Memphis philanthropy

Pictured are Memphis Jewish Federation Annual Community Campaign donors Jami and Adam Lazarov, along with their two children, Sonia and Audrey. Photo by Jen Howell.

“Jewish Memphis is a safe haven and a strong community that my children will always be able to turn to,” said Adam Lazarov. “Supporting it and making sure our institutions stay strong is important to me. When I donate to Memphis Jewish Federation, I know that it will go to agencies that support the Jewish community. It’s pretty similar to spreading out donations on my own, it’s just a more efficient way to do it.”

Fourth-generation Memphian Adam Lazarov grew up attending Jewish day school at Bornblum Jewish Community School (then known as Bornblum Solomon Schechter School), attended Sunday school at Temple Israel where he became Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed, and actively participated in BBYO.

“Philanthropy was always something that my parents valued when I was growing up, and I remember they were always very involved in the community,” said Adam of his parents, Debbie B. and Ron Lazarov, both active Jewish community leaders and philanthropists. A Memphis Jewish Federation Lion of Judah, Debbie is currently serving as Lions Co-Chair, is on the Federation Board of Directors, and is a member of the Lemsky Endowment Fund Committee. Ron serves on the Jewish Foundation of Memphis Board, is a member of Foundation’s Professional Advisory Group, and his wealth management firm, Kelman-Lazarov, Inc., also supports Federation and Foundation as a corporate partner.

“My dad is a past president of Bornblum. Even though he was incredibly busy with his business and other ventures and devoting lots of time, resources, and attention to those matters, his and my mom’s example taught me that giving back is always something that is really important for us to make time for,” said Adam.

After undergrad at University of Texas followed by Harvard Law School, Adam returned to Memphis in 2014 and now is an attorney for Indigo Agriculture.

“I like that it’s a mission-driven company, and everyone works really hard to bring profitability to farmers and throughout the agricultural supply chain while at the same time doing it in a manner that is proactively better for the environment,” said Adam.

Together, Adam and his wife Jami, who is the General Counsel for LifeLinc Corporation, have two children, ages 5 and 3 years old, and are expecting their third in a few months. Since becoming parents, the couple has developed an even deeper understanding of the many ways the Memphis Jewish community connects to and shapes Jewish life in our city.

“Memphis is a really fantastic place for Jewish families because it is a sizable Jewish community, but not overly-sizable,” said Adam. “You can take on leadership roles, be heavily involved, and make a real impact. I’m on the Bornblum Executive Committee because I love their mission of accepting any Jewish child in the community, regardless of whether the family is able to pay, and I think it’s amazing that Federation helps make that possible. Any Jewish family that wants to come to Memphis and connect their kids to a good Jewish education and a solid Jewish community to grow up in, Memphis offers that. That’s unique to Memphis and a big reason why I choose to support this community through Federation.”

“In a way, my philanthropy is a reflection of understanding how fortunate my family and I have been throughout our lives, and so it does feel that there is a need to give back and make sure that we reflect on that on a consistent basis,” said Adam.

Family is clearly a big influence on Adam, and when asked, he stated that his biggest inspiration in regards to philanthropy is his grandfather, Sidney Lazarov.

“My grandfather was somebody who impacted me in a number of ways,” said Adam. “He was very generous and was a resource for people that needed a lawyer and couldn’t afford one, particularly in the Jewish community.”

“I think that Judaism placing such strong value on helping others was probably a subconscious influence on me,” said Adam. “If I’m donating time or money to an organization, I’m not doing it to be a good Jew, per se, but I do think there are years and years of different lessons and values I’ve internalized, and being involved in the Memphis Jewish community has profoundly influenced me.”

To Adam Lazarov, philanthropy is about an individual doing their part as one piece in a much bigger puzzle and working together to create impact for the benefit of our entire community. In Federation, he’s found the perfect partner.

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Pictured: Jewish Foundation of Memphis fundholders attend a training on the new donor portal, facilitated by Sarah VanderWalde, at the beginning of August. The new portal was launched as part of the Foundation’s strategic plan to improve its back-end accounting software.

The Jewish Foundation of Memphis (JFOM) marked 25 years by announcing a record achievement of more than $100 million under management. In making the announcement, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair Anthony Morrison acknowledged the confidence local community donors and organizations have shown in the services provided by the Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe we have been in business for a quarter century,” said Morrison. “I am so proud to be part of an organization that partners with hundreds of local Jewish philanthropists to make a real difference in our community.”

Over the course of 25 years, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis has established itself as a valued philanthropic resource for charitable families. By offering donor advised funds, designated endowments, and developing expertise in non-cash gifts including stock, real estate, and collectibles, the Jewish Foundation has become the go-to charity for families wanting to make a significant impact.

And, over the past year, with COVID impacting all of our Jewish agencies, synagogues, schools, and families, having resources to grant became even more critical. 

“Grant-making was at an all-time high over the past 16 months,” said Laura Linder President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners (JCP), the organization that manages the Jewish Foundation and the Memphis Jewish Federation.  “During the height of COVID we were communicating weekly with our local Jewish organizations and passing along their needs to our fund holders. Every week grants were made to support basic needs such as iPads, computers and cameras, and larger needs such as PPE and tents for outside worship.” Ms. Linder went on to explain that without the funds that had already been contributed to donor advised funds, needed dollars may not have been readily available.

This increase in funds, assets and needs led leadership to consider the Foundation’s role in TomorrowStrong, JCP’s combined effort to address the most pressing needs facing our Memphis Jewish community. Through internal staff promotions, re-alignment of resources, launching of a new donor portal, and a strategic planning process, JFOM will strengthen its position as the primary philanthropic resource in the Memphis Jewish community. 

“We have exciting things happening at the Foundation,” said Sheri Gadberry, Senior Philanthropic Officer and Executive Vice President of the Foundation. “At the beginning of August, we launched a new online donor platform. With a few key strokes donors can recommend grants, check their balance, and pull up past granting and gifting history.” 

In addition to launching the new donor portal, Foundation leadership assembled a committee to build an ambitious strategy for the next 25 years by launching a strategic plan. Led by JFOM Chair Anthony Morrison along with a committee of advisors and donors, the strategic plan will bring together key stakeholders of the Foundation, inviting their input into the future of the Foundation. 

“The process of pulling the strategic plan together has been enlightening and informative,” according to Sarah Vanderwalde, JFOM’s newly promoted Director of Foundation’s Programs. “We engaged a national facilitator for focus groups with fundholders and professional advisors and have developed a series of surveys. The data we gather will inform our strategies moving forward.”

“We have had an incredible year,” stated Ms. Linder. “Through our agency partners and the hundreds of donors we work with, the sky’s the limit.” If you are interested in partnering with the Jewish Foundation of Memphis to achieve your charitable goals, please contact Sarah Vanderwalde @ or 901-374-0400.

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Photo and interview by Gila Golder

Part of Memphis Jewish Federation’s ongoing efforts to connect Memphis and Israel, the 70 Faces of Memphis and Shoham project was designed to form real connections between the people of Jewish Memphis and the people of Shoham, Israel, Memphis’s partner city through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership 2Gether program. The project serves as a way to connect Jewish Memphians to each other by showcasing their unique character and contributions to the community.

Gabby Bray knew about BBYO, an international youth organization with four chapters in Memphis. Her mother had been active in BBYO as a teen, and many of her friends had already joined. But she was hesitant to get involved. “My mom was like, ‘Go to the first program. Just give it a shot.’”

Mom was right. “I absolutely fell in love with it.”

That was over three years ago. Today, Gabby is a high school senior— “which is scary!”— and has been an active leader in her BBYO chapter, stepping up to plan and organize programs down to the last detail. Since BBYO is a pluralistic organization and welcomes teens from all backgrounds, it can be challenging to ensure everyone feels welcome.

“It’s being conscious of where you’re doing prayers, are you doing the right prayers, are you aware of where east is in the room…and many of the teens who have joined don’t necessarily have a Jewish background, so making sure we’re explaining everything we’re doing so they understand what’s going on.” And at a leadership convention last year, another issue was raised— designing programs that are accessible for teens with physical disabilities.

For Gabby, taking care of these logistical details isn’t a burden. It’s a responsibility she takes on with joy and pride. “The mindset is, when you’re going through those details, it can’t be a chore. If it’s something put upon you, like oh, I have to make sure this is kosher and shomer Shabbat and all of that, it’s not going to go well. So I enjoy it, and I think that’s why I’ve been fairly good at what I do.”

The one aspect she doesn’t enjoy is recruitment. “People already know what BBYO is to a certain extent, so it’s just trying to find parts of the Memphis Jewish community we haven’t reached before and picking out why they haven’t joined yet, what they don’t know, and how to get them there. But there are people who are much more likable than I am who do that!”

Outside of BBYO, Gabby enjoys reading, competing in Science Olympiad at school, and volunteering at a veterinarian’s office. “I’m currently training a service dog. He’s a maniac!”

This spring, Gabby will participate in BBYO’s March of the Living, a two-week program that unites Jewish teens to bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust in Poland, then celebrate Israeli Independence Day in Jerusalem. And next year?

“When I’ve been looking at colleges, one of the things I always check is do they have a Hillel. BBYO doesn’t continue past high school, unfortunately, but I feel like Hillel is a natural place to go for Jewish enrichment.”

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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.

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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.

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By Gila Golder

Jewish Community Partners stands in solidarity with the 25,000 people who participated in the “No Hate, No Fear” march and rally against anti-Semitism and hatred in New York City yesterday in response to a recent spate of violent attacks against Jews in the city and surrounding areas.

The event, organized by UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and other national and local Jewish community and advocacy groups, came together in just days and featured marchers from across the political and religious spectrum—Jews representing all streams of Judaism, as well as those from the broader community who came to pledge their support.

City and state elected officials also participated, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who spoke at the beginning of the rally and pledged to provide more state funding for synagogue security, increase the police presence in vulnerable communities, and propose new legislation that would categorize hate crimes as acts of domestic terrorism.

Some marchers traveled from out of state in order to participate. Many wore Israeli flags draped over their shoulders as they walked, or carried signs featuring the “No Hate, No Fear” slogan and the hashtag #MeJew.

It took several hours for the thousands of marchers to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Throughout the afternoon, the overwhelming message was one of Jewish pride and unity. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, proclaimed, “There are certain moments where we are obligated to stand up together…Today we stand as one.”

Devorah Halberstam, whose 16-year-old son Ari was murdered on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994 in an anti-Semitic attack, affirmed, “This is not just a march. We are here to send a clear message. We are proud of who we are. We will never take our yarmulkes off our heads.”

Bari Weiss, columnist for the New York Times and author of the book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” delivered a stirring address to the crowd, declaring that anti-Semitism is not what drives Jewish identity and that our inner strength will lead us through this challenging time just as it has led us through so many dark periods in Jewish history:

“I am a Jew because of Queen Esther, who understood that she had attained her royal position in order to save her people from destruction…I am a Jew because Ruth, the first convert to Judaism, told her mother-in-law Naomi, ‘your people will be my people and your god will be my god,’ reminding us of the centrality of the Jewish people to Judaism…I am a Jew because of the martyred of Tree of Life and Chabad of Poway and Jersey City. And I am a Jew because of the courage of those who fought back in Monsey and who then, immediately after the attack, gathered together to sing. And I am a Jew because of my brothers and sisters in Crown Heights and Boro Park and Williamsburg who refuse to hide their Judaism…

“Today, as in so many times in history, there are many forces in the world insisting that Jews must disappear or die. Some say it bluntly. Some cloak it in the language of progress.

“But I am a Jew because I know that there is a force far greater than that. And that is the force of who we are and the force of our world-changing ideas.

“The Jewish people were not put on Earth to be anti-anti-Semites. We were put on Earth to be Jews. We are the people whose God never slumbers or sleeps, and so neither can we. We are the lamp-lighters.”

Read Bari Weiss’ full speech here.

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My experience in Israel was amazing and had a major impact on my life. The trip was filled with amazing teens and staff who made me feel excited about Israel and Judaism. My time in Israel would not have been nearly the same without all of these wonderful people I had with me. After returning home, I immediately wanted to go back, because the trip connected me so much to the country of Israel. The first time I went to Israel, I was only eight years old, so this trip was almost like the first time I had ever been, and it was a great way to experience Israel.

One aspect of the trip that I enjoyed was spending time on the beach. It was a great bonding experience with the other people on my trip. I took this as a great opportunity to create a deeper bond with not only the people of Israel, but also the beauty of Israel. I always knew that Israel was a beautiful country, but being able to see it for myself made it even more real. Pictures do not do the country’s beauty justice, and all the scenery I saw added to my experience. The bus rides were another great part of the trip because I was able to see all of the beauty within the country. Bus rides gave me a sense of Israel, by being able to see everything from my window.

Another meaningful experience was visiting the Western Wall. I went there twice, with one time being on Shabbat. The Wall was a place where I felt very connected to my Judaism. We arrived at the Wall and then we were checked by security— there were a number of armed guards— which struck me as very different from any synagogue or religious environment in America. In America, the security doesn’t feel as intense as in Israel. Everywhere I went, there were armed guards, and I have never felt safer anywhere else. I felt really good about practicing my Judaism in such a secure place. When I walked closer towards the wall, I felt very connected to it, and saying a prayer made me feel at peace. This experience brought me closer to Israel and to all of the people on my trip.

Shabbat is a very fun time for me and it is one of my favorite camp traditions, so I was very excited to experience it in Israel. The day felt even more special than any other day. On Friday, the whole country had a different feel because everybody was preparing for Shabbat. My group went to the Western Wall again, which felt different because more people were there than the last time we went, and they were all wearing fancy Shabbat clothes. I loved that everybody treated it as a special day more than the rest of the week.

My trip to Israel was an amazing journey. I had experiences that I don’t think I could have had anywhere else. I met many wonderful people and saw amazing places. It would not have been the same without the group of people who I went with. After touring Israel, I feel more connected to my Judaism and myself.

Sophie Skolnick, the daughter of Larry Skolnick, is a 11th grade student at Hutchison School. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided her with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the costs of her Summer 2019 BBYO program in Israel. All rising juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants of up to $3000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Teen Israel Experience applications for summer 2020 are available at

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Excitement is in the air as plans are underway for Memphis Jewish Federation’s Women’s Impact Luncheon featuring OPI Nail Lacquer co-founder and brand ambassador Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.

Learn more and buy tickets.

This donor appreciation event comes on the heels of two recent Memphis Jewish Federation (MJF) women’s mission trips to Israel. These emotionally fulfilling trips inspired lay leaders and staff to think of ways to connect more intimately with all women in our community and bring meaningful programs to connect them with the Memphis and global Jewish community.

Twenty-three-plus host committee members are in the midst of planning this inspiring Women’s IMPACT luncheon, which will be hosted by MJF on January 16, 2020, in the MJCC Belz Social Hall. Sponsors include Goulds Salon • SPA, Robert Irwin Jewelers, and Roadshow BMW.

“Forty-five women representing a cross-section of the Memphis Jewish community recently participated in an emotionally fulfilling women’s spiritual journey to Israel, and another 13 in a MOMentum mission for mom’s whose children under the age of 18 are still living at home,” said Laura Linder, Jewish Community Partner (JCP) President and CEO. JCP is the operating organization of Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis.

“Memphis women of all ages are seeking meaningful involvement with organizations that share their values.” said Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation chair and event co-chair alongside Jill Steinberg. “Federation provides many opportunities for that interaction. With the powerful and meaningful story of Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, Federation’s Women’s Impact Luncheon will be the place to be on January 16.”

The committee members who have begun setting the stage for an impactful event include: Deena Arnold, Hallie Charney, Erin Dragutsky, Janis Finan, Cindy Finestone, Karen Franklin, Shayna Giles, Margo Gruen, Laurie Karchmer, Karen Karmel, Barb Lansky, Jami Lazarov, Sharon Lubin, Jaclyn Marshall, Jeri Moskovitz, Brooke Ortman, Stephanie Petersen, Shelley Robbins, Debbie Rosenthal, Jody Shutzberg, Stacy Siegler, Lisa Silver, Jill Steinberg, Jana Weiskopf, and Shaina Zakalik.

“Suzi Weiss-Fischmann has such an incredible story about her parents being Holocaust survivors, escaping Communist Hungary, and building a fashion empire,” said Abbey Cowens, Memphis Jewish Federation Manager, Campaign & Corporate Development. “She is also very passionate about empowering young Jewish professional women.”

In addition to the luncheon, which is open to all women donors who make a minimum household gift of $180 to Federation’s 2020 Annual Community Campaign, young women professionals will have an opportunity to meet with Suzi for a closed-door session about the importance of having vision and perseverance in business.

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Above: Jewish Foundation of Memphis B’nai Tzedek teen volunteers Talya Mendelson, Brooke Sanderson, and Morgan Schrier supported the Girls on the Run 5k race on November 10 at the MJCC.

By Sarah VanderWalde

As the Jewish Foundation of Memphis gets ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020, its teen philanthropy program, B’nai Tzedek, is gearing up too. Founded in 2002, B’nai Tzedek teaches Jewish teens to become philanthropists and this year the teens will be busy with both philanthropy and volunteering.

Sarah VanderWalde, Endowment Development Manager at the Jewish Foundation, has assumed the role to lead the B’nai Tzedek program. Under her leadership, she is introducing a new component to B’nai Tzedek: hands-on volunteering. The program will join existing volunteer opportunities and create new ones in partnership with Rashki Osina, Program Manager and Therapist at Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service.

On November 10, 2019, several B’nai Tzedek members came out to the Memphis JCC to support young girls running the Girls on the Run 5k race. The teens held signs along the race course to encourage the girls to keep going. One teen even ran part of the race to motivate a young girl to keep jogging.

“I love being a part of B’nai Tzedek,” said Brooke Sanderson, a 7th grader at the Margolin Hebrew Academy. “Not only am I learning about how to give back with money but it is also allowing me to volunteer. I had a great time helping out at the Girls on the Run race and can’t wait to do more to help others in the community.”

The next volunteer activity is scheduled for Sunday December 15 to support Memphis Jewish Federation’s PJ Library program. Teens will help the PJ Library families make Chanukah crafts and play dreidel games at the Benjamin Hooks Library from 3:00-4:00pm.  More volunteer dates are being planned for 2020. 

Teens join B’nai Tzedek by donating $250 of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah money to the Jewish Foundation of Memphis. This money is used to establish a donor-advised fund in their name.  A generous donor matches each teen’s $250 donation, so there is automatically $500 in each fund.  This money can be used towards any non-profit in the United States and the teens choose where they would like to donate.

An additional part of the B’nai Tzedek program is deciding as a group how to allocate $10,000 (endowed by an anonymous donor) to local Jewish agencies.   Memphis Jewish non-profits are invited to submit grant proposals for this money. In 2019, 15 agencies submitted over $43,000 in requests. The granting cycle for 2020 will open in January 2020. 

The next meeting for the teens will take place on December 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm where they will create the 2020 grant application. Any teen who has become Bar or Bat Mitzvah can join B’nai Tzedek at any time.  

To be a part of the B’nai Tzedek program, fill out the online form, or contact Sarah VanderWalde at for more information.

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You have insured your valuables, now insure your values. This was the theme of a popular early morning seminar offered by The Jewish Foundation of Memphis   in partnership with the Planned Giving Council of the Mid-South and Momentum Nonprofit Partners on September 19, 2019.

When someone dies, how do they want to be remembered? Do they want to leave a legacy to the organizations they care about most? Laura Linder, CEO and President of Jewish Community Partners (which operates the Jewish Foundation of Memphis) opened the morning session by speaking about the impact legacy giving has had on the Memphis Jewish community, citing 550 legacy commitments to local Jewish organizations through the Jewish Foundation.

Guest speaker Phil Purcell, an attorney and professor at Indiana University talked about gifts that help charities now and gifts that help them later, also known as “planned giving” to a captive audience of seventy non-profit professionals, lay leaders and advisors from both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.

Representatives from Jewish Foundation’s partner agencies included Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth, Baron Hirsch Congregation, Beth Sholom, Bornblum Jewish Community School, Margolin Hebrew Academy, Memphis Jewish Community Center, Memphis Jewish Federation and Temple Israel. Other nonprofits in attendance included Arts Memphis, Ballet Memphis, Campbell Foundation, Church Health, City of Germantown, Civil Rights Museum, Collierville Literacy Council, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Girl Scouts, Hope House, Humane Society, LeBohneur Children’s Hospital, Literacy Mid-South, Madonna Learning Center, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Metal Museum, OUTMemphis, Porter Leath, Regional Interfaith Association of Jackson TN, SRVS, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Soulsville Foundation, World Methodist Evangelism, and Youth Villages.

“I was pleased to attend the Jewish Foundation’s seminar and learn techniques that we can use to encourage our supporters to consider planned giving when thinking about how they can support our school and help ensure a strong future for our community,” said Margolin Hebrew Academy Head of School Rabbi Benjy Owen. 

“I work with so many people who care deeply about Jewish education and want to support it financially,” said Scott Ostrow, Development Director at Bornblum Jewish Community School. “We focus a great deal of attention on the here and now to meet the immediate funding needs of the school, but planned giving is about creating and executing a long-term strategy for Bornblum that will allow us to continue for generations to come.”

Attendees, who were able to obtain two hours of CFRE credit, learned about the most important planned giving vehicles, how to blend planned giving into a total development program, and marketing tools and techniques for success.

Following the breakfast seminar, the Jewish Foundation, in partnership with the Planned Giving Council offered a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course titled Jailhouse Rock: Legal and Ethical Issues in Gift and Estate Planning. Geared towards attorneys and financial advisors, actual case studies, including many from Tennessee courts, were reviewed by thirty-five professionals.

Sharon Hammer and Cynthia Tobin, were thankful for the CLE credit.  Both of these women are members of the Jewish Foundation’s Professional Advisory Group (PAG), which is made up of professionals in various legal and financial fields who support the mission of the Foundation. They assist the Jewish Foundation by promoting charitable planned giving, assisting with educational programs and consulting with and providing direction to the Foundation regarding technical tax and legal issues.

The Jewish Foundation credits Dan Murrell, President of the Planned Giving Council of the Mid-South and Carol Gaudino, Director of Network Engagement & Leadership at Momentum Nonprofit Partners for their contributions.

Programs at the Jewish Foundation, like the breakfast and luncheon with Phil Purcell, are geared toward the long-term vibrancy and sustainability of the Jewish community and beyond. With more than 400 funds and a team of professionals well versed in major gift and planned giving development, the Jewish Foundation helps donors reach their philanthropic goals. Since its founding, almost twenty-five years ago, $65 million dollars have passed from the Jewish Foundation to Jewish and non-Jewish charitable organizations in Memphis and beyond. For more information on future programs or how the Jewish Foundation can help you, contact Sarah VanderWalde, Endowment Development Manager, at or 901.767.0400.

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