Family Collection. Touring the artworks after the program, it was impossible not to ponder what we will leave behind. Jewish Foundation of Memphis is there to answer that question for anyone.  

Read more