Meet Our Donors
We thank all our planned-gift donors for their generous support. Here are some of their stories.
Memories of Jersey City and Havana Prompt Dedication to Jewish Future
In 1998, when AJC and Florida’s Saint Leo University founded the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies to collaborate on advancing interfaith understanding, the formal agreement was signed in the home of Mort and Carol Siegler.
They have been active with the Center from its inception and, for the past two years, have co-chaired its board.
The Sieglers have long championed intergroup respect and understanding. Mort traces this focus to the anti-Semitic taunts of Catholic schoolchildren he experienced while growing up in Jersey City, before World War II.
Carol, born in New York and raised from infancy in Cuba, traces her interest in these issues to memories of her parents’ leadership in helping absorb, in Havana, European Jews seeking refuge from Hitler’s Germany.
“One of the principal reasons that we have remained loyal supporters of AJC for about fifty years is its globally recognized advocacy work,” said Mort.
They are continuing their support of AJC with a gift that reflects their concern for safeguarding the Jewish people and fostering a more tolerant world.
Their gift will be designated for a program that advances Latino-Jewish relations. The Sieglers, who serve on AJC’s National Board and are honorary vice presidents, have stipulated that the program create appropriate impact, produce measurable results, and attract the involvement of their children. By providing their support in the form of a gift annuity, they will enjoy a tax benefit along with fixed annual payments for life.
“We liked the idea of an income-generating gift annuity,” said Carol. “We’ll use the income from the annuity for expanded charitable giving.”
How Unpleasant Realities in Lake Placid Helped Prompt a Life of Jewish Activism
Dick Volpert encountered anti-Semitism growing up, during the 1940s, in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the private club that dominated the resort town excluded Jews, even as horrifying news of the Holocaust reached America.
With few Jewish families in town, Dick’s Jewish identity was nurtured at home and during summers when vacationers included many prominent Jews, such as then AJC president Judge Joseph Proskauer.
These experiences shaped Dick’s response twenty years later when he encountered discrimination in Los Angeles, where he had become a partner in the city’s largest law firm. The business elite transacted many important deals at two clubs that restricted membership.
“It was insidious,” said Dick. “To say that no Jew could ever be eligible for membership served to perpetuate Hitler’s major premise.” A member of the board of the local AJC Chapter, Dick chaired the committee that helped lead a six-year campaign that opened the clubs to Jews, women, and other minorities. Dick currently serves as a vice president of national AJC. His wife, Marcia, was the first woman to head the Community Relations Committee in L.A.
When it was time to consider an endowment, they selected AJC for a gift that is half in cash and half in the proceeds from an IRA. They view the gift as an endowment that will help sustain the agency in difficult times and enable it to innovate with new projects.
“As a small minority in the U.S., it is critical for the Jewish community to build and nurture coalitions with all groups in American society,” said Dick. “And AJC is the most skillful and professional organization in the field.”
Howard Gilbert supports AJC while earning income for life
For Howard Gilbert, involvement in the American Jewish Committee was a natural step after his World War II military service.
“I became active in Jewish communal life in the late 1940s,” he says. “I started out in the Young Peoples’ Division of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and with AJC in the early 1960s. I wanted to get involved after seeing what happened in Europe. I knew that Jews in America and throughout the world needed a strong voice.”
Mr. Gilbert is active in the Chicago chapter as well as currently serving as an honorary national vice president on the Board of Governors. He also serves on the Board of Trustees. Now retired from the packaging materials business, he recently established a charitable gift annuity to benefit AJC.
“I don’t have great wealth, but I wanted to do something meaningful,” he says. “With my annuity, the organization gets a nice donation, and I get to enjoy the earnings.”
“I think AJC brings something special to the Jewish community,” he says. “They provide thoughtful, highly effective approaches to issues facing Jews in America and around the world. I personally think it’s the most important and effective Jewish organization in the world.”
Jane Silverman gives more than she thought possible
As president of Jane Silverman and Associates LLC in Princeton, New Jersey, Jane Silverman knows how important nonprofits are in addressing real issues around the world. And she knows philanthropy is the lifeblood of organizations like the American Jewish Committee.
Ms. Silverman says her commitment to AJC is the result of “a long and enjoyable relationship with the organization.” Her philanthropy not only reflects her values, but also her personal connection to the organization. “My late husband, Ira Silverman, was a former executive director of AJC,” she says. “I am currently a member of AJC’s Board of Governors, and I chair the Organizational Development Committee. My support goes back thirty years, in one form or another.”
Ms. Silverman appreciates AJC’s approach—asking tough questions, and refusing to settle for easy answers when it comes to complex problems in society.
“I think of AJC as a very thoughtful organization,” she says. “It really explores the roots of problems, and comes up with solutions that combine moral passion with real intellectual discipline.”
Silverman’s latest show of support for AJC came in the form of a planned gift—a life insurance policy that named AJC as owner and beneficiary.
“For me, it was a way to make a large gift without depleting my assets,” she says. “That’s important to me. It is wonderful, and works for me in my situation.”