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Dr. Larry Levitt holds Lehigh Valley's Jewish Federation in a special place in his heart. A retired neurologist, he speaks with particular pride of the Maimonides Society an organization of local physicians which he co-founded that is named after the great 12th Century Sephardic Jewish philosopher, doctor and scholar. "It started here," he says. "It's all over the country now, but it started right here in Allentown, Pennsylvania."
Likewise, "Lehigh Valley's Women's Federation invented the Pomegranate Pin, and we hosted Russian Jewish immigrants." The list goes on and the Federation will go on, in part because Larry and his wife Eva have decided to make financial commitments for its future.
Some years ago in New York, Larry and Eva chose to set up a charitable remainder trust, which provides for distributions on at least an annual basis to one or more non-charitable recipients, with the remainder paid to a charitable organization at some point in the future.
While Eva is endowing her Lion of Judah through her will, Larry and Eva created a charitable remainder trust because of how they feel about the Federation and because the trust "gives income; it's a tax deduction; and most of all, we feel good about giving back."
When it expires after its 20-year term ends, the remaining assets will continue their life's work. "I've probably solicited about a third of the people in Allentown," Larry says with a chuckle, yet with something in his eye with which former patients must be familiar as he looked to ensure their health and longevity.
The trust he has set up shows how very much he and Eva care about our particular community of Jews and that they want the Jewish community at large to be there for their children's children. Already, Larry confides, his grandchildren are learning by this particular example.
Eva learned charitable giving in a similar way. As one of many examples, she recalls, "my mother heard a woman speaking Hungarian on the street corner; the next thing I knew, she found the woman a job!" Eva's father and maternal grandmother survived Auschwitz, and ensuring Jewish life l'dor va dor from generation to generation is extremely important to the family.
Larry credits his parents with showing him charitable giving as well: "They gave to the extent that they could," he says, and Eva emphasizes that gifts need not be large to make a difference. Larry and Eva's parents showed them that, and as Eva says, "giving makes us feel good," and in the Levitts' choices this legacy surely lives on.