53 The Tidewater Jewish Foundation was created in 1984 to establish deep roots of philanthropy that would bear fruit for future generations. Its formation made it possible for individuals to fulfill their philanthropic intent and to enrich their lives through tzedakah.

The origins of the Foundation, however, go back much farther to 1969 when a grass-roots campaign to collect letters of intent and help strengthen the community’s future began. Over the next five years, more than 200 letters of intent were collected and the Endowment Fund of the local United Jewish Communities was created.

By 1980, the Endowment Fund reached the million-dollar mark. Donor-Advised and Memorial Funds were established by members of the community as a means to enjoy spiritual and emotional rewards, and to create a mechanism for the distribution of funds in a tax-favored manner.

When the Fund grew to $2 million by 1984, it formally became known as the Tidewater Jewish Foundation, which distributed its earnings annually in support of the Annual Campaign and the Federation’s agencies. With only a small staff, TJF grew to over $11 million by 1993. More importantly, however, was that over $1 million was being gifted each year to worthy causes as distributions from Donor-Advised Funds and grants from the Foundation’s unrestricted assets.

The Foundation was incorporated in 1992 and recognized as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. With such excellent growth and the potential to raise more money for Jewish causes, the community’s leadership approved the creation of the first Jewish Community Foundation in the U.S. that included under its umbrella recipient and constituent agencies and synagogues, in addition to its support of UJFT.  
Subsequently, with the addition of the endowment component of the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula, it became advantageous for TJF to become a totally separate entity with an autonomous Board of Directors.

The Foundation ascribes to the Federation’s  responsibility for community planning while accepting  the responsibility to raise, grow and distribute funds for local, national, and  overseas Jewish needs.  The services provided by Foundation staff and leadership during the entire process leading up to the opening of the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus, for instance, exemplify the highest level of mutual commitment.

Keeping the welfare of the community always as a top priority, TJF serves as the planned giving development arm of the community, acting as an “honest broker” to coordinate the varied interests of donors and prospects. This belief has been repeatedly confirmed by donors who seem to prefer one combined development organization rather than experience the probability of multiple solicitations. 

Throughout the 90’s, the Foundation was growing so rapidly that it expanded its staff and board to better serve the needs of donors and the community.  The Tidewater Jewish Foundation continues to provide an opportunity for individuals to invest in the preservation and enhancement of the Jewish community here and around the world.

 TJF sees itself as a true partner with both local Federation and all of its Affiliates. Working together, the Foundation continues to embrace its mission to create permanent resources to support the Jewish tradition of L’dor V’dor – from generation to generation.

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