DJCF Donor-Advised Funds Distribute Goodness and Preserve the Legacies of Kind-Hearted Dallasites

You have heard of The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation…but it’s quite possible you don’t really know what this organization is. What does the DJCF do? Jewish nonprofits can be a confusing alphabet soup: AIPAC, AJC, NCJW, JNF, JFS, the JCRC, the DJCF. It’s like a Monty Python bit from “Life of Brian”! And if you’ve interacted with one Jewish nonprofit, you’ve interacted with all of them, right? Same experience, same attitude, same personalities, right? 

No, no, no. 

No, no. 

No.

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation is the heart of the community. As a human heart distributes blood throughout the body, the DJCF is the conduit through which Dallas Jews distribute millions of dollars for tzedaka, constantly providing financial assistance for the good of the community, the human race, and our planet through the generosity of fundholders.

Without getting technical about how charitable  foundations work, or making your eyes glaze over from an attempt to explain what Donor-Advised Funds are, or risk boring you by exploring the tax advantages of tzedaka, here are just a few examples, among literally hundreds, of projects that are supported by Donor-Advised funds distributed through the DJCF:

Medical Research 

Nature Conservancy

First Responders Appreciation

College Scholarships

Jewish Summer Camp scholarships

Funds to support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Teen Tours to Israel scholarships

JCC Scholarships for low income seniors

Protect the Protectors Fund for Veterans

Vision care financing for the visually impaired

Cancer Support Club resources for patients with any diagnosis at any stage of treatment 

Funds for Children, Teens, and Adults with Special Needs

Scholarships for Jewish education from preschool through graduate school

Endowments for the Arts

Providing Guide Dogs for the Blind in Dallas and Israel, along with training for the owner with their new best friend

The list goes on and on…

Meyer L. Bodoff, President and CEO of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation says: “It always starts with a conversation about what the donor cares about most. You’ll see their passion ignite right in front of you. Then, we begin the work of finding out exactly how they want to use that passion to make a difference. When their passions and generosity meet, real charity happens.”

“Over the last decade, the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation has granted over $125 million in charitable distributions, while our legacy initiative for the future has reached an estimated $270 million in bequests and endowment commitments. Actually, that figure is from August 2019, the numbers have grown since then,” Bodoff says. 

“Both the amount of charitable distributions and the establishment of charitable endowment funds continue to grow daily,” adds Mona Allen, the DJCF’s Director of Philanthropic Advancement,  who goes on to say: “The return is not in dividends, it is in our community.”

“This Summer was extraordinary,” Allen says, clearly moved. “One day, someone established a brand new college scholarship fund, bringing the number of scholarships the DJCF annually awards to 56. The very next day, another donor established an endowment to provide Jewish camp scholarships for kids in communities with a decreasing Jewish population. They saw a need in their hometowns and filled that need.”

Meyer Bodoff is an eloquent man, whose passion for facilitating tzedaka and tikkun olam is palpable.

“Often in philanthropy, you will hear flashy dollar amounts being announced but that is not even a thought in the first, second…or third conversations as we delve into people’s charitable goals. There are life passions to discuss, family histories to recognize…so much more breadth than simply a dollar figure.”

“This is someone’s legacy we’re talking about,” Bodoff says. “Or someone’s children commemorating their late parent in a powerful way.”

Mona Allen tells the story of a medical school scholarship recipient who was so honored to receive financial assistance from one of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation funds, he remains in contact nine years later. He is not Jewish and has such profound gratitude to the family whose scholarship fund contributed to his education that when his daughter was born she was given the Hebrew name “Shira.”

Isaiah 58:10 says: “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

Safety and Security of Women and Children & The DJCF’s First Virtual Check Presentation

Founded over 20 years ago in memory of Janis Levine Music, the Janis Levine Music Women and Children’s Endowment Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation has been awarding local nonprofits with vital funding as an extension and continuation of Janis’ passion for helping women and children. This year was no exception. The Fund Committee, comprised of Janis’ closest friends and family, chose to focus on organizations offering services that ensure the safety and security of women and children. The Committee received over 50 applications from some truly remarkable nonprofits in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties. The applicants were working in every facet and environment a child or woman may encounter whether it be at home, in the workplace, or at school. Gut wrenching statistics and stacked odds were shared, shaking much of the Committee to its core. But, there was hope. As the Committee reviewed, the cycle of heartbreak was met with hope, page after page, as they learned just how hard each organization is working to break the cycle for these resilient women and children. Through a rigorous and fully anonymous review, the Committee was elated to award $12,000 to Genesis Women’s Shelter and $9,500 to Jonathan’s Place. These grants will mean more shelter and safety, along with therapy and resources, for more than 320 women and children. During the Covid-19 lockdown, to ensure the safety of all involved, this Fund awarded its grants via the Foundation’s first ever virtual check presentations – large check and all!

First Responders Appreciation Fund

As peaceful protests took place in Dallas this Summer, we knew that to ensure the safety of all involved, officers needed to be hydrated and nourished. So many of you responded and, because of your generosity, the immediate needs of the Dallas Police Department were met.

Together, the Foundation’s First Responders Appreciation Fund and individual donations provided 60 dinners, 585 lunches (100 of those directly provided by a fundholder!) and hundreds of beverages.

Any donations received moving forward will be credited to the First Responders Appreciation Fund for future initiatives, including holiday trays this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Elia Gurvetch Vision Assistance Fund

In 1969, a man walked into a lawyer’s office with a shoe string for a belt and half a million dollars for charity. Mr. Elia Gurvetch did not worry himself with buying clothes or flashy things. He cared more about helping others. He had two requests: establish an annuity for two orphans who were in the news at that time…and create a Fund to help the visually impaired. The children’s lives were enriched just as he had hoped and now, for more than half a century, The Elia Gurvetch Vision Assistance Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation grants thousands of dollars each year to help the visually impaired.  

This year, the Elia Gurvetch Vision Assistance Fund sponsored the team of Jessica Stone and Genio, a black Labrador Retriever. This is Jessica’s second Guide Dog. Because of Mr. Gurvetch’s generosity and planning, we had the great opportunity to see Genio graduate from puppy school and guide dog training and to watch as he accompanied Jessica home to Denton. Jessica, a member of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni Board and president of the GDB Alumni chapter in Dallas, is a therapist and works as assistant director of the Office of Disabilities at the University of North Texas, with Genio always at her side.

Jessica Stone with Genio

Gurvetch, a Russian immigrant who fled his homeland in the early part of the 20th century to escape anti-Jewish pogroms, never married or had a family. He lived alone in South Dallas where many Jewish families once lived. Mr. Gurvetch’s enduring legacy provides services to the visually impaired, including pairing two needy recipients per year with trained guide dogs, one in the Metroplex and one in Israel. The Elia Gurvetch Vision Assistance Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation will continue to give in perpetuity all because of one humble and incredibly generous individual who saw people whose needs he could help fill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to explore how to combine your life passions while honoring your family’s legacy and charitable goals, please contact Mona Allen, the DJCF’s Director of Philanthropic Relations. Email mallen@djcf.org or call (214) 615-5268.