Create a Jewish Legacy

 

We would like to introduce you to Elizabeth Bayer (Executive Director) and Steve Schwartz (CJL Volunteer) of Congregation Adat Reyim in Northern Virginia. Despite its relatively small size, Adat Reyim has secured the most letters of intent of all participating Create a Jewish Legacy (CJL) teams in the region. We visited Adat Reyim to find the secret to their success.

Steve responds to our inquiry somewhat puzzled. He relays that he simply doesn’t understand why anyone would not establish a legacy to support an organization that they care about. He remarked that on hearing about the CJL program, “I thought, this is the first time we’re going to ask someone to give money without writing a check. Surely, folks would just jump on it.” He has personally solicited 50% of the 270 families who make up the Adat Reyim community.

Many people respond to Steve’s approach by suggesting that they are leaving everything to their children. Again, Steve in his jovial but incisive way responds by asking his prospects: “How much will an inheritance of $95,000 instead of $100,000 truly affect your children? Yet, how much of an impact would the $5,000 per child have on the small and caring Congregation?”

Within minutes, it is quite obvious that the essence of Adat Reyim’s success lies in Steve himself. Elizabeth notes, “Steve is the mensch of our congregation. He is the support of the office, he is the Mr. Fix-It, he is the Friday night baby walker, and he is the closest thing to a grandfather for most people.” It is clear that Steve’s personal relationship and commitment to the Adat Reyim community has resulted in a range of CJL conversations.

Steve’s love for Adat Reyim started simply, after his wife “dragged” him to Adat Reyim in the 80s, when it became time for their son to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. He attended a few events, a board meeting, and was then asked to become president. Steve remarks of Adat Reyim, “This is 'Cheers' to me. This is a place where everybody knows my name.”

But how did Steve begin talking about legacy commitments? Steve shifts from his light-hearted predisposition, tears well in his eyes, and he relays the story of how the first legacy conversation he had was with his own children, when he contacted them to let them know he intended to leave 10% of his estate to the Congregation. Their support proved to be the biggest validation of Steve’s love for his community and it set him on the path to rallying others to remember Adat Reyim in their final estate plans.

We take this opportunity to applaud Steve and thank him for his tremendous efforts. We also derive important lessons about CJL from Adat Reyim’s example.

 

Fri, June 23 2017 29 Sivan 5777