Why I Chose to be an AJC Visionary

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Create Your Personal Legacy with AJC

Marcia Burnam

Personal testimony from Reeve Chudd

When my wife, Marian, and I sat down to have a serious discussion about our financial commitment to AJC, we asked ourselves some very easy and some very tough questions, such as:

  1. Would anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism endure beyond our lifetimes? (That was one of the easy ones to answer.)
  2. While we have already made the decision that the mission of AJC is the most effective and comprehensive global advocacy for the safety of Jews and the Jewish homeland for generations to come, how could we help this cause after our time (the other valuable quantity we contribute) has run out?
  3. When we die, and our surviving family inherits our wealth, would their lives be affected by any significant measure if their inheritance is diminished by a charitable legacy?
  4. Of even greater importance, did we want to ensure that our descendants understand the strength of our commitment to the work of AJC?
  5. Finally, were we to suffer financial reverses in the future, could we adjust our bequest if we found it necessary to do so?

We had already come to the conclusion that, as each generation of American Jews is born, they are further away from the history of the Holocaust and safer to practice Judaism then the previous generation, and less attentive to risk of world Jewry. So while our lifetime financial commitment to AJC (or, for that matter, any charity) may be tempered by our own needs, when those needs end, we wanted to do something to help AJC stay effective in the future.

We talked about my own grandfather, Avrom Chudnofsky, who in 1946 on his deathbed uttered to my father his great regret that the Jews would never have a home, and how I want to prove him wrong even after I, too, am gone.

After our discussion about each of these topics, Marian and I came to the same conclusion: we will continue our financial commitment to AJC, but when we depart, we need to be counted one last time, give one last push to perpetuate the momentum of the great work of AJC.

So to implement this goal, and become AJC Visionaries, we changed the beneficiary designation on my pension plan to provide for a bequest to AJC, a designation which is revocable and amendable during our lifetimes. The reason we used the pension plan is that whatever individual (Marian or my daughter) receives those funds after my death, the recipient will have to pay income taxes on 100% of the distribution (which means, under our current federal and California income taxes, they might only keep about half of the total distribution), whereas AJC will get all of those funds tax-free. It was a painless act, but it brought both of us the comfort that our commitment would be even longer than lifelong.