Robert Kraft family receives Youth to Israel Award
WOBURN, August 29, 2016 – Cummings Foundation co-founders Bill and Joyce Cummings were honored last weekend with the Friend of Israel Award, presented by Lappin Foundation. The Salem-based organization, which offers programs that enhance Jewish identity, created this award in 2013 to recognize people of faiths other than Judaism who support the Jewish People.
Bill Cummings and the commercial real estate firm he founded, Cummings Properties, are more typically known on the North Shore for transforming Beverly’s United Shoe Machinery Corporation site into the Cummings Center business and technology campus.
“Joyce and Bill Cummings’ support of Holocaust education and their connection to Israel are values we want our teens to appreciate and not to take for granted,” said Lappin Foundation president Robert I. Lappin. “Presenting them with the Friend of Israel Award is our small way of saying ‘thank you’ for being exceptional role models to the next generation.”
Following a 2009 trip to Israel, where Bill, a Roman Catholic, and Joyce, a Methodist, met and were inspired by a Holocaust survivor, the couple began funding interfaith initiatives to promote tolerance. They established a program at Tufts University to educate students about the Holocaust and other genocides and, shortly afterward, began supporting a similar initiative at Salem State University.
“We felt we had to do something,” said Bill, “and so we partnered with these excellent local universities, with the goal of creating active citizens who will defy not only anti-Semitism but also racism, homophobia, and intolerance of any kind.”
Cummings Foundation has also provided significant support to Jewish Vocational Service of Boston, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Lappin Foundation announced the Cummings’ award on August 28 at its Youth to Israel Welcome Home Event at Marblehead’s Temple Sinai. The event drew more than 300 attendees, including local Jewish teens who went to Israel this past July as part of Lappin Foundation’s Youth to Israel Adventure program.
The Cummings accepted the award in absentia, as they were traveling in Europe at the time, in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. They met with Robert Lappin earlier this summer, however, to videotape a message that was shown as part of the awards ceremony.
Also honored at the event was the Robert Kraft family, which received Lappin Foundation’s 2016 Youth to Israel Award “for outstanding leadership, inspirational philanthropy, and commitment to Israel.” The Kraft family is well known for its support of Jewish and Israeli causes, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jerusalem Foundation, and World Jewish Congress, as well as synagogues, Hillel centers, and Jewish schools.
Cummings Foundation was established in 1986 and, with more than $1.2 billion in net assets, it has grown to be one of the largest foundations in New England. To date, it has awarded more than $140 million in grants to Greater Boston nonprofits alone.
Earlier this year, the Cummings received the Justice and Compassion Award from Catholic Charities of Boston as well as honorary doctoral degrees from Endicott College, where they jointly delivered the commencement address.