Jewish Endowment Foundation tops $100 million in assets

The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana announced that it has surpassed $100 million in total assets, according to preliminary 2021 year-end numbers that are still subject to audit.

Executive Director Bobby Garon and Board President Morton Katz made the announcement on March 14, saying that despite Covid and the annual disbursements from donor and JEF funds, “our portfolio has benefited tremendously from our generous fundholders as well as a robust market.”

They credit the ongoing generosity of community members, and especially the influence of Sandy Levy, who retired at the end of 2018 after serving as executive director for 27 years. They noted that much of the current success comes from those she cultivated during her time leading the agency. “We are both amazed and inspired by Sandy’s legacy in our community and can only hope that our work today will benefit our community for generations to come.”

When Levy began her tenure, JEF assets were around $10 million. They were $60 million when she retired.

The JEF was established in 1967 with assets of $100,000. The JEF serves as the community savings account and rainy-day fund. Income from assets can be used to benefit a wide range of charitable efforts in the community and worldwide.

It became a literal rainy day fund following Katrina, when JEF funds were integral to community recovery. Over the past year, JEF has also helped with needs in response to Covid and Hurricane Ida.

“Our partners at JEF have truly risen to the challenge of navigating both crisis and long-term planning alike, and we congratulate them on this incredible achievement,” said Jewish Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow and Jewish Federation Board Chair Brian Katz.

The Foundation board recently adopted a new mission statement, that the agency “ensures a secure future and an enduring legacy by serving as an essential resource for Jewish and non-Jewish philanthropy.”

JEF has a range of funds, from unrestricted to donor advised to designated. They also administer grant programs, the Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience for first-time campers throughout the region, the RoseMary and Saul Brooks Fund for Jewish Youth Engagement for Jewish campers from small Louisiana communities, B’nai Maimonides funds for B’nai Mitzvah to establish, and a Young Philanthropist Program.

In 2009, they established Create a Jewish Legacy, a partnership with area agencies and synagogues to boost endowment funds by encouraging members to leave legacy gifts in their estates, or through other charitable arrangements.

On April 24, JEF will hold its Annual Event at the Audubon Tea Room. Postponed from March 6 due to Omicron, the event will include the presentation of the Tzedakah Award to Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, the Young Family Award for Professional Excellence to Charles (Rusty) Levy III, and the Helen A. Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award to Caitrin Gladow.