Growing up in the tight-knit Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina, Ellen Arnovitz learned early on that serving, leading, and giving were priorities in her family. All four of her grandparents were immigrants from Russia and Poland. “We were not the big givers in our community,” she says, “but we were always involved. My father was a synagogue president. My Aunt was the first woman president of our local Federation.”
In her teen years, Ellen’s leadership role in the southern region BBYO chapter frequently brought her to Atlanta. “I absolutely loved the energy and vibrancy of the big city!” She eventually moved to Atlanta and raised her family here. Today she is the proud matriarch of a blended family of 13 grandchildren, 11 of whom live in Atlanta, and two in London. More and more, leaving a legacy is on her mind.
“My kids are the beneficiaries of everything this Jewish community offers — our Jewish day schools, Jewish camps, the MJCCA, and our synagogues. How could I not put my energy into making sure that these organizations survive and thrive for future generations? Through Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY initiative, I’ve enjoyed helping people think creatively about how to structure legacy gifts.”
“We’ve all seen those astonishing stories about people of modest means who steadily put aside funds for something they cared about, and then when they passed, they made incredibly meaningful gifts. You don’t have to be wealthy or old to leave a legacy, you simply have to have the intention. That’s why it’s so rewarding to speak with young couples who are still saving for college and building their nest-egg and explain that they can project their generosity forward. When I tell them that a small life insurance policy set aside today as a legacy gift can grow into something big in 50 years, they get excited.”
Years ago, as a participant in the Wexner Heritage leadership cohort, Ellen wrote an ethical will. “It was the first time I really thought about legacy giving. It made me reflect on what values I wanted my kids to remember and was very clarifying.”
“I continually ask myself, why am I so lucky? When you have had a full and blessed life like mine, you want to share and invest in the community’s future. It not only helps to build a vibrant Jewish community for future generations, it enriches your life now. Through I have learned that sharing is a mindset. Giving back to the community and helping others is the legacy I want to pass on to my children.”