Ethan Zohn, the charismatic winner of TV’s “Survivor: Africa,” will speak to Jewish Endowment Foundation B’nai Maimonides fund holders, their families and friends, on “Doing Well and Doing Good” on March 2, at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans.
Students who are having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in 2008 are also invited to attend the 12:30 p.m. program, and bring their families and friends.

Zohn was the winner of the third season of “Survivor.” He used the proceeds from his “Survivor” win to establish a nonprofit organization called “Grassroots Soccer,” which trains Africa’s professional soccer players to teach children about HIV/AIDS infection and prevention.

Zohn played soccer in Zimbabwe and Hawaii and coached the U.S. Pan American Maccabiah team in Chile, as well as playing for the American teams in 1997 and 2001 in Israel.

Zohn is also a spokesman for “America Scores,” an organization that helps inner city children participate in educational soccer programs.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling the JEF office, (504) 524-4559.
The JEF B’nai Maimonides program is part of a national movement to involve Jewish youth in philanthropy.

Since April 1, 2007, when the program restarted after Hurricane Katrina, 21 teens have opened B’nai Maimonides funds, bringing the group total to 55.

“B’nai Maimonides is a matching program in which bar or bat mitzvah teens contribute $250 of their gift money to the Jewish Endowment Foundation,” said Bonnie Lustig, the program’s New Orleans director. “This contribution is matched by a generous anonymous donor and by JEF. The total of $500 is used to establish a B’nai Maimonides Fund in the young person’s name. He or she can begin making small distributions from the fund immediately.”

The principal is invested in fixed income securities through JEF. The fund grows through interest earnings and additional donations that can be made at any time. Each year for 10 years, the child may choose one or more worthy causes to receive 5 percent of the fund’s balance: $25 the first year and more as the fund increases.

After 10 years, if the fund totals over $5,000, it becomes the child’s own JEF Donor Advised Fund. Funds under $5,000 remain in the child’s name and become permanent JEF funds. Their annual income is used to support Jewish community programs.

At least half of the distributions from the funds must be given to Jewish causes. JEF presents programs for fundholders to familiarize them with eligible nonprofit groups. Participants meet dynamic speakers and activists like Zohn who are celebrating Jewish life throughout the world.
Representatives from the Jewish Children’s Regional Service and the New Orleans Jewish Day School will make presentations at the March 2 meeting to explain their agencies’ work.

Joseph Lustig, who opened a fund several years ago, is a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School. He recently met with his family to choose beneficiaries for his fund. His diverse list included JCRS; MAZON, which funds soup kitchens and food pantries nationwide; Doctors Without Borders; Magen David Adom, the Israel version of the Red Cross; and the Hebrew Free Burial Association, an organization that buries indigent Jews.

Young Philanthropists
JEF also sponsors the Young Philanthropists Program. Through Young Philanthropists, minor children of any age can become philanthropists with an initial tax-deductible gift of $500 or more. They do not receive matching funds; however, they can begin making distributions from the fund’s income once the fund is established and can participate in the same training and leadership programs as B’nai Maimonides teens when they are of bat or bar mitzvah age or older.

For more information on B’nai Maimonides, contact Ellen Abrams, (504) 524-4559 or ellen@jefno.org.

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