Debra Steinbuch — Your Impact
Talking to the Past: Create Your Jewish Legacy Launches New Interactive Website
“Nobody is excluded from this. Everybody’s invited to participate,” said Fran Coleman, about the newly relaunched Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL) website. “I want to make sure that everyone who wants to be part of this can be.” Coleman is the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Major Gifts chair and the past cochair of the Planned Giving and Endowment Committee.
Cincinnati’s CYJL program helps support the Federation’s mission of bringing together diverse groups to build and sustain a Jewish community, while developing and connecting leaders, contributors, organizations, and ideas to help people in need, support Israel, and assure a vibrant Jewish future.
CYJL has been in Cincinnati since 2014 and is already leading the nation with more than 1,400 legacy donors, but the work isn’t finished yet. “Legacy isn’t about putting a number in front of a donor,” said Coleman. “It’s about helping a donor understand that they can continue to support the organizations and causes they are passionate about, well into the future. It also gives the organizations a chance to recognize and say thank you while the donor is still alive.”
This past fall, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) offered a new incentive to the 68 communities participating nationally, Each One Reach One. This new effort encourages committed legacy donors to share their stories and motivations for leaving a legacy with family and friends, helping others understand their passion for the Jewish future and their communities. Our community won a $10,000 award for being one of the top-performing communities. By sharing these stories through the new website, and the Legacy Flame exhibit on display at the Mayerson JCC, it is hoped that others will be inspired to leave a legacy, too.
The Legacy Flame was the brainchild of Jim Friedman, Director of Planned Giving and Endowment at the Federation. He said he came up with the idea shortly after his mother-in-law passed away. “My wife was lamenting the fact that she’d never be able to hear her mother’s voice again, and I thought it would be great if there was some kind of way to document a person’s history, other than just having their name on a plaque somewhere, collecting dust.”
The stories that live in the Legacy Flame Exhibit have touched the hearts of many, but for the CYJL team, there was more work to be done. “Unfortunately, in my opinion,” said Coleman, “too many people walk past the exhibit and don’t interact with it. There’s a lot of valuable information there that’s not being engaged with.” That’s where the new website comes in. “This redesign,” she explained, “has enabled anyone to interact with the CYJL content from anywhere. They no longer have to be physically at the JCC. You can send links to family members, friends, or share with your congregation. Having the Flame’s content online has made it so much more interactive.”
“Part of our Jewish values is to honor and remember those who came before us,” said Federation CEO Danielle V. Minson. “What better way to impact future generations, than by being able to actually talk with them, share your stories, let them know firsthand who you were and what you stood for. This is just a beautiful way to share your history.”
In addition to viewing the content online, there is a new feature called Share a Memory where people can add in their own content on the pages of legacy donors who have passed away. “The Share a Memory feature has made the Legacy Flame a truly dynamic and interactive piece instead of a static piece,” said Friedman. Also as part of the redesign, donors can now access a legacy commitment form directly through the webpage. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to join the other legacy donors and make your commitment.
The Flame was made possible through an unrestricted bequest left by Friedman’s stepfather Milton Schloss. “When I told my mother [Frances Friedman Schloss] about the idea, she thought it was an appropriate use of the funds,” said Friedman “as Milton was all about inspiring other people—he was a true leader of men, and this project has lived up to everything I had ever hoped it would be and more.”
Friedman said the motivation behind the Flame, and the new CYJL website, is to provide future generations a three-dimensional representation of the people who came before them, and who were instrumental in making the community thrive. “I always tell people this is their chance to have an adult conversation with their great-great-grandchildren.”
Visit the website, www.createyourjewishlegacy.org, and check out all the components. Learn why you should make a legacy gift, see how easy it is to make a legacy gift, visit the legacy stories, and learn about the rich history of Cincinnati’s Jewish community.
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