Making It Easier to Support Our Community

By Robert on July 13, 2020 in Announcement,

The RJF Board of Directors recently modified several policies to make it even easier to support our community through increased grants. These new policy changes are designed to support our community through:

  • More flexibility for current donors
  • Greater accessibility for new donors
  • Increased philanthropic dollars for our community

Effective July 1, 2020, two major policy changes affecting donor advised funds (DAF) and endowed funds went into effect. The minimum balance for a DAF has been lowered from $2,500 down to $1,000. $5,000 is still required to begin a DAF and the minimum grant recommendation remains $100. And, for endowed funds, the minimum amount needed to start a fund has been lowered from $10,000 down to $5,000. 

Jeffrey Scharf, RJF board chair, stated, “It’s our intent to make philanthropy easier for as many people as possible and to remove any barriers in the way of granting money from RJF funds to the community. Lowering the threshold for new endowments and allowing more money to flow from DAFs, especially during these challenging economic times brought on by COVID-19, are in the best interest of our donors and the charities that they cherish.”

Richmond Jewish Foundation is managing over $41 million in 271 separate funds ranging from donor-advised funds to endowments and two dozen Jewish agencies, schools, and local nonprofits. 

RJF Celebrates 40th Anniversary with $40,000 Genesis Fund Grant

By Robert on January 3, 2020 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

To celebrate Richmond Jewish Foundation’s 40th Anniversary, the Board of Directors awarded the Weinstein JCC a $40,000 competitive Genesis Fund grant.

Miriam Davidow, Grants Committee chair, explained, “We originally received seven thoughtful requests for funding designed to enhance Jewish life in Richmond. After narrowing the list to four finalists the grants committee unanimously selected the Weinstein JCC’s project. We look forward to celebrating this forward-thinking and exciting project with the JCC and the entire community.”

Following their Global Day of Jewish Learning’s success, the Weinstein JCC successfully submitted their Genesis Fund request for, “Celebrating Jewish Richmond: 1700’s to the Present.” This celebration, planned for October 2020, will begin with a family Shabbat dinner. The celebration will continue Saturday night with an evening of music, dance, poetry and more with a musical and historical journey through time that celebrates Jewish life in Richmond. Storytelling and performances by some of Richmond’s most iconic Jewish artists will bring the community together for an educational and entertaining experience with friends.

The celebration will conclude Sunday with festivities modeled after the JCC’s inaugural Global Day of Jewish Learning that will include a day of multiple educational experiences led by local Rabbis around a themed-topic or a keynote speaker of national stature for an uplifting message of Jewish peoplehood.

Plans also include the creation of an exhibit, with the participation of local agencies, synagogues, schools and museums, featuring a timeline of cultural and historical events spanning 200+ years of Jewish life in Richmond. The exhibit will remain open to the public in the Sara D. November Gallery including educational outreach opportunities to supplemental schools and throughout greater Richmond as part of CultureWorks annual celebration of arts and culture. The exhibit will be gifted to the Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives for permanent display.

The three-day celebration, as outlined above, will be a community-wide celebration where individuals from all denominations, geographic areas, and affiliations will find common ground in history and learning.

This project promotes community building through education and engagement. It honors our past and inspires our future.

The goal is that the programs will create opportunities for our community to connect and hopefully will inspire all involved to continue to engage in the Jewish community, activities and Jewish organizations in the future.

Weinstein JCC Chief Executive Officer Rick Nelson said, “The Weinstein JCC is honored to be chosen as the recipient of this important Genesis Fund grant. The funds will be used to help further our mission of building meaningful relationships and providing opportunities for educational experiences guided by Jewish values and culture.”

He noted, “We thank the Genesis Fund Grant Committee and Richmond Jewish Foundation board for their continued commitment supporting our community.”

The first Global Day of Jewish Learning was held at the Weinstein JCC on November 17 and proved to be an enlightening day of learning and community engagement. Over 130 community members came together to learn from local Rabbis and Jewish educators as they reflected on the theme “Speaking Volumes.”

Members of the RJF grants committee include Miriam Davidow (chair), Rosann Bocciarelli, Josh Goldberg, Dan Rosenthal, and Jessica Samet.

Year-end Tax Planning Ideas

By Robert on November 26, 2019 in Announcement,

Year-end has always been an advantageous time to review certain strategies to reduce overall income tax liability. Now that it has been almost two years since the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“2017 tax act”) was enacted, it’s important to determine whether some new techniques could help cut your federal and state tax bills while offering some opportunities to create your charitable legacy.

Determine Your Tax Bracket

One of the first steps to take is to estimate your 2019 tax bracket. The top bracket this year is 37 percent for married couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes greater than $612,350. The other rates for joint filers are 35 percent for incomes over $408,200; 32 percent for incomes over $321,450; 24 percent for incomes over $168,400; 22 percent for incomes over $78,950; 12 percent for incomes over $19,400; and 10 percent for incomes of $19,400 or less.

If you expect to be in the same or lower tax bracket in 2020, it may be beneficial to defer taxable income until next year. However, one of the key changes made by the 2017 tax act, the large increase in the standard deduction discussed below, must be factored into any year-end calculations.

Action Item: Shift some of your tax burden to a future year. Tried and true strategies for lowering your tax bill include deferring receipt of a bonus payment to 2020, accelerating remaining deductions into this year by prepaying a deductible expense, maximizing contributions to qualified retirement plans, or making larger charitable gifts. Put those saved tax dollars in your pocket rather than the governments.

Itemize or Standard Deduction?

One of the most significant changes in the 2017 tax act was the dramatic increase in the standard deduction. For 2019, married couples filing jointly can claim a standard deduction of $24,400 ($27,000 for those over age 65).

It is estimated that because of this increase, coupled with the $10,000 limitation to the deduction for state and local taxes and the elimination of other deductible items, less than 10 percent of all taxpayers will be itemizing their deductions for the 2019 tax year.

If you claimed itemized deductions in the past, you may now want to consider “bunching” those deductions into one year in order to exceed the standard deduction amount and claim the standard deduction in other years. Perhaps the easiest itemized deduction to bunch is that for charitable contributions. One way to accomplish this is to combine tax-deductible contributions that would otherwise be given in two or more years into one.

Action Item: Make charitable contributions in the “bunching” year to a new or existing donor advised fund (“DAF”). Claim the charitable deduction in the year you make the contributions and spread distributions to charities over several years.

Another 2017 tax act change that increased the annual cap on cash contributions to charity from 50 percent of adjusted gross income to 60 percent can make “bunching” even more attractive.

Action Item: Donate to RJF’s education tax credit fund to receive a state tax credit of 65 percent of your donation.

Are you Over 70½?

If you are at least 70½ years old and are considering donating to charity, it may be more beneficial to make the donation from an individual retirement account.

Over the past ten years, many individuals have used the IRA charitable rollover to transfer up to $100,000 each year directly from their IRAs to various RJF endowments including the Genesis Fund. Qualified charitable distributions can count against the “required minimum distribution” amount but note that transfers to a DAF, supporting organization, or a private foundation do not qualify.

An IRA Charitable Rollover is not deductible, but because it is not included in gross income, the net effect may be the same as it would have been had you made a charitable contribution. As a bonus, you do not have to itemize to get the tax benefit of your gift, so you can still claim the higher standard deduction under the 2017 tax act.

Action Item: Use your IRA Charitable Rollover to fund an existing endowment fund or to establish an endowment fund to support a charitable cause of your choice. You can also rollover your IRA to the RJF Genesis Fund.

Investment Assets

The year 2019 continues to be another good year for the stock market and other investment assets.

As year-end approaches, it is an opportune time to review your investment portfolio and consider timing the recognition of capital gains and losses for assets held long-term – more than one year- and short-term. The top income tax rate on long-term capital gains remains at 20 percent. (A 3.8 percent tax on net investment income could also apply). Part of your capital asset review could be consideration of a gift of appreciated securities to charities.

You can avoid paying any capital gains tax on the value of securities transferred to your fund at RJF, and you may be able to receive a charitable contribution deduction for the full fair market value of the securities at the time of the gift.

Action Item: Consider gifting appreciated stock held for more than one year. They are fully deductible up to 30 percent of adjusted gross income and any excess can generally be carried forward and be deductible for up to an additional five years.

Action Item: Donate appreciated stock, to establish a DAF or add to an existing DAF. It is an excellent way to maximize tax savings from such gifts and retain the privilege of making grant recommendations in the future.

Action Item: Sell depreciated stock, recognize the tax loss and then donate the proceeds to a DAF, existing endowment or create a new endowed fund. 

RJF remains available to work with you and your professional advisors to maximize the benefits of these and other tax planning strategies for you and the Jewish community.

We strongly suggest that you check with your financial and legal advisors before making any decisions.

For more ideas or to discuss these options, please call me at (804) 545-8656.

Meyers and Fine Awards Presented at May 29 Life & Legacy Celebration

By Robert on May 30, 2019 in Announcement,

On May 29 Richmond Jewish Foundation hosted the third annual Life & Legacy celebration to thank the community’s many bequest and endowment donors.

The RJF Board of Directors awarded Helen Horwitz with the Anne and S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award and Robert Freed with the Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award.

Recognizing that human resources are vital to the attraction of fiscal resources, Sidney and Anne Meyers (OBM) created an award to be presented to community members who have made outstanding local and national contributions to the field of Jewish endowments. The Meyers believed that the award would encourage others to become involved and benefit the community. The Anne and S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award is a fitting memorial to their devotion. Each time it is presented, it reminds us all of their dedication and commitment to Richmond’s Jewish community.

Helen’s relationship with RJF began thirty-four years ago in 1985 when she and her husband, Hal (OBM) created the Helen P. and S. Harold Horwitz Philanthropic Fund. Their giving was only getting started. With the future in mind, Helen and Hal generously supported the community through the creation of a host of endowment funds. To support the community through the Federation’s annual campaign, they created a Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment Fund for Hal and a Lion of Judah Endowment Fund for Helen. To show their devotion to Temple Beth-El Helen and Hal created an endowment fund for new members and members in need and Helen recently created the Horwitz Family Weinstein JCC Building Maintenance Endowment Fund to help ensure the community will continue to enjoy the numerous programs and activities under the roof of the Weinstein JCC for generations to come.

Helen has been a lifelong volunteer and leader in our community and is currently a member of the JCC’s Life & Legacy committee. Her family has over 50 years of involvement in Jewish communal affairs, including local, national, and international initiatives. She has served as a mentor to numerous women and has inspired them to seek Jewish communal service.

Helen recently stated, “An endowment means that whatever we are doing goes on for generations to come…it was easy to leave a Jewish legacy because there are so many ways and so many avenues to do it and a timeframe that’s your timeframe.”

Jack Paul Fine (OBM) loved his family, his community and his profession. His fingerprints are on dozens of funds created at RJF. He served as chairman of RJF from 1996-1998 and received the Anne & S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award in 2002. The Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award is a fitting tribute to Jack’s devotion to his profession and to the strength and continuity of Richmond’s Jewish community.

RJF present this year’s award to Robert Freed, one of the region’s preeminent estate planning attorneys. Robert has been practicing law since 1972 at Freed & Shepherd, P.C., helping people with estate planning and probate issues. In addition to addressing these legal needs, he also assists clients with business and estate and trust litigation issues.

Robert is a former RJF director who served as chair of the legal and tax committee for many years and on the grants committee. Robert has been intimately involved in the creation of many funds at RJF.

Additionally, Robert played a critical role volunteering countless hours assisting RJF update several dozen outdated fund agreements by petitioning the Henrico County Circuit Court to lift onerous restrictions on endowed funds. Because of this work increased funding now flows from the funds to our most cherished Jewish organizations.

2019 Sisisky Fellows Named

By Robert on February 28, 2019 in Announcement,

Five years ago Susan and Mark Sisisky created the Susan and Mark Sisisky JDC Global Enrichment Fund.

In a highly competitive process, carefully screened young adult Jewish leaders are chosen to travel internationally to learn the important work of the American Joint Distribution Committee around the world. Each fellow has returned home to Richmond with a unique perspective inspired to do more.

The Sisisky Fellows selection committee recently met to choose the 2019 fellows. These fellows will choose service experiences, including education events and programs and leadership development opportunities, and will return to Richmond to share their new found knowledge and experiences with our community.

This year’s Fellows will experience Ukraine’s truly unique and historic Jewish communities. This year’s fellows are: Amanda Braun, Zach Brenner, Rebecca Kohn, Alison Litvin, Rachel Peters, Ashley Rosenberg, Alexandria Vornholt.

Amanda Braun

Amanda Braun, originally from Princeton, N.J., is the development and engagement associate with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.

Since graduating from Wellesley College in 2012, she has been involved in several progressive political campaigns across the country from Rep. Joe Kennedy’s first Congressional race to Sec. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. When not on the campaign trail, she also been in a variety of nonprofit and public service roles, including serving as a White House Intern during the Obama Administration.

She now lives in Richmond with her wife, Elizabeth, where they love trying new restaurants and exploring exhibits at the VMFA.

Zach Brenner

Zach Brenner was born in Norfolk and raised there alongside a younger brother and sister before heading to college at Vanderbilt University. After graduating, he spent 6 months in Buenos Aires, Argentina exploring a new country before returning to Norfolk to work at Sentara Vascular Specialists for two years. Deciding to change careers, Zach moved to Richmond where his brother was living and ventured into real estate. He completed a graduate certificate at VCU and worked at Thalhimer in commercial property management for over four years. In August 2017, he moved over to SL Nusbaum and took on a new challenge in brokerage. In addition to his hobbies of soccer, tennis, and traveling, he currently serves the Jewish community of Richmond as a board member, YAD campaign director, and on the young leadership cabinet.

Rebecca Kohn

Rebecca Kohn is a Virginia licensed attorney currently working with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP in their Business Intake and Conflicts department. Rebecca moved from Upstate New York to Richmond in 2013 to attend University of Richmond School of Law. She quickly fell in love with Richmond and realized there was nowhere else she wanted to lay down roots. Before law school, Rebecca attended State University of New York – Binghamton University, where she received a bachelor’s in Philosophy, Politics, and Law.

Rebecca is on the Network JCFR committee and a graduate of the JCFR young leadership program – Community Leadership Institute.

Outside of her involvement with the Richmond Jewish community Rebecca’s time is mostly spent volunteering as a foster home for dogs through the animal rescue MOMS VA and playing sports with Stonewall Sports – Richmond, a nonprofit sports league for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies focused on growing an inclusive community and supporting local non-profit organizations.

Alison Litvin

Alison Litvin, comic enthusiast and crafter extraordinaire, has had a passion for exploring the world for as long as she can remember.

Born in Brussels, Belgium, Alison was raised by a young couple whose love for travel equaled their love for each other. The new family of three backpacked across Europe, with little Alison tucked neatly in her stroller. Fast forward 20 years later, and Alison is grown and ready to embark on her own adventure, halfway around the world, and entirely on her own.

Excited at the prospect of college and “becoming an adult,” Alison attended the University of Mary Washington for two years studying Education. It was what she thought she wanted since the 4th grade; to become an elementary school teacher and inspire her own classroom of students to change the world.

But after two years, something wasn’t right; the school, the classes, the whole experience in itself. Inspired by her parents’ suggestion of returning to her roots, Alison started the new fall semester at Tel Aviv University’s International Program. Two years later, she would graduate with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and all sorts of new experiences.

Ready to start a new journey in Richmond, Alison joined Congregation Or Atid and their religious school, sharing her perspective and experiences to inspire her students to embrace their heritage and explore their roots.

Two more years would pass, and Alison finds herself the education coordinator of the Helen and Sam Kornblau Religious School, leading students and families to explore their own unique Jewish Journeys. Her own journey being far from over, Alison is looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Rachel Peters

Rachel Peters was born and raised in Richmond. She has always had strong connections to the Jewish Community Center in Richmond as she enjoyed all her Center had to offer. From participating as a preschooler, volunteer, camper and camp counselor to teacher at the Weinstein JCC.

After participating in Birthright and extending her time to live in Israel during the summer of 2007, Rachel knew her purpose was working with children back in her own Jewish community. Rachel was inspired by her mother in believing the importance of the power of early childhood education.

Rachel devotes her career to inspiring and stimulating early learners and their families at the Weinstein JCC preschool for over 8 years. Rachel has spent her professional career building connections with her students and families. She believes in creating Jewish stewards of the world and encourages the parents of the students she teachers to understand these important Jewish values as well.

Ashley Rosenberg

At the age of 11, Ashley Rosenberg decided she wanted to become a surgeon. Since that time, she has been dedicated to achieving that goal.

She was born and raised in Denver.  Dr. Rosenberg attended the University of Arkansas, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. She was heavily involved in organic chemistry research as an undergraduate.

Among her achievements, she was published and traveled throughout the country to conferences presenting her work toward developing Antascomicin B, a Parkinson’s disease treatment.

She was responsible for founding the University of Arkansas Hillel and served as its president.

Following her undergraduate studies, she attended the University of Arkansas College of Medicine and graduated with Honors in Research. She began her residency training in General Surgery at The Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University three years ago.

This year, she is VCU’s first Global Surgery Research Fellow. She has been living and working in Rwanda teaching and training those working on the ambulance.

Alexandria Vornholt

Alexandria Vornholt, a Tucson, Arizona, local, moved to Richmond in 2016. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

After working for the Girl Scouts part-time during her undergraduate years, she continued to pursue a career in youth programming after graduation. Currently, she serves as the program, events, and community partnerships manager for the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, where she designs and coordinates program events for 11,000 girls and families in central Virginia.

With an emphasis on STEM and the outdoors, Alexandria is committed to providing exposure to non-traditional career fields, fostering relationships between girls and community mentors, and teaching skills that girls may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore.

After moving to Richmond, Alexandria quickly recognized the need to nurture and expand Jewish young adult program opportunities in the area.

In partnership with Congregation Beth Ahabah, Alexandria is heading up a robust Jewish Young Adult program with a focus on social connection, inter-congregation community building, and Jewish life and values for their 80+ members between ages 22 and 36. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the Richmond restaurant scene, and writing music with her husband, Eric.

The Sisisky Fellows Committee is chaired by Clare Sisisky and includes committee members Michal Coffey, Adam Beifield, Zach Sisisky and Shoshanna Schechter.

Including this year’s seven new Sisisky Fellows, a total 26 individuals have now been selected.

Camp and Israel Scholarships Available

By Robert on January 18, 2019 in Uncategorized,

Scholarships are available from several Richmond Jewish Foundation funds to study and travel in Israel and to attend overnight Jewish summer camp. Completed applications are due in the RJF office by Friday, March 1, 2019.  

Study and Travel in Israel

The Mooney, Rose & Mosey Greenberg Israel Scholarship Fund was established over thirty years ago by the Greenberg Family as a tribute to their parents and brother in recognition of the family’s long support of the State of Israel.  The Fund provides grants to Richmond area youth traveling to Israel who meet certain criteria. Need-based scholarships of approximately $1000 are available depending on the number of qualified applicants.

Overnight Jewish Summer Camp Experience

In 1987, the Sroka/Karp Memorial Fund was established by Bill and Sandy Sroka, in memory of their parents, to provide partial need-based scholarships to Richmond and Tidewater area students interested in attending Jewish overnight summer camps. Summer campers are exposed to the richness of Jewish life, including the beauty of Shabbat, the meaning of prayer and familiarity with the Hebrew language, as well as traditional camp activities. Need-based scholarships of approximately $250-$500 are available depending on the number of qualified applicants.  

To apply for these scholarships please visit For more information please contact Joice Burnette at

To donate to these funds to provide even more resources please visit and click on the green Donate button. If you are interested in creating your own named fund to support the charities or causes of your choice, please contact the RJF office at 804-545-8656 to discuss how to create your legacy.

RJF Announces Genesis Fund Grant Competition for Community Projects

By Robert on January 4, 2019 in Uncategorized,


At the Foundation’s quarterly Grants Committee meeting Miriam Davidow, committee chair, confirmed that this year’s Genesis Fund grants would focus on compelling needs in the community. Davidow stated, “Looking at needs expressed by the community, the Grants Committee determined that our Jewish agencies and synagogues would be best served through a funding stream that would provide for compelling needs. We look forward to reviewing this year’s proposals.”

Applications will be forwarded to eligible community partners in January and awarded during the spring.

The Genesis Fund, the Foundation’s unrestricted pool, is a communal source for research, development and special projects funding, providing support to a wide variety of communal projects. In 1993, Neil November (OBM) wrote, “I believe the Genesis Fund should be developed so the Jewish community of Richmond will always have a reserve to meet the future local and international crises…Sara Belle and I are pleased to be in a position to help our people for generations into the future.”

Since 2005, $500,000 in Genesis Fund grants have been awarded to the community to support dozens of projects.

Examples of some of the competitive committee-reviewed grant process, approved by the RJF Board are:

• 2017 Safety and Security grants to the community for capital needs,
• 2016 Safety and Security grants to the community for various projects,
• Jewish Community Federation of Richmond for the 2017 Community Study,
• Congregation Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives to collect and record an on-line database about Jewish cemeteries in Richmond and the surrounding areas,
• Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and partners for Operation Promise for education and acculturation of new Israelis from Ethiopia,
• Jewish Community Federation of Richmond to support the PJ Library program,
• Jewish Family Services to provide services focused on the independence of senior new Americans,
• Aleph-Bet Preschool for an Early Childhood Hebrew Development program,
• Weinstein JCC to host the Maccabi Games,
• Weinstein JCC for its 50th Anniversary celebration,
• Yeshiva of Virginia Free Loan Fund at Rudlin Torah Academy,
• Congregation Beth Ahabah’s Jewish Film Festival,
• Virginia Holocaust Museum’s Distance Learning project,
• Temple Beth-El Teens Aiding Students toward Education,
• Beth Sholom Senior Exercise Program
• JFS and the University of Richmond Hillel for Operation Exodus: The Story of Russian Jewish Resettlement in Richmond,
• VHM and the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery for the A Million is One project,
• Chabad’s Friendship Circle of Virginia’s project,
• JFS and Congregation Beth Ahabah’sKIRVA project,
• Weinstein JCC’s REELAbilities Film Festival.

To learn more about how to participate in these community programs, please contact the agency or synagogue delivering the services and to learn more about how to financially support the Richmond Jewish Foundation Genesis Fund, contact us at RJF. 

Bundle Your Gifts, Supersize Your Deductions

By Robert on November 2, 2018 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last December has afforded many of our generous donors with tax-wise giving opportunities including a new twist on a proven tactic: Bundling several years of intended contributions into a donor advised fund (DAF) allows you to supersize your income tax charitable deductions.

The new standard deduction is $12,000 for single taxpayers and $24,000 for married persons filing jointly. The new law also sets a $10,000 maximum for state and local real estate and income taxes. These limit many people to only the standard deduction – unless they bundle their charitable donations.

Consider this example for a donor who knows 2018 will be an especially high-income year. They have no mortgage (therefore no mortgage interest to deduct), property tax on their home is above that $10,000 maximum, and their medical expenses won’t be deductible as they will be under 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. They normally donate $30,000 each year to their DAF, so this year they could claim deductions totaling $40,000.

Because they know their income will exceed $400,000 this year, and because they are highly committed to granting from their DAF on a consistent basis to the charities of their choice, they decide to bundle three years of gifts and make them all in 2018. Their $90,000 donation to their DAF will grow tax free allowing them to make recommendations to various charities when they see fit over the next three years.

By bundling these contributions – plus the $10,000 state and local real estate and income maximum – their deduction will be $100,000 in 2018, and they plan to claim only the standard deduction in 2019 and 2020. Their total deduction over three tax years will be $148,000 instead of $120,000, a bonus of more than 20% that sharply cuts their income tax bill.

Everyone’s tax situation is different and now is a great time to talk to your trusted financial advisor before the end of the year rush.

To learn more about your charitable options and how to start a DAF or a legacy fund please contact me at or call (804) 545-8656.

Register Now

By Robert on June 22, 2018 in Uncategorized,

A Primer: Bitcoin Currency & Blockchain Technology

Please join Richmond Jewish Foundation for a lunch and learn session with Glenmede’s Stephen Burns.

Thursday – August 2, 2018
12:00 – 1:00
Weinstein JCC

To reserve lunch and a seat please register.

Stephen Burns of Glenmede aided in the firm’s research into the rise of cryptocurrencies, and the importance of blockchain technology. Stephen will offer a primer on Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology, explaining the basics and its implications?

Who are the players?
What is the technology?
How has the space grown and evolved?
What are the implications?


Community Celebrates at Life & Legacy Event

By Robert on June 2, 2018 in Announcement,

On the evening of May 30, Richmond Jewish Foundation installed new directors and officers during its annual meeting, then hosted 175 community members at the Weinstein JCC for the 2nd annual Life & Legacy donor thank you celebration.

During the annual meeting, RJF Chairman Adam Plotkin welcomed and updated the board.  At the end of 2017, RJF was managing just under $40 million in assets. During the year, $3.7 million was donated to RJF from 171 donors and RJF granted out over $3.3 million to 176 different charities. Ninty-two percent of those dollars supported our local community and over two dozen new funds were created during the year.

Jim Weinberg, Nominating Committee chair, installed RJF’s new directors and officers. New officers include Frances Goldman (chair), GD Rothenberg (treasurer), Jeff Scharf (secretary) and Miriam Davidow (assistant secretary).  New directors in the Class of 2021 include: Beryl Ball, Josh Goldberg, Jessica Samet, Michael Pirron, Clare Sisisky and Wolf Joffe.

When asked why the RJF chairmanship was important to her, Goldman answered, “RJF is the bedrock of all charitable giving in Jewish Richmond and legacy giving is vital to the long-term health of Jewish Richmond. RJF represents the past, present and future of our community’s legacies for all generations. I’m excited about letting everyone in Richmond, Jewish and not, know about the benefits their donations can provide now and for posterity.”

Weinberg thanked the following directors who are rotating off the RJF board: Andy Brownstein, David Fratkin, Ruth Greene, Gail Moskowitz, Walter Rabhan and Jay Schwartz.

Members of the Nominating committee include chairman, Jim Weinberg, Frances Goldman, Adam Plotkin and Andy Brownstein.

Life & Legacy Celebration

The annual meeting was followed by the Life & Legacy Celebration that included a lively cocktail reception and awards program.

During the celebration, it was announced that over the last two years more than 320 donors created 444 legacies for a projected almost $17 million in future gifts for the Richmond Jewish community.

Frances Goldman presented the Anne and S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award to Sue and Charles (OBM) Harowitz. The award is presented to community members who are outstanding contributors to the field of Jewish endowments.

The Anne and S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award honors those who promote the growth of Richmond Jewish Foundation, give financially and exhibit the qualities of “leadership, vision, imagination and activity.”The Meyers believed that the award would encourage others to become involved and benefit the community.

Charles and Sue first began a relationship with RJF in 1999 by creating the Florine H. and Charles L. Harowitz Donor Advised Fund. This relationship continues today as Sue recently funded the Florine H. and Charles L. Harowitz Legacy Fund that was created prior to Charles’s passing in 2015.

At the event, the creation and funding of the Florine H. and Charles L. Harowitz Camp Hilbert Scholarship Fund also was announced.

Goldman then presented the Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award to Heritage Wealth Advisors for their commitment to building long-term and lasting relationships with many of Richmond Jewish Foundation’s most ardent supporters and donors and to help them with their charitable priorities.

The Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award honors local estate planning professionals committed to philanthropic giving and the future of the Jewish community and who have been instrumental in working with their clients to create lasting gifts to our community through RJF.

The evening’s festivities concluded with the presentation of a “Dear Donor” legacy thank you video and a presentation of incentive checks to the Life and Legacy partners for meeting or exceeding their goals for the year.

RJF to celebrate May 30

By Robert on April 27, 2018 in Uncategorized,

Beginning at 6:15, Wednesday, May 30, Richmond Jewish Foundation will celebrate and thank its many donors with a community-wide Life & Legacy celebration.

Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award

HWARJF will present the Jack Paul Fine Mitzvah Society Award to Heritage Wealth Advisors.

It is Heritage Wealth Advisors mission to help their clients achieve their personal financial goals and philanthropic purpose, which in many instances includes the desire to give back to Jewish organizations in the Richmond area.

Meyers Award
This year’s Anne and S. Sidney Meyers Endowment Achievement Award is being presented to Sue and Charles (OBM) Harowitz.

Charles and Sue first began a relationship with RJF in 1999 by creating the  Florine H. and Charles L. Harowitz  Donor Advised Fund. This relationship continues today as Sue recently funded the Florine H. and Charles L. Harowitz Legacy Fund that was created prior to Charles’s passing in 2015. The family’s fund supports local and national Jewish and secular organizations and Israel.

Please join Richmond Jewish Foundation’s board and staff at the Weinstein JCC Wednesday, May 30, at 6:15 p.m. to celebrate the second year of our community-wide Life & Legacy program including a thank you to our donors and a check presentation to our Life & Legacy partners.

To RSVP, please contact Lauren Plotkin at or call 545-8624.

The Amazing Charitable IRA Rollover Gift

By Robert on March 23, 2018 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

Image result for ira charitable rollover

If you are at least 701/2 years old, you can make a direct charitable gift to Richmond Jewish Foundation of up to $100,000 in a single year from your IRA account without having to pay federal tax on the withdrawal.

Your donation can fund your legacy or create an endowment to support the charities of your choice. This permanent tax provision was preserved in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017. Plus, such a gift will qualify for your “required minimum distribution” and you can repeat this gift of up to $100,000 every year.

Consider this example: Ms. Donor is widowed and 77 years old. She must take her required distribution from her IRA before December 31. In her case, she must withdraw close to 4 percent of the total value of her $1.2 million IRA, or more than $45,000. In the process, she must pay ordinary income tax on the amount.

Instead of making the withdrawal, she makes a distribution of $45,000 to Richmond Jewish Foundation through her IRA administrator. This amount is “rolled over” and is not subject to federal income tax and it satisfies her mandatory distribution.

Because the money goes directly to the endowment fund she created, there is no income tax charitable deduction. Had Ms. Donor taken the distribution directly instead and then given it to RJF, she could have claimed a charitable deduction, but the distribution would have been taxed. If she can use the entire deduction, it will offset the taxable distribution and the net effect will be the same as a direct rollover from her IRA to RJF. However, if she does not itemize, she may be worse off financially from the tax consequences.

Another option for Ms. Donor, if she feels that her IRA income will not be needed for the foreseeable future, is to use the maximum annual benefit of the Charitable IRA Rollover and transfer $100,000. This effectively advances more than two years of this type of gift and reduces the size of her IRA without paying federal tax.

This substantial gift will fund an endowment immediately allowing grants to be made annually to the charities designated in the endowment fund.

To learn more about IRA Rollover Gifts, please click here, contact your IRA administrator or reach out to RJF at (804) 545-8656.

Donor Advised Funds – The Perfect Giving Vehicle

By Robert on February 23, 2018 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

Like most nonprofits, RJF receives a lot of donations in December each year. This past December was different, though. The phone was ringing off the hook after The Tax Cut and Jobs Act became law resulting in many more donations than usual.

In 2017, $3.7 million was donated to RJF with one-third of that amount donated in December. Many of our generous donors poured money into their donor-advised funds (DAFs), which allows for immediate tax deductions but gradual distributions to nonprofits and synagogues. These charitable giving vehicles are easy to create and provide tremendous flexibility.

RJF currently manages 78 DAFs. Ten new DAFs were created in 2017 alone. DAF donors recommended donations of $1.8 million to charities here in Richmond, the U.S. and around the world. Over half of our 2017 grants came from recommendations from our DAF donors.

The aim of many of our donors in December was to donate before the end of the calendar year, when, for tax purposes, giving became less advantageous for many households. Beginning in 2018 the standard deduction will nearly double to $24,000 for a married couple and the state-and-local-tax deduction will be limited to $10,000. More donors will claim the standard deduction and fewer will get a direct benefit for their charitable contributions. According to the Tax Policy Center about 11 percent of households are projected to itemize deductions, down from 26 percent under prior law.

Donors now have more reason to concentrate giving in certain years.  DAFs can serve as a great charitable option to manage their generous philanthropy.

We work with a host of professional advisors, including certified public accountants, wealth advisors, and estate planning attorneys. Upon their advice, many donors decided to donate several years’ worth of donations in 2017, before the higher standard deduction and lower tax rates took effect. Such bunching of donations could now become a common charitable practice because donors would concentrate donations to exceed the standard deduction every other year or so.

Gail and Jim Plotkin created a DAF in 2017. They also set up other planned gifts for the community as part of the Life & Legacy program.

“We had identified several potential projects at certain schools, agencies, and Synagogues we were already supporting that would benefit from additional funding in 2018, and wondered how we might provide for their future needs as well. We explored several philanthropic institutions, but things did not come together until we called Robert Nomberg.”

Jim continued, “He was a good and patient listener and an astute and knowledgeable resource. He helped us design a DAF that accomplished our current objectives in a creative and tax-advantaged way, with flexibility to make future contributions to our DAF or to make other donations as needs emerge and circumstances permit. He had all the answers,” Jim said.

The economy’s continued improvement helped fuel the stock market’s rise in 2017 while boosting the desire to create DAFs for many donors. If you donate appreciated assets like stocks and mutual funds that have appreciated for over a year you receive the added benefit of avoiding the capital gains tax. Donors also receive a deduction against their income taxes for the full value of the assets.

To learn more about DAFs and other tax- advantaged ways of donating, please contact your professional advisor or call the RJF office.

From Generation to Generation

By Robert on January 26, 2018 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

Herbert J and Ruth Bonyhadi Rubel were pioneers of sorts. Coming to America as refugees from Nazi Germany, they each, separately, forged their way to a new land, a new language and a new culture. Yet they never forgot the past, painful as it may have been.

Herbert came to New York just before Kristallnacht in May 1938. Ruth, deported from Vienna, Austria, to the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. Ruth and her mother were liberated by the British Army from Bergen Belsen; her mother perished from typhus just two weeks later.

In 1946, Ruth came to America to be reunited with her only living relatives. After meeting in San Francisco while Herbert was in the Army, Herbert and Ruth married and raised three daughters. They retired to Richmond, Virginia, in 1991.

Upon Herbert’s death, Ruth, striving to provide a legacy to her husband of 43 years, created the Herbert J Rubel Holocaust Education Fund of Richmond Jewish Foundation to support outreach and training to educators and youth. With Ruth’s guidance, the fund provided training, bought educational modules and supported many trips to the United States Holocaust Museum.

In October 2001, Ruth died, leaving her daughters to continue the legacy that she began on behalf of her husband. Through the Herbert J and Ruth B. Rubel Holocaust Education Fund of RJF, their children take seriously the responsibility that has been bestowed upon them by their parent’s generosity, care, and concern for the community.

This legacy continues today with one of their daughters, and her family, here in Richmond. Miriam Rubel Davidow and her husband, Dan, recently created the Davidow Family Donor Advised Fund to support the charities of their choice. After their lifetimes, their children, Alisa and Jonathan, will become the advisors to the fund to continue another generation of giving.

Miriam stated, “We arrived in Richmond over 35 years ago knowing no one. We were welcomed by individuals, congregations and organizations and hence never felt like outsiders – even though we were not Richmonders!  Being a part of Richmond’s Jewish community provided us with a home that would support us through Jewish life and all forms of life-cycle events.  I hope others feel embraced and take advantage of being a part of the Mishpacha/family.”

Miriam added, “I had the privilege of supporting a number of people who led by example, the importance of planning for the future.  When my mother created the Herbert J Rubel Holocaust Education Fund at Richmond Jewish Foundation she saw the results of her philanthropy.”

Miriam continued, “She didn’t see herself as a philanthropist; rather she saw herself as someone who identified a need and tried to fill it. Another wise man, Alex Lebenstein (OBM), was insistent on supporting three of his favorite organizations and put his intentions in his will.  At his death, a Synagogue, a museum and an important school in his life were the beneficiaries of his insight.  These influential individuals in my life and many others helped confirm the need for my husband and me to leave a legacy for future generations. It is our honor, our pleasure and our responsibility to do so.  Planting the seed will take time, but it will grow and flourish with the proper tending.”


New Sisisky Fellows selected

By Robert on January 12, 2018 in Announcement,

Four years ago Susan and Mark Sisisky created the endowment known as the Susan and Mark Sisisky JDC Global Enrichment Fund. In a highly competitive process, carefully screened young adult Jewish leaders are chosen to travel with other Jewish leaders from other cities to learn the important work of the American Joint Distribution Committee around the world.

Each fellow has returned home to Richmond with a unique perspective inspired to do more. The Sisisky Fellows selection committee recently met to choose the 2018 fellows.  They are Elliot Warsof, Holly Moskowitz and Brian Strauss. These fellows will choose service experiences, including education events and programs and leadership development opportunities, and will return to Richmond to share their newfound knowledge and experiences with our community.

Elliot Warsof is from Virginia Beach and moved to Richmond in 2015. He is a  graduate of the University of Miami, where he received a bachelor’s in marketing and advertising. He is a real estate broker for   S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co., where he handles leasing and sales of commercial properties for third-party clients. He is a Jewish   Community Federation of Richmond board member, serves on the Enterprise Circle and   Network JCFR committees, and is a   graduate of the JCFR young leadership program – Community Leadership Institute.

He also is the advisor for the Richmond AZA Monarchs Chapter of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization. Elliot is the president of his Business Networking International chapter and is a member of the Urban Land Institute where he participates in the young leadership program. Elliot’s biggest passion lies in learning, be it through reading, traveling, or conversing and connecting with others. Although he is still new to the area, he has quickly immersed himself in the Richmond culture and community and looks forward to enjoying and assisting in its continued growth.

Holly Moskowitz is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner having graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing with a BSN and a MSN in 2012. She currently provides exceptional health care at VCU Health in the field of general gynecology and high-risk obstetrics.

Holly also graduated from the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin College where she was Phi Beta Kappa and has degrees in philosophy and religion. She began her working career as a part of an organization that supported interfaith cooperation internationally through the sale of Fair Trade coffee.

She grew up in Richmond and attended the Rudlin Torah Academy.  Holly is on the Network JCFR committee, a member of the JCFR Pearl Society, a member of the Virginia Society of Nurse Practitioners and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and a proud life member of Hadassah.

Brian Strauss joined Jewish Family Services in the spring of 2015, where he now serves as the human resources and operations supervisor. Since the fall of 2015,

Brian also has worked for Congregation Beth Ahabah as its youth and teen engagement specialist. As of this August, he started working for the University of Richmond as its interim Jewish Life advisor.

Brian graduated from the University of Richmond in 2014 and is a student at Villanova University pursuing a master’s in public administration. When he is not studying or working, Brian can be found eating at new restaurants, hanging with his friends and attending Network JCFR events.

The Sisisky Fellows Committee is chaired by Clare Sisisky and includes committee members Michal Coffey, Adam Beifield, Zach Sisisky and Shoshanna Schechter.

Marilyn and Bob Flax Create Impactful Fund

By Robert on November 20, 2017 in Announcement,

I love when a random phone call leads to a significant gift for both the donor and the community. They don’t  happen all the time, but when they do, they can be transformative for everyone.

This past May we finalized the details for our first ever Life & Legacy celebration. The event was different from other seminars, meetings and gatherings that we handle throughout the year, so we were busy making sure everything was planned including a new video to thank some of our many new Life & Legacy donors.

Lauren Plotkin, Life & Legacy program director, was managing the event. She received a call from Marilyn and Bob Flax explaining that they were familiar with Life & Legacy, but had yet to create a legacy for the community. They called to see if they could attend the celebration to learn more about Life & Legacy. This one phone call led to several conversations that culminated in
one of the most impactful funds ever created at RJF.

In describing their decades-long connection to our Jewish community, Marilyn explained, “We both were born here in Richmond and have always been part of the fabric of Jewish life here. Bob’s mother led Brownies at Beth-El and KBI for 30 years, and my mother took over for her when Bob’s mother got sick. My mother was very active at Beth-El during World War II, and my father was born in Richmond 105 year ago. Bob’s father was just as involved serving on the board at RTA.”

Marilyn continued, “We got married late in life, and have no children so it’s our pleasure to give to all the entities that bring us joy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that this endowment fund will help sustain those organizations that have given us immense happiness. We enjoy the arts, and work all the time but find a balance between enjoying performances and then often will come back to work. It is very gratifying to know that what we’re doing is helping to sustain these organizations that we love.”

Marilyn and Bob feel they have benefited greatly from being involved in Richmond’s Jewish community and this feeling is part of the fabric of their spiritual and moral values. They’ve chosen to be members of both Beth Ahabah and Beth El, not only for the spiritual connection, but they also enjoy the social and intellectual benefits of being members of both congregations.

Marilyn described why creating their fund was important to them, “We want the values that were important to our families and are important to us to continue after we’re no longer here. We’ve included all the organizations that are important to us and give us happiness. So this way we’ll continue to give back after we’re no longer here”.

Marilyn continued to explain, “Creating the fund was such a pleasant experience and easy to set- up. We talked about setting up an endowment for a while and when it all took shape it was amazingly easy. The endowment became everything we wanted, and easily created a way for us to give back. At first, we were not sure how to do this, but after the Life & Legacy celebration we called Robert at the Foundation and he took it from there. We hope by doing this we’ve inspired others.”

RJF chairman Adam Plotkin said, “The Foundation and community are eternally grateful to Marilyn and Bob for the legacy they’ve created. Their fund will one day represent one of the largest gifts a family has made to RJF to benefit our community and we look forward to helping the fund grow to support our community, and the Flax’s legacy, forever.”

Creating an endowment or legacy fund is a simple process. A donor needs to complete two fairly simple steps. After you decide which charities to support, the first step is to sign a fund agreement stating that you want annual grants to go to the organizations. The second step is to instruct your financial advisor or attorney to ensure there is money from your estate, life insurance policy or retirement account that will go to the fund, typically after your lifetime. Money does not actually exchange hands until after your lifetime or earlier if there is a tax-advantaged reason to do so during your lifetime like rolling over your IRA.

RJF – Quiet by Design

By Robert on July 28, 2017 in Announcement, Uncategorized,

Richmond Jewish Foundation might possibly be the leanest and least exciting Jewish organization in town. But guess what? We’re proud of that.

We don’t operate a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility like the Weinstein JCC. We don’t provide a warm, inviting sanctuary like any of the synagogues. Nor do we offer high-quality Jewish education like RTA.

In fact, our entire office contents and workspace could probably fit in your living room, and you can count the number of vendors we work with on one hand.

But to us, being thrifty and unexciting is a good thing. It just means we can focus more on what we do best—supporting the community with financial resources, thanks to decades of generous donors. As a result, our funding and investing processes are tried and true.

For example, our quarterly grants cycles have been in place for a decade enabling community organizations to apply for financial awards primarily for new and innovative programming. During the 2017 fiscal year, RJF provided approximately $3.8 million to organizations that serve our local Jewish and secular community out of a total of $4 million distributed during the year.

Our grants procedure is rather plain and simple, but effective: Organizations complete an application and submit it to our grants committee. A volunteer grants committee, chaired by Ruth Greene, reviews the applications and determines how much funding, if any, to provide to each grant request. The RJF Board of Directors reviews the awards and twice a month we send checks to the deserving organizations.

Exciting process? No, but the results are inspiring, as we award tens of thousands of dollars each cycle. We also work closely with donors who often like to personally fund some of the grants. These donors helped provide an additional $50,000 in grants this past cycle.

At this point, perhaps you are wondering—where does money for our grants cycle come from? The funds come from three buckets: the RJF Genesis Fund, endowments created by donors over the past 36 years or from donor advised funds.

Meanwhile, our investments committee, chaired by Roger Leibowitz, provides oversight on how our over $35 million created from 250 funds are invested. This fiduciary oversight is in place to help ensure that our foundation can continue to grow and award grants for the next generation of Jewish Richmond.

This is all pretty tedious stuff to most people, indeed, but we are grateful for our donors’ generosity and our committee members’ contributions to help us fulfill our mission of supporting the community.

If you are interested in establishing a fund with RJF please contact us today. We are happy to show you how exciting the act of helping the community can really be.

Making Philanthropy Affordable with a Donor Advised Fund

By Robert on June 21, 2011 in Announcement,

The RJF board recently changed the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) policy to make philanthropy more affordable. The minimum amount to start a DAF is now $5,000 and the minimum that must be maintained in the fund is now $2,500 (new minimum applies to existing DAFs, as well).

A donor advised fund offers the opportunity to create an easy-to-establish, low cost, flexible vehicle for charitable giving as an alternative to direct giving or creating a private foundation. Donors enjoy administrative convenience, cost savings, and tax advantages by conducting their grantmaking through the fund. Donors can use their funds to recommend grants to all non-profit charities including local agencies, synagogues and the Federation. You can start your fund with cash or appreciated stock and take three years to fund to the $5,000 minimum level.

There is a one-time $100 set-up fee. The fund will be charged an annual fee of 1% of the fund’s balance with a minimum annual fee of $250.

If you are interested in starting a donor advised fund with Richmond Jewish Foundation please call the RJF office at 545-8656 or email Robert Nomberg if you have any questions about donor advised funds or if you are having problems accessing the online DAF application.