The story of Belle and her friend, Professor Eliezer Jaffe

Legacy gifts are often the result of deep connections and shared values. This is the story of Belle and her friend, Professor Eliezer Jaffe, founder of the OGEN.  Belle lived in New York and had worked for The Merchants Bank of New York before she moved to Israel from the U.S. She knew Professor Eliezer Jaffe and contacted him with a request for assistance.

“You are the one person who can help me with my problem,” she told him. She explained to Eliezer that she was thinking about the future and wanted to make out her will.

Having never married or had children of her own she intended to leave money to non-profit organizations in Israel which carried meaning for her. Happy to help, Eliezer recommended that Belle “do her homework” by reviewing information about various non-profit organizations, and he suggested that she access Giving Wisely. (Giving Wisely, a book and website providing a listing of Israel’s non-profits, compiled by the late Professor Eliezer Jaffe, later became the basis for GuideStar Israel).

Eliezer referred Belle to a lawyer whom he knew to handle preparation of the documents. Belle also requested Eliezer’s help in preparing for the future, purchasing a burial plot and even preparing the inscription for her tombstone. Eliezer felt that Belle needed some assistance with her everyday activities and errands and placed an ad in the Jerusalem Post in search of a volunteer to help Belle on a regular basis. That volunteer who answered the ad became very close to Belle.

Over the next several years, Eliezer would visit with Belle and even took her out from time to time.

On one of their outings, they attended a performance in Israel by Yale’s famed a Capella singing group, the Whiffenpoofs, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Their friendship spanned years, and Belle considered Eliezer both a friend and trusted advisor, more than he even realized. When Belle passed away, Eliezer learned to his surprise that she had named him as executor of her estate.

Eliezer organized Belle’s funeral and took care of selling her apartment and belongings, a true act of loving-kindness. One of the non-profits to receive a contribution from Belle’s estate was Ogen, and a loan fund was established in her name. Beyond her own contribution, Belle’s legacy has inspired others.

During their lifetimes, two of her sisters always marked her yahrzeit with donations for the fund and marked family celebrations too, with additional donations. Belle’s niece continues to contribute to the fund in her memory and to mark special family occasions, continuing a family value of philanthropy and caring for others.

The volunteer who had become close to Belle while she assisted her also established a loan fund at Ogen.

To date, Belle’s fund has provided 108 interest-free loans to working Israelis in financial need, and her legacy of kindness and responsibility lives on in her named loan fund at Ogen, thanks to the close friendship she shared with Eliezer. Legacy gifts to a non-profit with which you identify can be a way to “add a child” to your family. Interaction over time between organization representatives and people seeking to secure a lasting legacy is a great way to identify the “family” with which you want to share your values.

Judi Srebro is originally from Los Angeles and works as a volunteer and contributor to Israel Legacy Central.

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