Portrait of Philanthropy
By Pnina Baim
“Progressive” and “innovative” are key elements that Drs. Felix and Miriam Glaubach look for when deciding whether to support a program.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the visionary couple is behind NCSY’s newest revolutionary initiative: the Shevet Glaubach Fellows. “Miriam and I are honored to be part of an NCSY program that brings young men and women closer to Hashem, and that strengthens our hopes and our people. This is exactly what Jewish homes need,” says Dr. Felix Glaubach.
Having received a donation of $5 million from the Glaubachs, NCSY is embarking on the creation of a unique fellowship program to train the next generation of Jewish leaders. “This project is instrumental,” says Rina Emerson, NCSY Managing Director. “The Glaubachs are people who are looking at the long-term impact and want to affect leadership. NCSY has struggled with structuring advisor training and retainment in an organized and meaningful manner. The Shevet Glaubach Fellows project will enable us to do it.”
Influential donors, the Glaubachs, who live in Bal Harbour, Florida, are supporters of Yeshiva University, Shaare Tzedek Hospital and the Miriam Glaubach Center at Nishmat, among other important causes.
“They are very hands-on, invested donors,” says Lauren Bardos, Director of OU Women’s Leadership Initiatives, Southern NCSY. “They really care because they have vision. They are looking for programs that will create lasting change in the Jewish world and leaders for tomorrow.”
Having met on a blind date more than sixty years ago, the Glaubachs have spent decades investing in the Jewish community. The couple raised a beautiful family of six children, establishing a warm, loving family where the focus was on chesed and Jewish values. These values were not always easy to uphold, such as the time Felix, while serving in the US Army, was threatened with a court-martial for leaving the base on Friday in order to be home before Shabbat.
“My wife and I want to convey to our children how we give our philanthropy and build our legacy together. There is tremendous satisfaction in giving tzedakah. It gives us so much chizuk to be involved in such a cause.” —Dr. Felix Glaubach
While building their growing family, Miriam worked as a nurse and Felix was an orthodontist. Together with Felix, Miriam decided to launch a home care agency, Personal Touch Homecare. The agency was a family project with Miriam involved in every detail—including personally visiting homebound clients to show the aides how to maintain a kosher kitchen. Felix oversaw the marketing, and the children were brought into the business as well. Starting out forty years ago with three patients, the agency today services thousands.
“Miriam has the ability to do many things,” says Freda Greenbaum, Member of the OU Youth Commission who is a longtime friend. “But what she loves are the things most connected to Judaism and Jewish families.”
As Miriam is passionate about Jewish programming for women, Freda invited her and her daughter Tammy to a mentorship event for NCSY women. Miriam and Tammy were amazed at the level of intellectual energy in the room. This ignited a spark, and the Glaubachs soon realized NCSY could help them effect significant and dramatic change.
“My parents are visionaries who create change. If you want to dream, dream big,” Tammy told NCSY leadership who were in discussions with the Glaubachs about various funding opportunities.
“Dr. Felix Glaubach is a man of conviction who knows exactly what he wants,” says Rabbi Ben Gonsher, Southern NCSY Chief Relationship Officer, “yet he impresses all of us with his creativity, flexibility and openness to new opportunities.”
After several possibilities were explored, the Shevet Glaubach Fellows project was born. The fellowship will select the best from among the advisors to nurture and develop future Jewish leaders. “I learned from Dr. Glaubach what makes for a successful transformational project,” says Rabbi Gonsher. “Working with Dr. Glaubach has been great fun—he thinks on a grand scale.”
“This program brings young people together so they can build a stronger and greater community,” says Dr. Felix Glaubach. The Glaubachs are extremely proud of their children, Baruch, Esther, Tammy, Shulamit, Simeon, and Yonatan. They brought their children into every part of the planning of the Shevet Glaubach Fellows project, discussing the various developments as they arose. Some of the Glaubach children are currently on the project’s advisory board so that they can be involved in implementing their parents’ vision and overseeing the initiative for years to come.
“The Shevet Glaubach Fellows will transform our ability to strengthen and grow our pool of NCSY advisors and to train them better to inspire thousands of teens in their own path to a fuller Jewish life,” adds OU Executive Vice President Allen Fagin.
“We want our children to understand our goals for the project so they can continue to fulfill them,” says Dr. Felix Glaubach. “My wife and I want to convey to our children how we give our philanthropy and build our legacy together. There is tremendous satisfaction in giving tzedakah. It gives us so much chizuk to be involved in such a cause.”
Through a generous legacy gift of $50,000 from a living trust fund established by a couple who survived the Holocaust, Southern NCSY will be able to provide between five and seven additional scholarships to send students from Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy in Hollywood, Florida, to Israel this coming summer. A total of twenty-one teens from Ben Gamla, the only Hebrew charter high school in the United States, will participate in NCSY’s flagship summer program, The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ). Taking public school teens on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the land of Israel, TJJ combines the best of touring and fun with social action, political advocacy and Torah study, strengthening teens’ ties to Israel.
“Yachad is helping build bridges between individuals with autism and the technology that can improve their lives.” —Liz Offen, Director, Yachad New England
This past November, Yachad New England won the top prize—an $80,000 grant—at the Northeast Arc’s third annual Arc Tank Competition in Boston. One of four winners chosen out of nearly 100 submissions from across the US and around the globe, Yachad’s “4-A Club” (Autism, Aging, Alexa, Access) will combat social isolation in older adults with autism by adapting Alexa technology for low-verbal and non-verbal users. “The technology is out there. We want to bring it to a very marginalized population,” said Liz Offen, Director, Yachad New England. Northeast Arc and the Changing Lives Fund together seek creative ways to give people with disabilities equal opportunities and equal access to resources.
Continuing its generous support of Denver’s Jewish teen programs, the Rose Community Foundation granted $60,000 to underwrite the new Southeast Denver NCSY Chapter. Led by the newly appointed Director Rabbi Yonatan Nuszen, this expansion will provide learning experiences and activities to more Jewish teens, helping them forge a deep and abiding interest and connection with the Jewish community and with Israel. With the help of the Rose Community Foundation, over the past three years NCSY has established a vibrant, visible chapter in Denver, growing from an average membership of approximately 150 teens in 2017 to 300 in 2019. “The Rose Community Foundation has truly been a backbone for the growth of the Jewish community here in Denver,” said Rabbi Yisrael Katz, Denver NCSY Director, Southwest NCSY.
A SEFER TORAH FOR YACHAD
Thanks to Ken Saibel, Yachad’s Director of Institutional Advancement, and his family, Yachad is going to have its very own sefer Torah.
Ken and his wife Mindy, who were honored at the New Jersey Yachad Gala in January, inaugurated The Debby Cohen z”l Ahavat Chesed Fund, whose first campaign is the dedication of a sefer Torah for Yachad. The Torah will be housed at the Yachad/NJCD’s IVDU boy’s school, located in Brooklyn. It will travel to Yachad functions and events, including Shabbatons.
The fund and campaign are in honor of Mindy’s mother Debby, who had a deep love of Torah and spent her entire professional career as a teacher of individuals with special needs.
To sponsor a parashah or any part of the Torah, visit yachad.org/SeferTorah.
Portrait of Philanthropy
By Pnina Baim
Longtime OU leader Gustave Jacobs, who passed away in 2016, spent his life committed to building and strengthening klal Yisrael. A man who overcame much adversity, Gus was a young teen during World War II. His family fled their hometown of Cologne, Germany, eventually ending up in Switzerland, where, through Gus’s ingenuity, he entered university in Geneva. Upon moving to the United States, he met his wife Carol. The couple married and had two girls, Aviva and Judy.
Both Gus and Carol, who was also a German refugee, had been deprived of a formal Jewish education, and spent the rest of their lives making up for that loss. “Gus was extremely committed to Jewish education,” says Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Senior Managing Director. “He invested a lot in education because he felt that his generation would rebuild Torah in both the United States and Israel.”
Gus began selling Japanese pearls, a business that resulted in the family spending a few years in Geneva. As there weren’t any Jewish schools, Carol obtained a yeshivah high school’s curriculum and hired a tutor to teach their girls in the afternoon. “Our mother always said education never stops,” says Aviva.
Since Geneva did not have much Jewish infrastructure, Jewish visitors would often eat at the Jacobs’ home. One notable visitor back in the sixties was Rabbi Dr. Simon Raphael Weiss, the then executive vice president of the OU, who was a staunch advocate of Jewish education. The two spent a Shabbat together in the Jacobs’ home discussing the different pressing issues of the day, culminating in Gus being appointed the OU representative in Europe.
“Gustave and Carol were pioneers of kashrut in America, ensuring that for generations to come Jews in America, and subsequently around the world, have easy access to quality kosher food.”
—Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director, OU Israel
Once the family returned to the States, Gus continued his activism with the OU, becoming deeply involved in enhancing kashrut standards in America. “Gustave and Carol were pioneers of kashrut in America, ensuring that for generations to come Jews in America, and subsequently around the world, have easy access to quality kosher food,” says Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director, OU Israel.
“Kashrut spoke to my father,” says Aviva. Gus was a board member of the Yeshiva High School of Queens, which his children attended. “After the fall of the Soviet Union, many Russians moved to Queens and were lacking even the most basic knowledge of Judaism. Our mother became involved in the communal efforts to teach the students about kashrut, Shabbat, the holidays, whatever they needed,” says Aviva.
Carol was also devoted to every need of the Jewish community; she helped start the women’s chevra kadisha of Queens and was an active participant until her passing in 1983.
A few years later, Gus married Henriette Belfer, a woman with a big heart who was involved in many charitable causes as well. In recognition of their dedication to supporting OU efforts, in 2006 the OU dedicated the Henriette and Gustave Jacobs Chair in Kashrut Education. In 2011, the OU honored Gus with the Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual dinner.
Gus passed away in 2016, and his children are continuing their parents’ legacy of philanthropy and dedication to the klal. Thanks to the vision of Aviva and Joseph Hoch and Judy and Mark Frankel, this past fall, OU Israel established The Gustave and Carol Jacobs Center for Kashrut Education. Focusing on helping Anglo olim and tourists understand the complexities of kashrut in Israel, the Center will sponsor shiurim, workshops, videos, and other initiatives, including a kashrut curriculum created specifically for seminary and yeshivah students.
“The Jacobs Kashrut Center is a concrete realization of my parents’ legacy,” says Aviva. “Their passion for Jewish education, strengthening kashrut and helping their fellow Jews is embodied here in this partnership with the OU.”