Nathan Family Supporting Foundation established at JEF with $3 million bequest

The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana announced the establishment of the Nathan Family Supporting Foundation, with a bequest of more than $3 million from the estate of Max Nathan, Jr.

The gift from his IRA is also providing additional funding to the existing Dotty Gold Nathan Designated Fund, also held at JEF.

“Max was a beloved and dedicated member of our community who was responsible for assisting in the founding of JEF and serving as one of its first board presidents,” said Bobby Garon, executive director of JEF. “He was also a brilliant attorney who took great pride in helping families through estate planning and successions. It is not surprising that Max would leave such a generous and intentional gift to JEF, enabling his family to carry on his philanthropic legacy.”

Nathan also served as president of Jewish Family Service and the Anti-Defamation League, and on the boards of various other Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and Temple Sinai.

Nathan, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 86, worked closely with a number of the nonprofits he and his wife, Dotty Gold Nathan, supported during their lifetimes. Dotty died in 1988. Together, they instilled a strong sense of civic responsibility in their children — Nancy Nathan, Kathryn Nathan, Marcy Nathan, and Courtney Nathan.

In the eyes of Max’s four daughters, “Above any accomplishments, our father made it a life-long practice to be good to others and pass on what is known to the next generation. Through this supporting foundation, we may support the organizations and causes so close to both of our parents’ hearts, allowing us to continue his legacy of preserving the past while providing for the future.”

Descended from Jewish immigrants who lived through the Great Depression, Nathan was born and raised in Shreveport. He excelled in public speaking and debate and was the first in his family to go to college, earning a full scholarship to study at Northwestern. He continued his studies at Yale Law School, eventually transferring to Tulane University Law School in his final year to be able to practice in Louisiana and marry the love of his life. Nathan would become a founding partner of Sessions, Fishman and Nathan, and one of the nation’s leading estate attorneys.

Nathan loved the practice of law, but equally loved teaching at the Tulane Law School for more than 40 years. He was widely known for his attention to and care for others, whether young attorneys, clients, friends, or family.

“Max valued relationships above all else,” said Carole Neff, Nathan’s protégé, co-author, and partner at Sessions, Fishman and Nathan. “His drive to teach and mentor was also reflected in his philanthropic work and this gift, especially.”

“Being able to carry out Max’s wishes the way he envisioned and to create a supporting foundation that will allow the family name to live on and impact the community he loved is such a special gift and reinforces why JEF exists,” added Garon.

Today, the “rainy day” agency he helped start has grown into a statewide organization with over $100 million in assets under management for Jewish and secular fund holders.