Mike Leven is known as an “industry icon” and a “marketing genius” who has achieved great success by finding solutions to difficult problems. But after creating donor advised funds for his children, Mike’s wife, Andrea, asked him the following question and for once, he didn’t have a response:
“How do you know the kids are going to spend their money Jewishly?”
Andrea and Mike give largely to Jewish and Israeli causes, but would the next generation keep Mike and Andrea’s legacy alive? Mike’s response: “I don’t know if they will,” was an issue that Mike knew he had to address.
That moment ignited the idea for the Jewish Future Pledge and formed one of its basic pillars – how do you help people ensure that their legacy aligns with their life and that the money they leave to charity continues to fund things that were important to them during their lifetime?
The second pillar of the Pledge came from Mike’s grandfather, who helped Jews in need even when he didn’t have much. We support other causes as we are part of a community, but at the end of the day, if Jews don’t support Jewish causes, no one else will.
The final foundational pillar said that EVERYONE has a stake in the Jewish future, regardless of whether you are leaving $10 or $10 million to Jewish causes in your will.
Amy Holtz was living a successful life with a big business, a husband on Wall Street, and 3 adorable kids. Life seemed great. When a friend dragged her to a Torah class, and the speaker uttered the words: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there”, everything changed. She realized she didn’t have a bigger goal; she didn’t know the purpose of all she had accomplished.
As she learned more Torah and realized her lifestyle wouldn’t lead her to deep fulfillment, she made Judaism central to their lives, sold her business and has been working with in the Jewish non-profit world ever since. Like Mike, she realized that the Jewish future was at stake.
When Mike came to Amy with his idea to create the Jewish Future Pledge, she went all in for two reasons:
She saw the magnitude of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity due to the record worldwide intergenerational wealth transfer over the next 25 years.
She knew that families that tell stories of both their successes and their ability to bounce back from challenges are not only happier families, but may also increase their odds of thriving for generations to come. As such, sharing your story is the greatest gift you can give your children and the Jewish future.
They launched the Jewish Future Pledge which asks people to commit 50% or more of the charitable dollars in their wills to Jewish or Israeli causes. The Jewish Future Pledge includes three steps: Sign it. Seal it. Share it. Individuals and families commit to the pledge, legalize it in their will, and then tell their family and friends what the pledge means to them and why it reflects their values. Having the conversations that matter, writing legacy letters and ethical wills ensures that these values are preserved for future generations.