Our History

The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies has a long and proud history as an independent charitable organization serving the local Jewish community. On March 23, 1911, eight men and two women met at Zion House, located on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York to form the Foundation. These founding directors were: Henry Weill, August Keiser, Mrs. Marcus Spiegel, Jacob G. Joseph, Emanuel Boasberg, Solomon Ginsburg, Isaac E. Harris, Theodore Hofeller, Solomon Morrison and Mrs. Edward Warner. Their purpose as stated in the original certificate of incorporation was, “To provide a permanent, efficient and practical mode of collecting and distributing contributions for charitable or philanthropic purposes, and to devote the sums so collected for the support for Jewish charitable organizations…”

During those formative years, our community’s founders agreed upon a rational and far-sighted division of labor under which the Buffalo Jewish Federation would be responsible for annual fund-raising and allocations, while the Foundation would manage the long-term permanent endowment funds. Their wisdom has served us well and continues to guide us today.

The Foundation’s first benefactor was Dr. Jerome Hilton Waterman who left a bequest of $20,000 in memory of his parents, Herman and Malvina Waterman. Since 1912, these funds have been held in trust for the benefit of the Buffalo Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo. Both of these agencies continue to receive annual income from the Waterman Fund to support special programs.

The past Presidents of the Foundation include the most distinguished leaders in our community’s history.
We thank them for building the Foundation of today, and we recognize them as follows:

Solomon Ginsburg

1911 – 1912

Isaac E. Harris

1913 – 1915

Theodore Hofeller

1916 – 1918

Eugene Warner

1919 – 1920

Emanuel Boasberg


Hon. Samuel J. Harris

1922 – 1925

Charles Polakoff


Dr. Lester I. Levyn

1927 – 1929

Harry J. Lehman


Eugene Warner

1931 – 1944

Maurice S. Tabor

1945 – 1953

Stanley G. Falk

1954 – 1965

Morris Goldstein

1966 – 1968

Joseph N. Desmon

1969 – 1970

Robert C. Hayman

1971 – 1972

Eugene M. Warner

1973 – 1974

Lawrence W. Gunzberg

1975 – 1979

Norman C. Joseph

1980 – 1981

J. Milton Zeckhauser

1982 – 1983

Amb. Leonard Rochwarger

1984 – 1986

Sheldon Hurwitz

1987 – 1988

Sanford M. Nobel

1989 – 1990

Ruth Kahn Stovroff

1991 – 1992

Joel N. Lippman


Haskell I. Stovroff

1993 – 1994

Gordon R. Gross

1995 – 1996

Nathan Benderson

1997 – 1999

Ann Holland Cohn

2000 – 2001

Wayne D. Wisbaum

2002 – 2006

Eugene M. Setel

2007 – 2008

Richard A. Zakalik

2009 – 2010

Arnold N. Kahn

2011 – 2012

Judith H. Katz

2013 – 2014

Raymond L. Fink

2015 – 2018

Donald M. Kohnstamm

2019 – 2020

Jonathan Schechter

2021 – 2022

Daniel J. Kester

2023 – Present


The Foundation Today

Today the Foundation has built upon its humble beginnings to become one of the largest charitable foundations in Western New York managing over 1,000 funds and with total assets in excess of $220 million. With committed leadership, professional staffing and strong community support, the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies faces the future with pride in what has been achieved and with confidence in our ability to serve both donors and charitable agencies alike.

The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies would be honored to assist you and your family in preserving your legacy.

Irving H. Levy, Executive Director
(716) 204-1139 •  716-390-9653 •  Irv@jewishphilanthropies.org