A native of Long Island, New York, Valerie Weitzner grew up in a community with a strong Jewish presence and two hardworking parents. She noticed that her parents always made small philanthropic donations to charities that had personal meaning to them. This was the spark that ignited a lifelong path of philanthropy for Valerie — a value that she’s now passing on to her own children. Valerie and her husband Peter, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, established the habit of giving early in their marriage and were committed to developing a strong Jewish identity for their children.
After moving to Atlanta, they became members of Temple Sinai. Eventually, both daughters, Gillian, now a high school senior, and Zoe, a college sophomore, attended religious school at Congregation Or Hadash. Valerie expressed that it was “very important to give our girls the Jewish education we never had access to growing up.” The family-centered approach to Jewish education at Congregation Or Hadash inspired Valerie to become a Bat Mitzvah along with her youngest daughter Gillian.
“We have an amazing community in Atlanta. I’ve made friends with so many smart, warm and generous women and families in the community here,” Valerie said. Those connections have led to mission trips abroad, board involvement, and philanthropic opportunities for their entire family.
Over the years, the Weitzners have used their Donor-Advised Fund to make charitable donations to a far-reaching list of organizations, including AIPAC, Atlanta Scholars Kollel, Alzheimer’s Association, Birthright, Congregation Or Hadash, Friends of the IDF, Jewish Educational Loan Fund (JELF), Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Planned Parenthood, Temple Sinai, the Zaban Couples Center, and many others. And they’ve kept their girls in the loop every step of the way.
Just before Hanukkah last year, Valerie was inspired to give her daughters Donor-Advised Funds to manage on their own. “Peter and I have laid the groundwork for our girls to take philanthropy into their own hands and enjoy seeing them become engaged,” Valerie said. Recently, Peter and Zoe met in Washington, D.C. to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference together. The Weitzners have taken their daughters on two trips to Israel, and Zoe will travel with a group of summer camp friends to Israel on Birthright this summer. It’s a source of pride to see all their years of charitable giving, volunteerism and community involvement being reflected in their daughters’ philanthropic priorities.
“We chose DAFs for the girls because it captures all donations in one place and makes tracking charitable gifts simpler for all of us,” said Valerie. The option to see fund balances and recommend grants online will make it easy for Gillian and Zoe to manage their philanthropic involvement and take it to the next level.
As Valerie and Peter look forward to becoming empty-nesters, they’re exploring ways to take their philanthropic involvement to new heights. Later this year, they’ll participate in Fisher FLIGHT — a program for couples that combines Jewish learning with immersive experiences over a 12-month period including a mission trip to Israel, to encourage deeper involvement by showcasing the impact of philanthropic investments in Jewish and Israeli causes.
The Weitzners anticipate future opportunities to enhance their family’s charitable giving options with the help of Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s philanthropic advisory services. Valerie said “Peter and I are entering the next chapter of our life looking for causes to support and ways to make a difference in Atlanta and around the world.”