Lions’ endowments aid people
By Amy R. Kaufman
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The poorest Jews on earth, according to international photographer Sharon Faulkner, are the elderly Jews of the former Soviet Union.
At the home of Marge Cohn on June 17, some of Portland’s most generous women—the Lions of Judah—saw what their contributions have meant to Jews who only subsist thanks to packages of food and medicine provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Hesed centers. These welfare centers receive funds from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s annual campaign through United Jewish Communities.
The Lions attended the presentation to learn how they can make an endowed gift that will ensure their philanthropic goals are carried out in perpetuity.
Faulkner’s photographs came alive as she spoke for people who “have no voice.” A photo of a baby lying in a room where black mold covers the walls. An orphaned girl who lives with her grandmother and has no one else in the world. A teenager who needs an operation and, given three wishes, says she “would be happy with just one.”
In each photograph there is a sense of abandonment. Falkner’s eloquent descriptions had a common thread, no. There is: No kitchen, no plumbing, no hot water, no heat, no toys, no furniture besides a mattress, no medicine, no food—except that provided through Jewish charity.
Faulkner, who has traveled to the FSU 11 times, said the elderly “lost their life savings when the government collapsed,” and a typical pension is $32 a month, $9 for a disabled child. About 200 Federation-supported Hesed centers reach tens of thousands of Jewish children at risk and provide meals on wheels, winter relief packages, medicine and home care help for the elderly. Some centers also serve as synagogues, she said.
Herself the giver of two endowments to Jewish federations, Faulkner repeated the prayer of one Jewish person she met: “God, please stop this hunger. Stop this suffering.”
In her greeting to the Lions, Cohn said, “I’m proud to be among some of the most caring women in our community.” Helping Jews around the world, she said, is “our commitment, our obligation and our privilege.”
Julie Diamond, director of development of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, described the process of making a tax-deductible, endowed gift to OJCF, designated permanently for the benefit of JFGP’s Lions of Judah program.
“It’s not complicated,” she said. “OJCF, in partnership with JFGP, would work with you and your professional advisors to ensure that your money is invested wisely.”
If a Lion’s annual gift is currently $5,000, for example, an endowment of $100,000 would generate a $5,000 annual gift in perpetuity, she explained.
She said an endowment can consist of “cash, appreciated assets, stock, life insurance, IRA or real estate.”
Diamond can be reached at 503-248-9328.
“For 88 years the federation in our community has made sure needs throughout the world get met,” said Jenat Levison Feldman, campaign director of JFGP. “When we make financial decisions, we are the fortunate ones, as we get to determine the college we can afford. Surely, if we can afford to educate our children, we can affort to help someone eat.”
When Sharon Weil suffered a serious accident last year, she had begun her will but had not completed it, she said.
“I’m taking my IRA and putting it into the future,” she said. “I don’t want it to go to buildings; I want it to go to people. I’m planning to have young relatives involved in where that money goes.”
To signify an endowment, the Lion of Judah pins will be adorned with a flame representing Or L’Atid—“light unto the future.”