Terry Katz raised her first dime for Jewish National Fund (JNF) more than 70 years ago, just before the founding of the State of Israel.
Katz’s New York Hebrew school gave all the children little cardboard trees with a Bingo-game design etched on the front. The students were charged with filling each square with a dime. When the card was full, they would turn it in, and a tree would be planted in the Holy Land in their name.
The daughter of prominent Russian-Jewish businesspeople and philanthropists, Katz grew up at the feet of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and the like. Her parents were actively involved in helping to establish the State of Israel.
Yet they would not give Katz dimes to fill her tree.
“My mother said, ‘I will always give you the last dime on the tree, but you must walk through the neighborhood, tell people who you are, what you are doing and why,’” recalled Katz. “That’s just what I did. And I sold more trees than anyone else in my Hebrew school class.”
Those trees were the start of Katz’s love of Israel and her active philanthropic career on behalf of the Jewish State.
Over the years, Katz served as president of Hadassah’s Henrietta Szold group and of the American Friends of Haifa University. However, she said she devoted most of her time and passion in her later years to Jewish National Fund, as a founding member and past national chair of its Sapphire Society of top women givers, national chair of Women for Israel, and a member of JNF’s Philadelphia board, among other roles.
Now, at the age of 80, Katz has decided to secure her support of Israel in perpetuity by including JNF in her will.
“It has been an incredible ride for me,” said Katz, gushing over her favorite programs, like the establishment of Jewish National Fund’s horseback riding center in the southern Arava, and the founding and support of the new town of of Tzukim, the first new, non-agricultural community in the Negev.
Katz said her children have already received provisions from their father and grandfather. As such, rather than handing them more money, she let them select the items and other memorabilia they would like to have after her passing. And instead, she let them know that she would leave a legacy by leaving any money left after her passing “to what has meant so much to me and what has been such a part of my life. Jewish National Fund helps improve the quality of life for Israelis. My gift will allow JNF to continue this work. What better thing is there than helping your own people?” Katz is not alone in her efforts to leave a planned gift to a cause for which she is passionate about: The land and people of Israel. Jewish National Fund has a robust planned giving department, which has grown from a mere $1 million 28 years ago to more than $350 million today.
According to Matt Bernstein, JNF’s Chief Planned Giving Officer, today planned giving accounts for as much as 30% percent of the organization’s annual campaign.
There are many planned giving options. Katz made a bequest, a gift through her will. This is the simplest type of planned gift and has many benefits for the donor, including providing an estate tax charitable deduction and reducing the burden of taxes on one’s family. Other planned giving options include gifts of real estate or life insurance, or a charitable remainder trust, transferring one’s cash or property to fund a trust that makes payments for the donor’s lifetime or several years and then passes what remains to Jewish National Fund.
With a charitable gift annuity (CGA), the donor makes a gift of cash or stock to JNF and the organization agrees to make fixed payments of up to 9.5% for one to two lives. Many retirement arrangements such as IRAs, Keoghs and 401(K) plans have contribution limits. A deferred CGA enables donors to give cash or securities now and receive annuity payments at a later, specified time, such as at retirement, yielding significantly higher payments at payout time and a larger income tax deduction in the year the annuity is established.
Donors can also establish a donor advised fund – often compared to private foundations – which can pass on a legacy of giving from generation to generation. A donor advised fund assures Jewish National Fund donors receive the most favorable, immediate tax deductions allowed under IRS tax laws while giving donors the flexibility to make charitable grant recommendations at their discretion.
“If Israel is important to you, you should call JNF,” Bernstein said, noting that one doesn’t have to be rich but proactive to make a legacy gift. “This is a great way to do good with what you have accumulated over your lifetime – now and in perpetuity.”
Dr. Anna Taylor of California made the decision to establish her legacy with Jewish National Fund when her husband passed away nine years ago. Without any children, the retired neurobiology professor decided to get more involved with JNF.
She started traveling to Israel with the organization and fell deeply in love with the development work Jewish National Fund does in the Negev and the Galilee.
Ultimately, she learned that with a gift of $20,000, she could set up a CGA, continue traveling with JNF, and establish an ongoing, annual grant to the JNF Housing Development Fund in her name.
“Everyone is after your money,” Taylor said. “I am inclined to support Jewish organizations, and I really like what Jewish National Fund does: building new communities in Israel’s North and South.”
Similarly, Louise and Alan Dabrow chose to establish CGAs through JNF. They said it is a “win-win situation for us and for Israel.”
“With a strong Israel, the Jewish people will survive,” said Alan Dabrow, who has been involved with Jewish National Fund since the late 1980s.
In the early 1990s, he and Louise took part in an intimate JNF mission to Israel that ignited their strong commitment to JNF. Since then, they have provided support for the Beersheba River Park, made contributions to the Housing Development Fund, Timna Park, and American Independence Park, among other projects. The couple are members of Jewish National Fund’s Century Council and Negev Society and hold national executive positions.
“When one buys an annuity, you gain many tax advantages,” Louise Dabrow explained. “Anytime we can have money invested to help ourselves and Israel, it is a no-brainer.
As an individual, you can make a small impact, but as a collective through JNF, you change the face of Israel. We are putting all our efforts into ensuring that Israel stays strong through Jewish National Fund.”
Rebecca Fischer is doing the same. She became involved with JNF in 2003 and has traveled on 13 JNF missions in the last 13 years. Recently, she took out a $100,000 life insurance policy, which will make enough interest income for a minimum $5,000 annual gift to Jewish National Fund after her passing. She said it was an easy and affordable option with a lasting impact.
Fischer is chair of JNF’s Arava Task Force and deeply committed to the organization’s sustainability projects. She likes that Jewish National Fund’s work has far-reaching impact around the world, like touching lives in Africa and Asia through its water resource work and agricultural initiatives.
“As parents, it is important to think about the legacy we want to leave for our children,” Fischer said, noting that all her children are already involved with JNF. “I hope my own children will give their own donations. But on the offchance that they don’t, I know my life gift will go on in perpetuity. It will never expire, but continue to change the lives of Israelis.”
For more information on planned giving, please call 800-562-7526, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jnflegacy.org.This article was written in cooperation with Jewish National Fund-USA.
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