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History

Now in our second half century, The Columbus Jewish Foundation at the Robins Center for Philanthropy continues to serve the Columbus Jewish community as its planned giving and philanthropic headquarters. Through our personal relationships with donors and philanthropists, our generous grant making processes and insightful estate planning initiatives, the Foundation remains our community’s primary donor-centered resource for philanthropists looking to make a long-term impact on the vibrancy and stability of our community.

1955
Columbus Jewish Foundation was established, with Troy A. Feibel serving as founding President.

1956
Land acquisition on College Avenue. Developing Jewish community campus is the Foundation’s most important achievement during the early years.

1960
The Foundation takes title to the Columbus Jewish Home for the Aged (later Wexner Heritage House), leasing the facility to the Home for $1/year.

1963
Foundation sets goal to build assets to at least $700,000.

“Binswanger Plan” adopted to encourage bequests through non-binding statements of testamentary support; subsequently renamed the “Letter of Intent” program, the effort is chaired by Herman Katz and Stanley Schwartz.

1969
Israel Bonds purchased for Foundation investment portfolio, establishing strong tradition of Foundation support of Israel Bond campaigns.

Tax reform Act of 1969 places restrictions and tax disincentives on private foundations. In response, Foundation launches Philanthropic Fund program, which becomes its most popular form of giving. By 2005, the Foundation had 205 Philanthropic Fund valued at $15.1 million.

1972
Myrtle Katz announces plans at Federation’s Women’s Gold Circle Division to establish the first foundation endowment for the perpetual support of the Federation’s annual campaign. Concept of Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowments (“PACE” gifts) is later introduced nationally by Judith Swedlow. By 2005, Foundation had PACE and Lion of Judah (LOJE) commitments valued at $11.2 million.

Jack Resler Fund provides a $750,000 challenge grant to construct Congregation Beth Tikvah.

Foundation grant for renovations enables Community Relations Council  and Anti-Defamation League to move into the Esther C. Melton Community Services Building.

1973
Proceeds from 35-acre Eleanore and Jack Resler real estate gift used for Heritage House expansion.

1979
Establishment of Legal and Tax Advisory Committee under chairmanship of I. M. Harris. First Foundation-sponsored community-wide legal and tax seminar conducted, with 25 attendees. Program grows to major community educational event attended by hundreds of estate professionals.

1980
Women’s Committee, chaired by Augusta Frank and Judith Swedlow, hosts first “Money Management for Women” series.

Building, Property and Real Estate Committee, chaired by David Roth, is established to manage several donated office buildings and rental properties, and to develop guidelines governing real estate gifts.

Ben M. Mandelkorn becomes first full-time Foundation director upon his retirement as Federation Executive Vice President. During the next ten years of growth, Foundation authorized over $27,000,000 in charitable distributions.

Heritage House transfers its endowments to the Foundation for professional investment management.

Federation transfers $200,000 from its reserves to strengthen Foundation’s community-wide grants program to address unmet service needs, pilot programs and seed projects (an additional $300,000 provided in 1984 for similar purposes).

1982
Norman Meizlish heads Founders Fund program to build the Foundation’s unrestricted reserves and strengthen its grants program. By 2005, Founders Fund commitments total $5.5 million.

1984
Grants Committee priorities established, under chairmanship of William Glick, focusing on leadership development, Jewish education, and preserving the integrity of the Jewish family.

Morris and Fannie Skilken establish Foundation’s first Support Foundation.

1985
Three-year $10 million endowment drive launched for benefit of local agencies and synagogues, under Presidency of Irving Schottenstein and Chairmanship of Herbert H. Schiff.

Agudas Achim, Columbus Torah Academy, the Leo Yassenoff Jewish Community Center, and OSU Hillel transfer their endowments to the Foundation for professional investment management.

1988
Foundation receives first significant unrestricted bequests for its community-wide grants program from estates of Al Schatenstein and William Z. Brown.

1989
Wills and Bequests program established under chairmanship of Donald E. Garlikov.

Insurance program launched under chairmanship of Myer Mellman. By 2005, the Foundation had $33.2 million of deferred gifts of life insurance, constituting the largest charitable insurance portfolio of any Jewish community foundation in the country.

1990
Ben M. Mandelkorn retires, with Foundation’s book value at $11 million and market value at $46 million. Jackie Jacobs engaged as Executive Director.

1991
Legal and Tax Advisory Committee successfully petitions General Assembly to amend the Ohio Revised Code to enable the issuance of life insurance contracts payable upon maturity to qualified charities such as the Foundation.

1992
Foundation introduces Charitable Pooled Income Fund life-income program.

Foundation establishes satellite office in downtown Huntington Center.

Over $1,000,000 in charitable remainder trusts established.

1993
Moritz Mayer bequeaths Foundation’s largest unrestricted endowment gift to date.

Under the presidency of Melvin Schottenstein, Foundation becomes a Support Foundation of the Columbus Jewish Federation.

1994
Dr. Louis Adelman unrestricted bequest is first Foundation gift made from pension plan proceeds.

George and Renée Levine establish $500,000 educational loan program for New Americans.

Richard Lieberman endows Jewish Donors Blood Council, making it the first fully endowed local Jewish program.

Charitable Gift Annuity life income plan program launched under chairmanship of Millard Cummins. By 2005, the Foundation had Charitable Gift Annuity commitments valued at $1.52 million.

Foundation Investment Committee, chaired by Sig Munster and Tom Kaplin, Jr., diversifies unrestricted investment portfolio to capitalize on strong anticipated growth in equities market.

1995
Following a year of planning under the leadership of Alan Wasserstrom and Norman Traeger, VISION 2000, a unified community endowment development campaign, is launched with Ernest Stern as first chair, succeeded by Irving Baker. The ten-year campaign goal of outright and deferred endowment commitments is achieved in 2003, 18 months ahead of schedule.

Endowment “Book of Life” dedicated to honor all community endowment donors.

Foundation accepts $250,000 matching gift challenge by Florence Melton to establish Community Endowment Fund for Jewish Education & Literacy, chaired by Rick Levine and Rabbi Cary Kozberg. By 2005, over $2,000,000 contributed to this fund.

The Leo Yassenoff Foundation provides $500,000 gift to partially underwrite premiums of VISION 2000 insurance gifts.

1998
Foundation earmarks portion of its unrestricted reserves to generate at least $100,000 annually for a Foundation gift to the Federation campaign.

$680,000 Community Endowment Fund for the Jewish Arts, chaired by Joyce Shenk, established as a Grants sub-Committee.

1999
$1,000,000 Community Endowment Fund for the Jewish Needy established, with a five-year funding commitment awarded to Wexner Heritage Village to return the agency to fiscal solvency.

Congregation Tifereth Israel Foundation and Temple Israel Foundation contract with Columbus Jewish Foundation for professional management of their portfolios.

Barbara and Bill Bonner Family Foundation established.

2000
$500,000 Community Endowment Fund for Social Justice, chaired by Dr. Bernard Abrams, established as a Grants sub-Committee.

B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy program initiated by Henry and Mitzi Saeman. By 2005, program had 211 participants.

On the heels of the Second Intifada uprising, Social Justice Committee mobilizes to spearhead and fund stronger Israel advocacy efforts in Jewish, general and campus communities.

2001
The Robins Center for Philanthropy is built to serve as Foundation headquarters. Capital Campaign chairs Donald E. Garlikov, Gary Robins, and Sandy Solomon conduct a model campaign, including a building repair and maintenance endowment. Lauren Rackoff heads building dedication ceremonies.

Social Justice Committee launches Shalom Grants program to affirmatively address social injustices and advance positive community relations.

Foundation is ranked the 16th largest Jewish community foundation in nation, with fourth largest per capita endowment giving.

2002
$500,000 Overseas Needs Endowment Fund, chaired by Gary Robins, established as a Grants sub-Committee.

Jewish Education and Literacy Committee, chaired by Barbara Herstig, launches “For Our Kids!” initiative to engage teens in Jewish communal life.

2003
Helping Hand Fund for local needy established with proceeds of annual meeting honoring Milton Lewin.

Foundation commits up to $1 million program-related loan if plans to construct Northside Jewish community campus materializes.

Foundation Investment Committee, chaired by Reid Wasserstrom, implements investment policies to maintain strong performance record.

2004
Foundation collateralizes Wexner Heritage Village loans for construction of Creekside assisted living apartments.

Ebner Support Foundation created to provide new facility for Jewish Family Services, March of Dimes, Ebner Holocaust Oral History archival gallery, and Holocaust memorial park.

Under chairmanship of Jo Robbins, Social Justice Committee launches voucher program for Jewish needy, made available at Jewish Family Services and all local Jewish agencies and synagogues.

2005
With current assets at their highest historical level, a strong Board, growing unrestricted reserves, and leadership succession plans in place, the Columbus Jewish Foundation celebrates its 50th Anniversary, looking forward to the next 50 years of “Building for the Future.”

2006
Recognizing changes in demographics, technologies, and the importance of communications, the Foundation hires its first full-time Marketing & Communications Director.

Three Columbus teen fund holders chosen to attend first national Jewish Youth Philanthropy Conference in Denver, Colorado.

The Foundation’s Mitzi & Henry Saeman B’nai T’Zedek Youth Philanthropy Program includes over 260 teen fund holders, making it the largeest program of its kind in North America.

Successful Bella & Harry Wexner Legacy Heritage Concert series, hosted and produced by the Foundation, welcomes over 650 to the Southern Theatre.

Foundation welcomes Itzhak Perlman as part of an historic Jewish Arts Endowment Campaign. The campaign is a huge success, enabling the Foundation to more than double its annual arts allocations in the community.

At year end, The Columbus Jewish Foundation announces its current assets as over $108 million.