An innovative, new community endowment initiative aims to implement a popular Hebrew adage: "Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh La-zeh" -- "All Jews are responsible for each other." The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is one of only six Jewish communities across the country selected to participate in the Areivim Legacy Community Project. It has convened 14 Jewish communal agencies and synagogues who are working collaboratively to transform the way people feel about the significance of planned giving to secure our Jewish future.
The project was developed by the Areivim Philanthropic Group, a Jewish funding partnership established by Birthright Israel co-founder Michael Steinhardt and the late William Davidson.
This innovative initiative enables North America's Jewish communities to build legacies for their Jewish organizations and institutions. The group selected the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation as its initial site.
The foundation engaged with 20 Jewish communal partners in 2004. In fewer than eight years, 800 people have engaged in personal conversations about leaving a philanthropic legacy to the San Diego Jewish community and have committed to make bequests and other planned gifts of approximately $200 million.
These statistics demonstrate the success of the Areivim Legacy Project's assumption that Jewish community organizations can be highly effective in working together to create bequests and other planned gifts. Federation CEO Ira M. Schwartz is confident that the project will have an equal or greater success rate in this community.
He states that "we are indeed fortunate to have been selected as the first large-city Federation to be selected for this project, which has documented results in ensuring that communities are able to meet the future needs of those who depend on the programs and services we help to fund." Schwartz hopes that "Areivim will enable Federation to double its present endowment and will achieve dramatic results for its 14 community partners."
Amy Krulik, executive director of Jewish Relief Agency, one of the 14 Philadelphia Areivim partners, is a firm believer in collaborative ventures. Started in September 2000 with three volunteers serving 19 families, the Jewish Relief Agency today engages more than 4,500 volunteers in delivering food monthly to 2,000 low-income Jewish families.
Krulik maintains that the secret to her organization's "phenomenal growth" is the involvement of more than 200 area businesses, agencies and organizations that believe in JRA's mission and vision. She sees Areivim as "a very exciting opportunity" to build a stronger financial future for this 12-year-old organization and explains that small organizations like hers derive "enormous benefits" from being part of a community-wide project that offers "training, materials and support."
Krulik says that she "is delighted to work with organizations with diverse missions and unique professional expertise." She expresses confidence that the project's emphasis on sharing information and resources will "allow us to come together and move quickly to meet our goals and objectives."
Andrea B. Adelman, vice president of development for the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, says that Areivim will "continue the momentum of the endowment program that the center initiated more than three years ago." Adelman joined the center's executive team in June after a distinguished and longstanding career as a Federation volunteer and professional, which included most recently tenure as chief community development officer.
In this role, Adelman was instrumental in helping to bring Areivim to the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community. She is pleased to have the marketing and promotional support of Federation and believes that there is indeed strength in numbers. She is confident that "by working together, our 14 communal organizations will create a positive 'buzz' for this important effort to endow the future of our Jewish community."
Federation has received a two-year grant from the Areivim Philanthropic Group, which has made it possible to hire Ellen Sklar, Federation Senior Endowments Officer, as a dedicated Areivim staff person.
Sklar is working with JRA, the Abramson Center and the 12 other community partners -- Barrack Hebrew Academy, Boys Town Jerusalem, Jewish Learning Venture, HIAS, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, National Museum of American Jewish History, Main Line Reform Temple, Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, Ohev Shalom of Delaware County, Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, Congregation Rodeph Shalom and Torah Academy. "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to provide this service to our partners, to ensure our community's future," said Sklar.
The grant is helping Federation to work with its partners to develop legacy plans and goals, provide ongoing coaching, create community-wide Areivim marketing materials and develop long-range legacy building beyond the initial two-year program. Incentive grants will be awarded to all Areivim participants that reach their goals.
According to Sklar, the success of the project will lie with conversations that bring planned giving options, such as bequests, to the forefront of people's minds, as well as building ongoing relationships. "Areivim will give community members the opportunity to take the time to think about what's important to them and how they want to make the world better for the next generation," said Sklar.
For more information on Areivim, contact Ellen Sklar at [email protected]  or 215-832-0574.