Bette-Jane Israels


I grew up in Winnipeg in a generous and, community-minded family. My father and grandfather were pillars of the community, building many Jewish institutions in Winnipeg after the War, and I aspire to follow in their footsteps. Women have a huge role to play in philanthropy. In generations past, a wife gave what her husband told her to give. Today, even if she doesn’t work outside the home, women have access to resources and have the ability to make independent decisions regarding their own philanthropy.


My decision to set up a Lion of Judah Endowment came about after my husband passed away at the height of his career and at a relatively young age. Here was a very generous man whose gift was suddenly lost. How can the community make up for that lost revenue? I committed to ‘picking up the slack’ and started thinking of my own situation. Who will ensure that the institutions I support during my lifetime will continue to thrive after I die?


Using life insurance to fund my LOJE was for me a cost effective way of perpetuating my gift.  Every year when I write my cheque for the premium, I am reminded that I will continue to do my part for community and those less fortunate even after I am gone, which gives me a great sense of satisfaction and gratification.


My late husband used to say “Tzedakah is the ‘rent we pay to live here on earth’. Thank goodness we live in a high-rent district!” This says it all—a real commitment to do what we can for others.


Other causes have huge donor bases, but who will support our synagogues, our educational institutions, the Louis Brier, and our summer camps? These are causes that are supported almost entirely by Jews. If we don’t support them, who will?


It saddens me to think that there are so few women in the entire community who have set up an endowment.  How wonderful it would be if all those who are able would recognize how valuable a LOJE can be for our community’s future, and think of it as their legacy.