Elections and Legacies

28 October 2020

As I mailed in my ballot a few weeks ago, I felt a rush of feelings: Pride and gratitude to participate in the democratic process. Trepidation about the uncertainty of the outcome — and indeed the integrity of the process. And hope — because on election day, regular people really can be the change they want to see in the world. As I cast my vote in this most consequential election of our lifetimes, I couldn’t help but reflect on the profound power of the act of voting — the sacred civic responsibility and fundamental affirmation of our democratic values and principles.

When I cast my ballot, I also thought about my kids, the eldest of whom voted for the first time this month, and what this one, small yet profound democratic act means for the kind of future we are building for them. It’s about the legacy we create for them.

I have been thinking a lot about legacy these days. In the wake of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg z”l, many of us have been thinking about what this means for the values she championed during her years on the Court — equality, fairness, and justice for all — and how they can endure after she is gone. Her inspiring career as a lawyer, an advocate, and a Supreme Court Justice left an indelible legacy in this country.

Earlier this month, the New Israel Fund received a beautiful gift from Justice Ginsburg. When I found out, I wrote to you to tell you how deeply and profoundly moving I found this gesture.

Justice Ginsburg had been honored by the National Constitution Center, and in her final days, she decided to divide the monetary prize “among the institutions and organizations that meant the most to her,” including the New Israel Fund.

Justice Ginsburg choose to honor the work of the New Israel Fund as part of her legacy, and we will do our part to honor her memory and her legacy by working every day for equality and democracy in Israel.

As the New Israel Fund celebrated our fortieth anniversary, we started a conversation with you about our legacy. We wanted to make sure that NIF continues to advance democracy and equality in Israel for our next forty years and beyond. We set an ambitious goal to raise $40 million in estate gift commitments.

So many of you were moved to join our campaign as you made plans for the mark your philanthropy will make on future generations. Because of that generosity, as we reached and surpassed our original goal, we decided to increase our 40th Anniversary Legacy Campaign goal to $50 million — $50 million to ensure that the fight for equality and democracy in Israel can continue long into the future.

Reaching our initial goal relied on a combination of commitments from dedicated supporters to include NIF in their wills, trusts, or other estate planning vehicles and bequests.

At a time when many organizations face uncertainty about the future, this outpouring of generosity is a testament to the dedication of NIF donors — and to their trust in NIF and commitment to democracy and equality in Israel.

Justice Ginsburg famously said: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

No matter what the future holds, we will always strive to do just that.