Aligning Jewish values with investments and philanthropy

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Trending News

In a world where we can instantaneously make a gift online to numerous charities around the world or Venmo our children at the swipe of a finger, giving is quick, gratifying, and easy. I call the ability to give on the whim the sprint. Many organizations focus their energy sprinting to secure donors’ support for annual development efforts. At Tidewater Jewish Foundation, we focus on the marathon. We take a long view as we are tasked with housing resources for the perpetual care of the community. TJF invests in the community because of our donors and the partnership we share with more than a dozen Jewish organizations, synagogues, and agencies that weave together into the tapestry of Jewish Tidewater.

Honoring the values of tzedakah and tikkun olam, TJF is dedicated to creating permanent resources that meet the Jewish community’s challenges and needs.

Expressed in Hebrew, the Jewish concepts of tzedakah (charitable giving), tzedek (justice or righteousness) and chesed (mercy or kindness) instruct and compel all Jews to give to charity and treat people who are less fortunate with compassion. Tikkun Olam, translates to “repair the world.” Repairing the world can mean many different things, but to many, Tikkun Olam evokes the duty to serve those in need.

Tidewater Jewish Foundation helps community members repair the world by partnering with Donor Advised Fund holders who activate their charitable resources to impact organizations or tackle areas that align with their Jewish values. A donor advised fund account can be a flexible way to align philanthropy with Jewish values. You can support many charities throughout the year by utilizing TJF to facilitate multiple gifts. A donor-advised fund can provide some of the advantages of a private foundation while eliminating on-going legal and accounting costs, as well as excise taxes on investment income. At TJF, we offer an incentive to community members to use a donor-advised fund to keep track of their tzedakah and make an impact today. For a limited time, when establishing a new DAF through TJF with at least $7,500, TJF will match the gift with an additional $2,500 for a total fund balance of $10,000 or more.

Applying a Jewish Values Lens to Investing for Tomorrow
By aligning their capital with their values, Jewish investors and philanthropists have a greater impact on challenges facing our community and beyond. The Torah offers guidance on aligning capital with Jewish values through a number of commandments and mitzvot, Hebrew for good deeds. Below are four ways to incorporate Jewish values into community investment.

The Kuppah: Collective Giving: Kol Yisrael Arevim Z’B’Zeh. All of Israel is responsible for one another. (Babylonian Talmud, Shavuot 39a)
Our history teaches the importance of collective giving. Designated/Restricted funds for the benefit of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign are called PACE (Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment) or LOJE (Lion of Judah Endowment). A PACE fund is a designated/restricted fund which endows a donor’s UJFT Annual Campaign gift. A LOJE fund is a type of PACE fund which provides a permanent endowment to perpetuate a woman’s annual Lion of Judah campaign gift.

Through permanent endowment funds dedicated to UJFT’s Annual Campaign, PACE and LOJE funds ensure that our community has funds available that will continue to provide for vital programs and services in Tidewater, in Israel, and overseas for present and future generations.

A named PACE fund can be established with a minimum commitment of $10,000 or a LOJE fund with a minimum commitment of $125,000. Commitments of under $10,000 are pooled together in TJF’s General PACE Fund.

Designated Agency Funds: Hillel said: do not separate yourself from the community (Pirkei Avot 2:4)
The fabric of our Jewish community in Tidewater is held together by organizations that support you and your neighbors. Through a Designated Agency Fund, you can support organizations close to you. For example, you can endow dues to your synagogue or membership to the JCC.

Areas of Interest: Jewish values, some examples may include Kavod l’Chaim (honoring life), Chinuch (education), or Kesher L’Aretz, (connection to Israel), Zicharon (memory) enrich our lives and motivate our decision making regarding philanthropic choices.

In an Area of Interest Fund, your charitable dollars work towards one goal: to support a cause that you care deeply about. TJF’s staff works hard to monitor the varying needs of organizations in our community, so you don’t have to. When an opportunity to make an impact arise, your funds get to work, supporting the causes you are most passionate about. Through the Area of Interest Fund, TJF will make specific grant distributions in the name of the donor within the parameters the donor selects. This type of fund provides support for particular areas of interest, such as Israel, education, the elderly, those with disabilities, scholarships, recreation, and others.

Restricted Legacy Funds: The mitzvah of Tzedakah dictates the responsibility of Jews to give to charity, but also emphasizes the intentionality of giving as equally important to the amount.
A Foundation Legacy Fund reaches further into the future, and further into the health, welfare, and vibrancy of the causes you care about. It is a permanent fund, in your name or a person’s name you wish to honor, that supports one or more charitable organizations or causes. Restricted Legacy Funds are also unique, because they can fill in where a charity’s annual operating budget might be insufficient, as in the case of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance.

Your Legacy Fund will work hard, for years to come, to enable the changes, development, and support you care most about. Once created, the fund annually distributes income as financial gifts to the organizations or causes you specified.

Implementing Jewish Values in Investing
A number of options exist to give smarter, imbue your endowment investments with your values and leave a perpetual legacy:

Make a bequest in your will or trust. Simply specify an amount in your will or trust to endow your gift through the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.

Life Insurance Policy. Life insurance gifts are particularly appealing to younger individuals. When TJF is the owner and beneficiary of the policy, donors make a tax-deductible donation to the Foundation in an amount equal to the premium, and TJF pays the premium. Tidewater Jewish Foundation has an incentive program to donate Life Insurance. The policy must have a minimum face value of $250,000 for two-life policies or $100,000 for single life policies. Premiums are to be paid in 10 years or less and TJF will pay 35% of the premium up to $40,000 per policy in total ($4,000/year maximum). Beneficiary(ies) of the policy must be Jewish affiliates.

It may even be possible to contribute an older policy to the Foundation and realize a tax benefit.

Name TJF as the beneficiary of your IRA or qualified retirement plan. Use these assets to endow your gift and leave other assets subject to lower taxes to your heirs. Often subject to high estate and income taxes, an IRA or retirement plan left to your heirs may result in fewer dollars for them. The more you can save on your tax bill, the more your heirs will inherit from you. At the same time, future Jewish generations in Tidewater will enjoy the benefits of your generosity.

Establish a charitable income plan. A Charitable Remainder Trust will provide you or your loved ones needed income during your or their lifetime. Thereafter, designate TJF to receive the remainder of the trust or annuity to establish your endowment fund. Important tax benefits and possible increased income opportunities are available with this approach.

Give cash, securities or other property. This allows you to take advantage of immediate tax benefits and to create your endowment fund during your lifetime.

TJF will work with you and your financial advisors to identify the most tax-efficient way to establish your legacy.

What’s next?
The journey of aligning your capital with your values is a long and important one, and it can start with a conversation with your family on what Jewish values mean to you. Tidewater Jewish Foundation is available to engage with you in a meaningful conversation about smart giving solutions that align with your Jewish values. We can facilitate multi-generation conversations about why giving through a Jewish lens is relevant. Please contact me to begin the conversation. We can arrange social-distanced meetings.

Naomi Limor Sedek is president and CEO of Tidewater Jewish Foundation. She may be reached at or 757-965-6109.

– Naomi Limor Sedek