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Donor Stories

Meet Ann and Richard Jaffe

Meet Ann and Richard Jaffe

Helping to Improve the Lives of Others

You can’t talk for long to Ann and Richard Jaffe, donor advised fundholders at the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF), without the conversation turning to the San Diego Jewish Academy (SDJA). SDJA is their passion and will be one of their major legacies in San Diego. But it also reveals so much about their Jewish values and their outlook on life.

Richard led a team of passionate supporters raising nearly $75 million for SDJA. The Jaffes themselves made substantial contributions – most notably the lead gift for the land on which the magnificent Jewish day school campus sits. Ann was Board President of SDJA at the time of the land purchase and helped shape the school’s direction during one of the most pivotal phases of its growth.

Their fundraising efforts, though, and their own personal donations, have continued long after their three children left SDJA. Why do Ann and Richard do this? Richard explained that whenever he asks others to join him in supporting the Academy, it isn’t to benefit his own kids or the potential donor he is meeting: “It is an opportunity to participate in improving the lives of others.” And that sums up the Jaffes’ attitude towards philanthropy – they want to give others every chance to live good lives and contribute to society themselves.

Giving is often considered a detached or dispassionate act. But many times, the person giving ultimately gains as much as the recipient, in ways that can be tangible or intangible. “We go from success to significance and elevate our souls by helping elevate others,” as Richard shared in the context of asking others to support the Academy. The Jaffes don’t have any expectation of something in return for their philanthropy. They just know from decades of giving that it tends to yield rewards in many ways, including the satisfaction of seeing Jewish students grow into future leaders.

Judaism informs their values and has always been an important part of their lives. Richard grew up in a Jewish household on Long Island, while Ann, whose family moved frequently in her early years, developed her Jewish identity as a teen on a USY pilgrimage to Israel, after which she decided to become Bat Mitzvah at age 17. She later spent a summer at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute in Simi Valley, studying under Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, where she built her “fundamental foundations of Judaism.” The couple have since taken every opportunity to develop their own Jewish philanthropic foundations, including through the prestigious Wexner Foundation fellowship and the Jewish Funders Network.

Ann and Richard met in January of 1984 while attending an industry seminar on school food service at the Hotel Del Coronado. Ann was a School Nutrition Director; Richard was President of Nutrifoods Int’l and would shortly take the precursor to ‘Minute Maid Fruit Juices’ public. They took a long walk on the beach, where they talked about their Jewish upbringings and Richard recited poetry that he had written. Four months later they were engaged, and by the end of the year, they were married. Richard and his eldest daughter Charly co-authored a book discussing how he kept his emotional stability through crisis after crisis as well as how he asked Ann to marry him. The book is entitled ‘Turning Crisis Into Success: A Serial Entrepreneur’s Lessons on Overcoming Challenges While Keeping Your Sh*t Together’.

In addition to Charly, Ann and Richard have encouraged their other two grown children, Brett and Maxi, to create donor advised funds for themselves at the Jewish Community Foundation. They see DAFs as a starting point for their children to “create their own legacies”. Richard and Ann used to have their own family foundation but transitioned to a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Jewish Community Foundation because it was easier to manage. “They provided all the tools we needed,” said Richard, plus they value the convenience of JCF staff’s availability to assist with their philanthropy. The couple like to make annual grants each year to nonprofits on their anniversary – reflecting their shared value of giving back. Bringing things back to SDJA again, Richard noted the additional assurance they feel with JCF housing and managing the SDJA endowment, ensuring that their decades of support for Jewish education in San Diego will continue their legacy indefinitely.

Ann and Richard Jaffe
Ann and Richard Jaffe