Professor Eliezer David Jaffe z’’l was a giant of Israeli social work and philanthropy, dedicating his life to the welfare and dignity of the most vulnerable members of Israeli society.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1933, Professor Jaffe made Aliyah (immigrated) to Israel in 1960. He helped establish Israel’s first academic school of social work, the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as the University’s Center for the Study of Philanthropy. He was widely published as a researcher, focusing on social services to children and families, as well as the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in Israel.
Professor Jaffe’s academic research, together with his deep personal empathy and Jewish values, came to a head in 1990. Seeing an influx of vulnerable immigrants to Israeli following waves of mass immigration, Professor Jaffe was moved to establish the Israel Free Loan Association – IFLA (now Ogen). Over the next 27 years, Professor Jaffe’s vision, leadership, ingenuity and charisma grew Ogen into the largest Jewish free loan association in the world.
Throughout his life Professor Jaffe received countless awards and honors recognizing his contributions to Israeli society, including: The Yakir Yerushalayim Distinguished Citizen of Jerusalem Award, The Speaker of the Knesset Prize, The President of Israel’s Citation for Outstanding Volunteer Activity, The Sderot Conference Award for Contribution to Israeli Society and The 2017 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Tzion Lifetime Achievement Award.
Professor Jaffe – Eliezer, to all who knew him – remained active as Ogen’s President until his final days, personally leading the first steps of the organization’s transition to Ogen. He was an inspirational human being, and is intensely missed by all those who had the privilege to learn from the example carried in his every word.