Maayan Hoffman, Deputy CEO – Strategy & Innovation at the Jerusalem Post, speaks with Mark Silberman, Jewish Future Pledge Global Chairman, about the importance of the Jewish Future Pledge and the Jewish Youth Pledge, two unique initiatives designed to help sustain the future of the Jewish people.
The Jewish Future Pledge is a worldwide movement inspiring Jews of all backgrounds to commit that from the charity they leave at their passing, at least half is earmarked to support the Jewish people and/or the State of Israel. The Jewish Youth Pledge, designed for young people between the ages of 13 and 24, asks Jewish teenagers and young adults – ages 13 to 24 – to commit to being active, contributing members of the Jewish community throughout their lives.
Silberman and his wife Linda are leading figures in the Jewish community in Georgia and other national philanthropic endeavors. Mark explains that his involvement in Temple Kehillat Chaim in Roswell, Georgia, marked the beginning of his Jewish journey in non-profit leadership. “Our philanthropic Jewish journey didn’t begin until I turned 49,” says Mark. “I grew up in Long Island, and after my Bar Mitzvah, I left my Jewishness behind until age 40 when I went to the temple to volunteer. The next thing you know, I was set on an unbelievable miracle Jewish journey for the past 25 years. It’s been a great ride with all the different organizations and philanthropic opportunities. It has been life-changing for us to have so many great friends and connections and so many interests in the Jewish world.”
How and why did Silberman become interested in the Jewish Future Pledge? He explains that it arose from a concern for the next generation of the Jewish people. “We are always looking ahead to see what’s next and the hurdles we need to prepare for. We are very concerned about the wealth transfer that will come up in the next twenty years. How are we going to ensure the Jewish future, while those people would make sure they are carving assets out of their estate to be used for Jewish philanthropy.”
Silberman and his wife have not only taken the Pledge to heart for themselves but have fully engaged their children and grandchildren. “When I signed the pledge, it became a reality, but it was important to gather our children around and meet with them. We talked about why we signed it and why it was so important to us. We went deeper and wrote a legacy letter to them informing them of our intentions,” he says. Since then, Mark and Linda gather their family together frequently to conduct family philanthropy and continue to give Jewishly.
Why is the Jewish Future Pledge so crucial for the next generation? Says Silberman simply, “ If we don’t protect the assets for the future giving of the Jewish people, there will be nothing left to give to it. If you are interested in the Jewish future, it is the right thing to do.”