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July 30, 2014 By:
Jill and Howard Zipin: Putting Philanthropy in the Household Budget
Jill and Howard Zipin sit down together each year to budget how much they are able to allot to philanthropic organizations that are meaningful to them.
Federation is high on the list, as is their synagogue, Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen, and the Abramson Center for Jewish Life, where Jill’s mom received excellent skilled nursing care for more than a decade.
“Howard and I consider this as essential an expense as our mortgage,” says Jill, who believes that if everyone set aside a little something in their budgets, “it would make a real difference in our collective ability to touch the lives of our fellow Jews.”
Charitable giving is a value that Jill learned from her parents. A native of Northeast Philadelphia, Jill has fond memories of watching her father, a high school guidance counselor, write small checks to a number of organizations, both Jewish and secular.
“Both my parents believed that they had an obligation to support our Jewish community to the best of their ability,” she recalls.
Although they were of modest means, Jill’s mom and dad valued education and found money in the family budget to send Jill to the George School in Newtown.
“Although the school was run by Quakers, it emphasized talmudic values,” she says. “I learned early on that each of us have an obligation to repair the world.”
This is a value that Jill and Howard have passed on to their daughters, 15-year-old Samantha and 12-year-old Rachel. Both girls have taken this commitment to tikkun olam to heart.
In preparation for her Bat Mitzvah, Samantha volunteered for a year at the Abramson Center. She worked one on one with a woman with memory loss issues who did not have family in the area.
“Samantha spent a great deal of time with her new friend, reading and talking together,” Jill says. She also donated 10 percent of the money she received from her Bat Mitzvah gifts to the Mitzvah Food Project.
Rachel, who became a Bat Mitzvah in June, raised more than $1,600 for the Mitzvah Food Project and is donating 10 percent of all gifts she received in celebration of this special milestone.
Both girls attend Penn Charter school, where community service is part of the curriculum. “I am so proud of their volunteer efforts with young children in North Philadelphia, mentoring them and helping them with homework,” their mom says.
Jill credits her close friend and fellow Beth Or congregant, Robin Zappin, with getting her involved in Federation. “Robin encouraged me to become involved with Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy affinity where I met a great group of women who shared my commitment to Jewish communal causes.”
Jill participated in the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Training program and was invited to sit on the Committee for the Jewish Poor. Here, she learned about how Federation helps low-income older adults live independently and remain connected to their communities.
She is also a member of Women of Vision, the Jewish women’s foundation of Federation, and serves on the board of Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council. As chair of JCRC’s Domestic Affairs Division, she enjoys the opportunity to educate the Jewish community about the need for a Jewish response to gun violence, immigration reform and hunger.
Jill says the couple’s decision to name Federation as a beneficiary in their will was a simple one.
“Federation has the unique ability to assess community needs and allocate dollars to those agencies best able to deliver services to those who need it most,” she says.“Federation will be there to address the issues and concerns of our people locally, in Israel and around the world."
The Zipins bequest entered them into Federation’s Legacy Society.
“Our legacy gift is our way to ensure that our commitment to helping to change the world continues beyond our lifetime and our daughters’ lifetime.”