LIFE & LEGACY® is an initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) that assists communities across North America, through partnerships with Jewish Federations and Foundations, to promote after-lifetime giving.  These funds will be used to build endowments to sustain valued organizations and vibrant Jewish communities for the next generation and beyond.  Through training, support and monetary incentives, this program inspires Jewish organizations to secure legacy gifts, steward donors, and integrate legacy giving into the philanthropic culture of the local Jewish community.

The question has arisen whether it is acceptable to donate a cash gift now to the endowment of an organization participating in LIFE & LEGACY.  While this is allowed, it is not necessarily the goal of the program.  The program is about after-lifetime gifts and the impact those gifts will have on future generations.  For members of the community with young families, there is another reason to designate an after-lifetime gift.  The practical side of life for a 30/40 something in Ann Arbor raising a family makes it cost prohibitive to give as much during life as an after-lifetime gift through a retirement account or through a will.  Here are two stories from two members of our community discussing why they decided to participate in LIFE & LEGACY.

A community member in her 30s who made a legacy commitment: Meet Monica Rosen

Monica Woll Rosen met Ben Rosen at a Shabbat dinner when they were both in Madison studying at the University of Wisconsin.  Monica was in medical school and Ben was in graduate school getting his Ph.D. in medical physics. The couple married and moved to Ann Arbor eight years ago.  They now have three children, and their eldest son, Solomon, completed his first summer at Camp Raanana in 2020, and loved it.  This school year he is fortunate to be enrolled as a Kindergarten student at Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor.  Monica is the current president of the Ann Arbor Orthodox Minyan. 

When Monica reflects on why she decided that now is the time to commit to a legacy gift, she discusses the importance of giving back to the Jewish community.  She knows that over the years at different stages of her life, there will be various ways of doing this, but the LIFE & LEGACY program provides a huge opportunity now. In signing a “Letter of Intent” today, Monica and Ben have taken action – they made a promise for the future.  They have set the wheels in motion for money to be invested in the community for generations to come.  Monica points out that the beauty of the program is that she does not need to make a specific dollar amount gift. Instead, she is promising that there will be a gift to those organizations she holds dear.  By completing a “Letter of Intent,” Monica has chosen to promise a future gift to the organizations most important to her family.

A community member in her 40s who made a legacy commitment: Meet Marci Sukenic

Marci Sturman Sukenic met Josh Sukenic when they were living in Chicago as young adults in their 20s. After they married and had their eldest son, the Sukenics moved out of the city and into a house in the northern suburb of Highland Park.  The couple had three children and loved their life, but they decided that it was time to move their family closer to grandparents, as both Marci and Josh grew up in the West Bloomfield area. It was a huge move when the Sukenics left Highland Park five years ago. Marci explains, “We came here 5 years ago as strangers and we were warmly embraced by the Early Childhood Center at the JCC.  We’ve made our closest friends, who we consider family, and have formed our community in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has welcomed us with open arms and will always be a part of our lives.”  Marci works at the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor as the Chai Mitzvah Community Coordinator, and she is proud of the work Federation does to enrich the Jewish community in Greater Ann Arbor.  The family has continued to grow their involvement in the Ann Arbor Jewish community through attendance at Camp Gan Israel, Camp Rannana, and both Beth Israel Congregation and Temple Beth Emeth.

Like the Rosens, the Sukenics are making a commitment that they will leave an after-lifetime gift in the future.  Part of the appeal of signing a promise today to leave a legacy in the future, is that there is no financial pressure on these families with young children. Although Josh and Marci Sukenic will continue to give generously to the Federation annual campaign, Marci notes that what her family can give now may not be as financially significant as what could be accomplished with an after-lifetime gift.  The LIFE & LEGACY program is designed with all donors in mind at all stages of their lives, so that all members of the community can leave a legacy to future generations.

For more information on LIFE & LEGACY, please contact Margaret Schreiber at margaret@jewishannarbor.org or (734) 773-3638.