Planned Giving

When considering a bequest, her Jewish values led her to AJWS

Photo of Alice SchreyerWhen it came time to think about including a charitable bequest, research librarian Alice Schreyer followed her Jewish values—right to American Jewish World Service.

“I wanted to include in my estate planning something that addressed my Jewish identity and those values,” she says. “I wanted to address human and social needs for the long term.”

Alice has always felt strongly tied to Jewish values and traditions. She grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn—but “not the trendy Brooklyn you know now,” she laughs. She earned an English degree from Barnard College and a master’s in teaching from Yale then taught high school English for three years. Eventually she earned a degree in library science from Columbia University and a doctorate in English Literature at Emory.

After working for more than 20 years at the University of Chicago, she is now the Roger and Julie Baskes Vice President for Collections and Library Services at Chicago’s Newberry Library—an independent research library that provides access to primary source materials, research services, and public programs all for free—which also aligns with her Jewish values.

She’d begun actively looking for an organization whose mission fit with those values when she heard an inspiring spot about AJWS on public radio. Her interest was piqued. After looking on the philanthropy guide Charity Navigator, where she saw that AJWS receives a top score for accountability, Alice began to dig deeper into our international human rights work—and she liked what she saw. Soon she made her first annual gift, which resulted in a pivotal phone call from AJWS’s Chicago Director.

Alice wanted to know how to get involved and learn, first hand, about the work AJWS was doing around the world. Her timing was impeccable; an AJWS grantee from Nicaragua was speaking in Chicago.

“[At that event, I heard] a very painful but heartwarming story. It gave me another perspective, truly,” Alice recalls.

Alice now enthusiastically contributes to AJWS on an annual basis and has added a larger sum in the form of a bequest, which she says was the most practical type of gift for her to make.

She says her relationship with AJWS was deepened by an eye-opening visit to the Dominican Republic last December to see AJWS programs in action.

“We visited communities of Haitian immigrants who are stateless in the Dominican Republic—children who can’t go to school, people who have no access to health care, adults who can’t work in jobs that will protect them,” Alice says, still in awe of the challenges faced by these communities. “But there is an amazing sense of hope that the grantees have because of the support they get from AJWS. I saw the core principals of the organization in action. The staff I have met, all of them, really strengthened my respect for the work being done.”

Alice encourages others to consider planned gifts to AJWS.

“I’m surprised when I talk to people how many don’t know about AJWS,” she says. “I’d say, ‘learn as much as you can—and your appreciation for the work will grow with that knowledge.’ The more we know about the work of AJWS, the more creative and inspiring it is.”

Alice says that, most of all, AJWS truly embodies Jewish values.

“I think at the heart of it all is to leave the world a better place than you found it,” Alice says. “Tikkun olam is really the core of everything AJWS does—and that really resonates with me.”


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