Karen James


Growing up in Vancouver, I learned about community involvement and philanthropy primarily from my mother. Despite being busy raising four kids, she was continually giving of her time as a Hadassah volunteer.


I think women have a unique contribution to make in philanthropy because we really ‘give from the heart’. And we have a lot to give. Women today often earn as much, if not more, than their husbands and have greater control of the wealth than ever before. We also tend to be more caring and nurturing by nature than men. We are wired to care and nurture our families and we end up doing the same for our communities.


Prior to establishing my Lion of Judah Endowment, I had already set up a family foundation which was all about engaging my children in giving and involving them in the decision making process. My LOJE, funded by a life insurance policy, is really my personal legacy to the community. It is so simple to maintain and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. For a relatively small annual payment, I am making a significant future contribution. It’s really a gift that keeps on giving.


I feel that our strong community was made possible by the work and generosity of previous generations. My Lion of Judah Endowment is my way of ensuring that, l’Dor v’Dor, I do my part to guarantee the next generation also gets to enjoy a strong and vibrant Jewish community.


It’s all about building Jewish identity. I love supporting those institutions that create a spark of Jewish connection, through sports, through summer camps, or other programs. It was through these programs, like the Maccabi Games, that I always knew I was Jewish, that I was brought together with my community, and that I gained a lot of pride in being Jewish.


It has been said that the highest form of giving is selfless, and yet, I find it extremely rewarding to give. It is a very empowering experience. And the more I give, the more I get back.