After the sudden passing of Rabbi James S. Diamond in 2013, his family wanted to do something meaningful in his memory. They set up a five-year memorial lecture series, a partnership of the Princeton University Judaic Studies department and the Center for Jewish Life where Diamond served as executive director for nine years.
But the family wanted to do more, something lasting that would both memorialize Diamond and pass on his values to his grandchildren. Judy Diamond, of Princeton, recalled learning that one doesn’t have to be wealthy to open a donor advised fund. Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, she has experience with a fund in memory of her parents at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. By creating a fund in her husband’s memory at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, she recognized an opportunity to achieve three goals: provide grants to organizations with which Jim identified, encourage friends to contribute, and create a philanthropic tradition that will span across the generations.
Judy Diamond established the Rabbi James S. Diamond Memorial Fund with her children – Gila and Alan Shusterman of Chevy Chase, Maryland; Etan and Judy Diamond of Efrat, Israel; and Shifra Diamond of New York City.
In the years since the fund was established, the Diamonds’ family and friends have marked special occasions by making contributions to add to the fund. Judy Diamond’s goal was to encourage her grandchildren – now in their teens and early 20s – to take the lead in recommending grants to be given from the fund.
This spring, with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, Judy Diamond challenged her grandchildren to identify nonprofits in need due to the impact of COVID-19. They took the assignment seriously and recommended three organizations to receive grants.
Jordan, Rebecca and David Shusterman recognized that months of quarantine have led to a sharp uptick in reports of domestic violence. They researched organizations in their area and recommended a grant to My Sister’s Place in Washington, DC, which shelters, supports and empowers survivors of domestic violence.
Eli, Shira and Avi Diamond chose to support Pantry Packers, a program of Tzedakah Central/Colel Chabad, which delivers crates of food and necessities to the neediest households in Israel. In 2016, the Diamond family had celebrated Avi’s Bar Mitzvah by serving as Pantry Packers, repackaging wholesale products into family-size portions. Now, their donation will help feed hungry families touched by the economic effects of the pandemic.
A third grant was suggested by grandson Eli who joined his grandfather Jim years ago as he delivered meals with the Kosher Meals on Wheels program at Greenwood House in Ewing. That experience made an impression on Eli, and he recommended a grant to Greenwood House in support of life-sustaining meals for homebound seniors.
Judy Diamond could not be prouder of her grandchildren. They understood how meaningful it was to have and use the family’s donor advised fund to support needy causes. As Rebecca Shusterman said, “It’s a privilege that we have a fund set up to make donations. If you have the ability to give back, you should – now, more than ever.”
Judy Diamond is assured that the cherished core Jewish value of helping others has been embraced and passed from one generation to the next.
To learn more about donor advised funds at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, contact Amy Zacks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-524-4374. Visit www.foundationjewish.org.
- This article was submitted by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer.