Foundation at 40
The way of the willIn 1988, when the JCF was still in its “infancy”, planned giving was an unheard of term. The Foundation was built on will bequests by people who wished to leave a legacy to their community. Many of them were unknown to the Foundation during their lifetime and, as a result, could not be recognized and honoured while they lived.
So when the JCF received a $375,000 bequest from the late Johnny Baker, it was a welcome surprise and one of the largest bequests in its history at the time. For Johnny, it was giving back to the community that was his family.
An orphan at 8 years old, he and his brothers Sam, Harry and Frank, were placed in the Montreal Hebrew Orphans Home. When Johnny was 16, he joined the navy, fighting in WW2 aboard the battleship Uganda.
After the war, he worked in the jewellery business. Shy, gentle and kind, he derived great personal satisfaction from quietly and discreetly helping people open their own jewellery businesses. Never married, Johnny enjoyed the love and admiration of his many friends and family.
“Johnny was the nicest and sweetest guy in the world,” his late brother Harry told us at the time.
“He would do anything for anyone.
He was that kind of man.”
Johnny Baker died in 1988. In his Will he provided for the establishment of the Johnny Baker Memorial Fund – an undesignated fund, the proceeds of which would fund new and innovative programs reviewed by the Foundation’s allocations committee. Johnny’s legacy is an immeasurable gift to future generations in the community he loved.
Aaron Schulmann passed away on December 20, 1995. He was not very well known. It was difficult to find a minyan at his funeral services.
His life was not joyous. Born in Romania, he and his family were forced to hide in the forests to avoid the Nazi occupationers. His father died in Aaron’s arms, of starvation.Liberation by the Allies was bittersweet. He was sent to a gulag in Siberia where he suffered both physically and psychologically.
Escape finally led him to freedom in Argentina where he worked as an insurance salesman, never marrying. In the late 1960's he moved to Montreal to take care of his ailing mother.
“Aaron Schulmann represents the sometimes horrible responsibility of being Jewish,” says JCF Executive Director, Robert Kleinman.
“He also represents what has kept us going for three thousand years-
survival and the ability to look to a better tomorrow.”
Aaron Schulmann’s last act was to leave his estate to the Jewish Community Foundation. His was not the largest bequest we will ever receive; but it may be our most important. It illustrates the act of looking to build a better tomorrow a tomorrow of Jewish continuity.
To all our early donors like Johnny and Aaron who were men and women of vision: Thank you. We wish we could have known you.
From will bequest to planned giving and beyond More on the evolution of Jewish philanthropy.
It's our 40th!