Paying It Forward

Tags: Federation, Philanthropy

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From left to right: Larry Mack; his father, William Mack; his mother, z’’l Rita Mack; and his brother, Howard Mack.

Like many, Larry Mack’s early memories of tzedakah are tied to the iconic blue Jewish National Fund (JNF) boxes. His family had one at home, and he can still remember when the representative from JNF visited and opened the box with her special key and counted the money they had raised right in front of them. Similarly, at Sunday school at the Temple Tifereth-Israel there was a collection box for Keren-Ami, and Larry brought in coins each week to do his part, reinforcing the lesson that the Jewish people care for one another.

Larry’s parents served as inspirations to him for their roles in providing Jewish education, caring for their community, and supporting Israel. His mother, Rita, was a religious school teacher at the Emanu El and Fairmount temples, and a member of ORT and Hadassah. She would come home from meetings and share stories, and she also traveled with Larry’s father, Bill, to see ORT’s projects in Israel. Bill also modeled community involvement – he taught at Cleveland Hebrew Schools.

Larry enjoyed the many wonderful opportunities that growing up in Jewish Cleveland had to offer. He attended The Temple-Tifereth Israel’s religious school, celebrated his bar mitzvah there, and was confirmed there as well. He graduated from Hebrew High School and attended Camp Wise.

When he returned to Cleveland after graduate school in Chicago, a family friend, Sally Wertheim, was the board chair at Montefiore, and she quickly drafted him to join their finance committee. After that experience he was invited to join the board of trustees. He was then recruited by the Mandel Jewish Community Center (Mandel JCC) of Cleveland to be on their finance committee and then to serve as treasurer.

Thus began Larry’s many years of service to the community – which continue today. He has served as board chair at Montefiore and served in various roles on the boards of trustees of the Mandel JCC, Menorah Park, The Temple-Tifereth Israel, and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Currently, Larry serves as the board chair for Ohio Jewish Communities – which represents Ohio’s eight Jewish Federations, their partners, and agencies on a range of state, federal, and international issues in Columbus and Washington, DC.

When it came time to creating a legacy gift for Federation – Larry decided to do so on his own. “It’s important to fund the future – others did so for us, and we need to pay it forward,” he said. He found the experience of creating the gift was enjoyable! Depending on the type of gift, it does not require using current dollars. It’s a promise for the future that is paid with after-lifetime assets.

Larry’s gift to the Federation is unrestricted. When asked why he made that decision, he replied that he wants the Federation to be able to use the funds where they are most needed. “I’m highly confident it will go to the right places based on my experience with the Federation’s leadership. It gives me comfort to know that my gift will give the Federation the flexibility to respond to the needs of the time,” he offered.

Sparked by his first memories of collecting tzedakah and knowing that the satisfying clink of coins in the JNF’s blue tin box meant that he was making a difference – and inspired by his parents’ example of involvement and generosity – Larry has forged his own legacy of leadership and generosity.  We are blessed to have members of our community such as Larry, whose lifelong dedication and legacy gift will positively impact our Jewish community for generations to come.

From left to right: Larry’s brother, Howard Mack; sister-in-law, Janet Mack; nephew, David Mack; niece, Lori Mack; Larry Mack.

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