On the evening of February 28th, more than fifty people gathered at Albuquerque's Hotel Andaluz to celebrate both the launch of the Jewish Legacy Society of New Mexico—an effort by the Jewish Community Endowment Foundation of New Mexico (JCEF) to support a thriving, inspired and inspiring Jewish community in New Mexico and beyond—and the announcement of $4.5 million in planned gift commitments from three Jewish families with a profound history in leadership and giving.
During the event, the Jewish Legacy Society Chair, businessman and Jewish Community Center President Art Gardenswartz; real estate developer Gary Goodman; and community activist Miriam Efroymson pledged their families' support to the community via the Jewish Legacy Society.
According to JCEF Chair Erika Rimson, since the first wave of Jewish immigration to the New Mexico territory in the mid-19th century to the present, visionary families offered the philanthropic support and leadership to help take the Jewish community "from strength to strength."
"In the spirit of these families, the JCEF has launched the Jewish Legacy Society to guarantee that the Jewish causes and concerns important to Jewish Legacy Society members will be well-provided for, in perpetuity, whether they are located here in our community, across the United States, in Israel, or around the world," says Rimson.
In his remarks, Gardenswartz emphasized the benefits of the Jewish community, "speaking with one voice" by pooling financial assets in the Jewish Community Foundation. Noting that ten million dollars of endowed funds could "spin-off" about $500,000 per year, Gardenswartz expressed his confidence that these funds, "will ensure the survival of our Jewish community and is done so in a new format, not the annual campaign way."
"We are emphasizing planned endowed gifts providing for the future and that's good insurance for our community and the legacy of our New Mexico Pioneers," he said.
Efroymson, the Boston-born daughter of a Jewish educator and an Albuquerque resident for more than forty years, read a letter that her father-in-law, Robert Abraham Efroymson, a major leader in the Indianapolis Jewish community, sent in 1974 to his grandchildren, instructing them of leading lives committed to philanthropy.
"He knew the importance of educating his descendants on the value of giving," his daughter-in-law said proudly.
"I would like to see the institutions I have been involved in continue to flourish even after my passing," Efroymson announced. "Therefore, I am leaving a Jewish legacy via the JCEF. I have already created several endowed funds; one can do it while living, too. It is an especially good thing to do with a windfall."
"Set an example for your descendants and hopefully they will follow. May our memories be a blessing," she concluded.
Goodman, a Chicago native with projects in Albuquerque that include the Winrock Town Center as well as Hotel Andaluz, discussed the transformative impact his family, via The Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, has made in Jewish life both in Illinois and Israel, and the legacy of his grandparents, who survived extreme anti-Semitism in Europe before immigrating to the United States.
Expressing his appreciation of the New Mexico Jewish community, Goodman's announcement of his financial commitment via the Jewish Legacy Society was met with delighted applause.
To underscore the importance of l'dor v'dor, or generational involvement in Jewish and civic activism, Gardenswartz's daughter Rena Dulberg of Denver and Jenny Ramo, the granddaughter of late community leaders David and Martha Cooper, were asked to share how their bubbes and zeydes shaped their own commitment to philanthropy and service.
Ramo, the executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, laughingly described herself as a Kuchluffe—a pot stirrer—in proud emulation of her grandparents. Dulberg, the current founding co-chair of JNFuture Colorado—the young professionals division of Jewish National Fund (JNF) which supports environmental sustainability initiatives in Israel—gave credit to her grandparents, Shirley and Harold Gardenswartz, for serving as the role models for her community leadership.
Members of the Jewish Legacy Society agree to create an endowed fund at the JCEF with assets of at least $100,000. At minimum, 25% of the fund should benefit Jewish causes. How you fulfill your promise and what programs and organizations you support, is up to the donor. Says Rimson, "We are here to help you fulfill your philanthropic vision."
For more information about the Jewish Legacy Society contact Art Gardenswartz, Jewish Legacy Society Chair, or Erika Rimson at (505) 821-3214.