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 click here to apply or click here for more information.

Please feel free to 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.