BY NIGEL ROSS
I’m very proud to say that the UK Jewish community has a deserved reputation for being very generous in its support of charities. Over the course of our lifetimes, when you add all donations we make, UK Jewry give tens, if not, hundreds of millions of pounds to good causes.
Speaking personally, I’ve been involved with charities since my late teens. I even met my wife through a charity committee (though that’s a story for another time). And over the last 15 years or so, I’ve spent an increasing amount of time working for charities in the UK and the USA.
I’m far from the only person I know who is so involved in charity work. In fact, it doesn’t seem to make a difference what our political views, our personal wealth, or our level of religious observance might be, Jews in the UK as a whole seem to share an overriding desire to help our community thrive and prosper. And we’re more than willing to put our hands in our pockets to make it happen.
But, perhaps, surprisingly, we’re not so good when it comes to remembering the causes we support in our lifetime, with gifts in our Wills.
Yet Jewish charities are hugely dependent on gifts in Wills to keep up their vital work. That’s why I’m so honoured to be part of Jewish Legacy Giving. It’s a brilliantly simple campaign that exists to remind members of our community to remember their favourite Jewish charities after their lifetime, with a gift in their Will.
Jewish Legacy Giving is the first cross-communal campaign of its size and scale. It shows how everyone can play their part to strengthen our community by working together, from the biggest charities to the smallest – wherever they are based in the UK or abroad. It’s important for another reason too: I wanted to be part of Jewish Legacy as I truly believed in its value to the future prosperity of the Jewish Community, and, in particular, as it was the only way for some of the smaller charities to have their own legacy campaign. We now represent some 50 charity partners all working as a team to explain to every member of the Jewish community just how important it is that they include a gift to charity in their Will. You see, many members of our community simply don’t realise just how many worthy Jewish charities there are, or what a broad spectrum they cover.
But because we have so many charity partners, I’m sure that Jewish Legacy Giving can help everyone find the right cause to support with a gift in their Will.
From a personal point of view, I feel very strongly that every one of us should give something back to the community in our Will. For me, the simple fact of leaving a legacy is more important than the size of the legacy we leave.
I know from my own experience that there are many other members of our community who feel the same way. And I’m certain that everyone who does, will find that at least some of the causes our member charities deal with will resonate with them.
My involvement with Jewish Legacy Giving – initially as Chairman, and now as President has enabled me to see at first hand just how blessed we are as a community to have so many charities aiming to help people who are less fortunate than us in the UK, Israel and the rest of the world.
In the course of my work, I’ve also been lucky enough to meet some of the wonderful dedicated people who are involved with our charity partners both professionally and as volunteers. They desperately need all the help they can get and gifts in supporters’ Wills play an enormously important part in helping them keep up their vital work.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying, that when it comes to planning my estate, my family comes first. But I believe I would be failing in my duty to my children and grandchildren if I did not leave a worthwhile amount to charity too.
I also believe that this is the best way that we can set a practical example to those who come after us that charity is a fundamental part of Jewish life. Our heirs need to remember that they too have a duty to carry on our legacy, and play their part in the world of Jewish charity life.
And if our generation doesn’t show them, who will?