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By Guest Blogger Roberta Fahn Schoffman, CEO MindSet Strategic Consulting.
Just two days after Rosh Hashana a wonderful outdoor evening at the home of Jay and Shira Ruderman in Rehovot was held to honor Jay’s parents, Mort and Marcia Ruderman. Sadly, as many of you may know, shortly upon his return to the US, Mort passed away. The joy he expressed that evening in the wonderful work in Israel that the Ruderman Family Foundation was doing, and the many blessings he receives from his loving family, is all the more poignant in retrospect.
That evening in Rehovot had been a special tribute to Mort and Marcia Ruderman, who as founders of the Foundation also provided a powerful model for the next generation – including Jay and Shira, and Mort and Marcia’s daughter Sharon Shapiro and her husband Rony, who accompanied them from Boston, and several grandchildren.
More than 100 guests included government and public officials, heads of philanthropic organizations and nearly two dozen non-profit grantees of the Foundation. Throughout the evening, Mort and Marcia were toasted for the rich tradition of service they inspired across two continents. I am sure that I speak for all in attendance that night when I say how grateful we are to have had the opportunity to meet Mort in Israel, and to thank him personally for the countless contributions that he and his family have made to so many.
Since moving to Israel in 2006, Jay and Shira have followed the Ruderman path, becoming deeply involved in a wide spectrum of activities across the country. High on their agenda are efforts on behalf of those with disabilities, improving the Israel-American Jewish relationship, working with Druze college students and upgrading Israeli philanthropy. As people spoke about the Rudermans during dinner, the stories they shared underscored the great impact the Foundation has made in a very short time.
Minister of Environment Gilad Erdan referred to the partnership between the Foundation and his ministry in a ground-breaking recycling project in the city of Arad. Former Minister of Social Services and Knesset Member Isaac Herzog spoke of the Foundation’s robust contribution to the issue of disabilities in Israel. And JDC-Israel Director General Arnon Mantver praised the inroads and new culture that Shira and Jay have introduced into Israel’s philanthropic scene.
In addition, five members of Knesset who were among the first graduates of the Ruderman Fellows Program last spring were also in attendance. This innovative project is designed to strengthen ties and understanding between Israeli political leaders and the American Jewish community by taking Knesset Members to the US for an intensive week of meetings and conversations. The Fellows included Knesset Members Avi Dichter and Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), Carmel Shama and Tsipi Hotoveli (Likud) and Danny Ben Simon (Labor). Dichter, who is the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), explained that traveling to the US as a Ruderman Fellow was the first time he came to listen and not to lecture.
Dichter also thanked Jay and Shira for their leadership in another project very close to his heart: ExcelHT – Excellence in Education toward High Technology that provides academic scholarships to promising young Druze men and women and job placement within Israeli’s fast-growing hi-tech community.
One could not leave the evening without a strong impression of the real difference that the Rudermans, both in Israel and in America, are making and will continue to make. The grantee organizations that attended would no doubt agree: American Israel EducationFoundation (AIEF); Amit L’mishpacha; bat Ami; Beit Issie Shapiro; Bizchut, Gvanim; Israel Democracy Institute (IDI); JDC; Jewish Funders Network (JFN); JFNA; Kamah; Kesher; Kishorit; Krembo Wings; Lotem; Shalheveth; Shutaf; The ISEF Foundation; The Israel Project and Tnuat Or.
May the memory of Mort Ruderman continue to be for a blessing.
— Roberta Fahn Schoffman