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Advocating for the Future

Donors Invest Through Planned Giving

By Miller Oberman

Donors Edmund A. and Arlene Grossman discuss planned giving, clean water and tikkun olam.

Edmund A. and Arlene Grossman, donors through AJWS’s new planned giving program, are part of a growing number of people in the Jewish community who hope to leave a lasting legacy in the area of global justice.

When I asked what drew them to AJWS, Ed said that they “have been very much taken with the idea of Jews being involved with social justice and trying to provide it to all people. That strikes a responsive chord with us, the concept of tikkun olam.”

The Grossmans are particularly passionate about the work that many AJWS grantees are doing to advocate for water rights. During a trip to India, Arlene became very aware of the lack of proper sanitation in the slums. “The situation with water there was terrible,” she told me. “Often the same water was used for drinking and bathing, and all purposes. Water waste ran through the streets—it was very bad. Water is the core of everything; it’s so basic and so significant,” she said. “Access to clean water should be available to all.”

The Grossmans are also drawn to AJWS because so many AJWS grantees empower women. “Women tend to accomplish more than men,” Ed said, “and it’s incredibly important because they’re also the ones giving birth to the next generation. It’s important that they get fresh water, overcome poverty and stay healthy.”

When asked why they chose to give to AJWS through planned giving—designating AJWS as a beneficiary in their will—Ed remarked: “We do not have children, which changes things dramatically. Most people place primary importance on taking care of their descendants. We will be supporting our family, but the bulk of our estate will go to charities that we think can make real change in the world. We spent a great deal of time thinking about it—we hope these things will help the world in the future.”

Arlene added that they “hope AJWS continues to do the wonderful things it has been doing and will succeed in doing these things in the chaotic world we live in. It’s very difficult to make change and we think AJWS will accomplish change.”

I suggested that because they had no children of their own, the couple were—in a sense—taking into account the future of the whole world. The Grossmans didn’t seem to want to take credit for that kind of poetic thinking; they are just trying to make a difference.

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About AJWS

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community.

AJWS has received an “A” rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy since 2004 and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for nine years. AJWS also meets all 20 of Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability.


Join the chorus on Global Voices, AJWS’s new blog about grassroots development and global justice.

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