The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana began in 1967 when a group of far-sighted leaders in the New Orleans Jewish community took notice of endowment foundations being developed in other Jewish communities throughout the United States. They decided that their own city needed an organization to serve as a repository of funds for a rainy day reserve in case of need and a source for as yet undreamed-of projects to nurture an enduring and vibrant Jewish New Orleans.
These early JEF pioneers had lived through World War II, many of them serving on battlegrounds in Europe and the Pacific, and had witnessed the loss of Europe’s Jewish population in Hitler’s death camps. They had watched the Jews of small Southern towns slowly migrate to larger cities, shuttering synagogues and ending decades of Southern Jewish life. They wanted to preserve Jewish life, Jewish values, Jewish culture and Jewish institutions.
In their wisdom, these men and women founded the Jewish Endowment Foundation to serve as a repository of funds for planned giving – funds that would always be here to serve whatever needs the changing story of Jewish life in New Orleans would bring. As time went by, those needs grew to include the entire state and JEF became the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana. Our story is told on this website. Here you can learn not only about our past but our future and how you can become a member of the ever-growing family of JEF donors, building a Jewish future in Louisiana.