Mar 5, 2021 By B'Yachad Editors Category: Historical Preservation,
Leaving a thriving legacy
Abraham “Albert” Schiff was born in 1883 in the small Lithuanian village of Laizeva. According to his grandson, Stanford University Professor Dr. Arnold Milstein, the Schiff family placed an emphasis on Judaism.
Once in the U.S., Schiff served for many years as a member, and then president, of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Board of Directors. His dedication around the world to Zionism was driven by the ever-present dangers to Jews and the need for a safe and secure Jewish homeland.
To help Jewish immigrants in Palestine, Schiff created companies to enable them to prosper. After WWII, he helped lead the acquisition of ships used to transport Holocaust survivors out of Europe, including the famed S.S. President Warfield, the boat described in the film and novel “Exodus.”
When his family arrived in the U.S. in 1919, Schiff and his brother eventually went on to create the Shoe Corp of America, one of America’s largest national shoe retailer and manufacturing firms.
Prior to being elected president of Jewish National Fund-USA in 1960, Schiff played an instrumental role in acquiring Jewish National Fund-USA’s New York headquarters in 1954. The Ronald S. Lauder JNF House was originally built in 1921 by descendants of Arthur Sachs, and on November 6, 1955, Schiff delivered the opening address at the dedication ceremony.
Schiff forged close ties with prominent Israeli and American politicians, such as Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President John F. Kennedy. However, the most significant connections were among his family, where he developed a long-standing philanthropic tradition, many of whom continue to serve and support Israel—chief among them his late daughter, Elaine Schiff Milstein, and her four children. “As ardent believers in the Jewish State, its people, and ancestral land, we should wish to ensure the future of JNF-USA and the continuation of its historic efforts in the days to come,” said Schiff in a 1953 interview. “This can be done by assigning part of our insurance to JNF-USA."
Carrying on her father’s tradition and legacy, Elaine included Jewish National Fund-USA in her estate planning, naming Jewish National Fund-USA as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Intergenerational giving continues to allow Jewish National Fund-USA to provide its partners with an enduring legacy in support of the land and people of Israel and Jewish people everywhere.
To learn more about the many ways you can leave your legacy with Jewish National Fund-USA, visit jnflegacy.org or call 800.562.7526.
This article was written in Jewish National Fund-USA’s 2021 Winter B’Yachad magazine. To read the full B’Yachad, please click here.