Legacy signers break record at JCF event

Israeli Ambassador Uri Bar-Ner, left, presents Jewish Community Foundation Executive Director Carol Karsch with a Recognition Award on behalf of the state of Israel at JCF’s 20th anniversary celebration of its Endowment Book of Life on Feb. 7. Holding the award is Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona President and CEO Stuart Mellan. (Martha Lochert)

Nearly 400 community members attended the Jewish Community Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration of its Endowment Book of Life on Feb. 7. Representatives of 12 community partners participating in Areivim, a nationally and locally funded pilot program to encourage community members to establish legacies to benefit each of the partners, spoke about their missions and goals.

The Areivim partners are Congregations Anshei Israel, Or Chadash and Young Israel; Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging; Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona; the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona; the Jewish History Museum; Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque; Temple Emanu-El; Tucson Hebrew Academy; Tucson Jewish Community Center; and the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation.

One of the highlights of the evening was the signing ceremony when a record number of community members, 58, signed the Endowment Book of Life, making their promise to establish a legacy plan in the future. These signers joined more than 600 community members who have previously signed.

The evening concluded with a tribute to Carol Karsch, JCF executive director, who will be retiring this spring after 23 years. Karsch is internationally recognized for being instrumental in the creation of the Endowment Book of Life, which began in Tucson and is now being used by communities throughout North America.

Uri Bar-Ner, senior adviser to the president of the America-Israel Friendship League and former Israeli Ambassador to Turkey, presented Karsch with a Recognition Award on behalf of the state of Israel. And in response to a request from many community members to honor Karsch for what she has accomplished during her tenure, the JCF announced the establishment of the Carol W. Karsch Family Endow 18 Fund.

Under Karsch’s leadership, JCF assets have grown 491 percent since the inception of the Endowment Book of Life, from $11 million in 1991 to more than $65 million in 2011. During this time more than $68 million has been distributed from all funds held at the Foundation — including donor advised funds, donor endowments, supporting foundations and grant allocations through the public grants application process — to a wide group of beneficiaries around the world.

“The energy and enthusiasm at the event by the entire Tucson community illustrates its respect and admiration for both the Jewish Community Foundation as well as Carol’s leadership,” says JCF President Keri Silvyn.