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New Haven Jewish Foundation marks $75 Million and celebrates community impact

Woodbridge – The Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven recently announced a significant community milestone: as of Sept. 2021, the Foundation’s community assets totaled $75 million. 

The organization distributes an average of $3 million annually, with over 80% benefitting local Jewish programs and organizations. 

The Jewish Foundation is currently led by Chair Scott Hurwitz and Executive Director Lisa Stanger. Under Stanger’s her 13-year tenure, the endowment grew from just over $20 million in 2005 to over $75 million today. 

Recent initiatives like the COVID-19 Maimonides Response Fund, which was established in partnership with the Jewish Federation, deployed over $500,000 in grants for critical human needs to help local synagogues, social service agencies and schools stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the Foundation has awarded grants to benefit programs and projects for Jewish elderly residing in the Greater New Haven area. In addition, the Foundation has awarded over $500,000 to date in security grants, in memory of Arthur and Yvette Eder, which have provided local synagogues, the JCC, Camp Laurelwood, and area day schools with funds to provide and enhance security systems. 

“Strong investment returns, generous donors, and professional stewardship helped get us to $75 million,” said Hurwitz. The Foundation is very proud of our approach to managing our endowment funds. We have an active working investment committee, led by co-chairs Steve August and Craig Sklar. … Lisa’s expertise in endowment law, charitable and tax planning, and philanthropic advising, as well as her passion for our community have made her an invaluable community asset. We are lucky to have her at the Foundation. 

The Foundation prioritizes working with donors to help them support causes most important to them. “I view my most important role as that of a philanthropic advisor,” said Stanger. 

Jackie Koral, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and the immediate past-chair of The Towers at Tower Lane notes that endowment funds are crucial in sustaining programming and operations at the Towers year after year, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “Having a reliable source of funds in perpetuity is the best way to ensure that our community will be prepared to meet the needs of today, tomorrow and the future,” she said. 

Joel Karp, past-president of the Jewish Federation, the JCC and Camp Laurelwood, and the past chair of five different fundraising campaigns for the Federation, strongly believes in the importance and the impact of the Jewish Foundation. He sees a great calling in his current capacity as a volunteer securing gifts for the Annual Campaign, as well as Legacy gifts and Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE) gifts. 

”If it wasn’t for the Foundation, our Jewish institutions would not have the support they need in order to thrive,” he said. 

Stanger emphasizes that although the $75 million is an important milestone, more important is the impact. 

“Last year we distributed over $3 million, over $2.5 million was to local Jewish organizations and synagogues. In the past 10 years alone we have distributed $34 million,” she said.

Dr. Craig Sklar, who served as Chair of the Jewish Foundation when this achievement was reached, sees this as a beginning of a more vibrant future. “I view it as a start … The more we raise, the more we can do to ensure the future of our community. There is still so much work to be done,” Sklar said. 

Hurwitz continued, “We have just achieved a significant milestone, but still have work to do. Although we currently manage over 700 funds for community partners and individual donors, much of the community is not aware of our work. One of our primary objectives over the next several years will be to expand our impact. We will continue to support our community partners as they grow their endowments, as well as help individuals plan and achieve their philanthropic goals. We look forward to working side by side with our entire community as we continue the Foundation’s important work.” 

Dirk Bird, Vice President of Planned Giving and Endowment Management at The Jewish Federations of North America, explained how the Foundation’s achievement reflects, on a national scale, the remarkable role that Jewish Foundations and Federations play in their respective communities. 

“We applaud the significant efforts of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven and their recent achievement of reaching a $75 million endowment,” Bird said. “Your work today is securing the critical resources to enable future generations to live vibrant Jewish lives in the future. We appreciate their commitment to their local Jewish community and the effect this has on Jewish communities everywhere. 

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