Investing in Community: Local Congregations Partner with Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation | Shalom Austin

Investing in Community: Local Congregations Partner with Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation

Jewish Foundation, The Jewish Outlook

Mar 7, 2023

By Allison Teegardin 

Established in 2014, the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation currently has more than 160 funds with an accumulative value of nearly $14.7 million dollars, not including the $8.6 million dollars that has been granted out into the community since inception. 

The Foundation helps sustain a vibrant and secure Jewish community, now and for future generations. Guided by Jewish values and the individual interests of donors and organizations, the Foundation provides an opportunity to make a lasting impact through philanthropy in the name of the Jewish community, at home in Austin and around the world. 

Congregation Tiferet Israel 

Congregation Tiferet Israel recently opened its first fund with the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation, joining Congregation Agudas Achim, Congregation Beth Israel and Temple Beth Shalom all of which have existing funds established. 

Alana Pompa, president of the board at Congregation Tiferet Israel said the decision to open a fund with the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation came after emerging through the challenges presented by COVID. “We had to evaluate our processes and finding profitable and smart ways to invest our money topped the list so a finance committee was formed to look at the options,” Pompa said. The congregation had a fund established at another institution though it wasn’t performing as well as they believed it should be. “We want to ensure we are being fiscally responsible and investing our money in the most beneficial way for the congregation. I learned about the foundation at an information session and brought the idea to the committee to consider. The committee was able to speak directly with the foundation to get more information and have all their questions answered,” Pompa added. Once the committee was confident the fund was a financially sound decision, the fund was opened. However, there was one more reason to celebrate. 

Pompa states that another charter as president is making sure the congregation are active members of the Austin Jewish community. “We see investing our funds as investing in our congregants as well as the entire Jewish community.” As a campus partner with Shalom Austin, Congregation Tiferet Israel is watching the booming expansion of the Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center front and center and they are proud to be part of it. “We are more invested in the community than we have ever been and it’s very exciting,” Pompa said. 

Congregation Beth Israel 

The first local congregation to establish a fund with the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation was Congregation Beth Israel, having previously managed their endowments and funds separately. CBI has a total of seven funds, ranging from operations and permanent endowment funds to those set up for specific purposes such as youth education and mental health support. Lori Adelman, president of the board at CBI says these funds allow the congregation to keep critical programming and support services available for members. 

“Partnering with the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation was an easy and financially responsible action, not only for the congregation but for the greater Austin Jewish community, Adelman said. “One of the keys to living in Austin where the Jewish population is smaller than in many other cities is supporting the community in intentional ways. It is up to the community to help keep these critical programs going. We all need to be supportive of each other and succeed together.” 

Recognizing that much of the congregation’s usual fundraising has been shifted since the devastating arson attack in October 2021, having these existing funds established has helped maintain the congregation’s needs during difficult times. 

Temple Beth Shalom 

In 2021, Temple Beth Shalom’s finance committee was evaluating prospective investment opportunities when Mike Siegel, co-treasurer for Temple Beth Shalom was introduced to the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation by a friend who was on the committee. At a meeting with Shalom Austin senior development director, Amy Hyman, Siegel learned about the foundation and the benefits of having a fund there. The details were presented to the committee for a vote and the decision to open a fund for the benefit of the congregation passed. “We were looking at what would best fit the needs for an endowment fund which is more passive and can take a long-term perspective and the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation met the criteria in terms of this type of fund. The foundation is local, they were able to answer questions and provide data and the level of customer support is very high,” Siegel said. “We may get similar services elsewhere, though our partnership with the foundation supports the Jewish community which is also very important.” 

Steve Fintel, president of the board at Temple Beth Shalom noted that members of the finance committee were skilled financial professionals, and all agreed that the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation possessed the same fundamental investment principles as other financial managers used. “Not only was the foundation professionally managed, but it had also well-stated and executed goals. This was a smart choice transactionally and it also demonstrated Temple Beth Shalom’s support of the Austin Jewish community.” 

In 2022, a second fund was opened in honor of Rabbi Alan and Lori Freedman, in support of Temple youth, called the Rabbi Alan and Lori Freedman Future Fund. 

Congregation Agudas Achim 

Congregation Agudas Achim opened an endowment fund at Austin Community Foundation, the fiduciary partner of Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation, 10 years ago. Several years ago, they moved this fund under the Jewish Foundation umbrella and then decided to open another fund. Gary Susswein, President of the Board at Congregation Agudas Achim, was part of the planning process. When asked what it means for CAA to have a partnership with the Foundation, Susswein said, “We realize we are part of a larger and broader Jewish community in Austin and are always looking for ways to strengthen the entire community with our decisions. Opening another fund with the Foundation furthers that goal.” 

In addition to being a supportive member of the Austin Jewish community, the planning committee also knew it was important to place their funds somewhere they could grow, and the congregation could maintain oversight. Noting that Austin Community Foundation, providing investment management for the Jewish Foundation, has a strong reputation and track record, Susswein said, “The funds we raise and place in ACF through SAJF help ensure our future. They help us continue to reach our growing membership who are spread out all over the Austin area.” 

In addition to providing support for Austin area congregations and other Jewish community partners, the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation is an incredible vehicle to help individuals and families manage and plan their philanthropy. 

To learn more about how donor advised funds can help simplify giving and maximize impact, consider attending an upcoming information session, held on zoom on March 23 at 12:00 p.m. or March 28 at 7:30 p.m. To RSVP, email foundation@shalomaustin.org. 

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