Meet Ira Kipp

“When I was a kid at Mount Zion,” said JFS board member Ira Kipp, “we had a recognition tree and you could buy an engraved leaf to put on it to plant a tree in Israel. As a kid I thought ‘why would I want to give to someone else when I don’t have much myself?’”

As a young adult, Ira went fishing with his dad in northern Minnesota. He witnessed good people living in abject poverty. There was no work to be had, and as a young adult, he began to reflect on the bounty of privileges he enjoyed. He was raised by loving parents: his father came from humble beginnings and worked hard his entire life, and his mother earned a master’s degree back when women didn’t typically do such things. She was fiercely independent and worked as a teacher. They were both raised in observant Jewish homes to which Ira credits their strong values.

Ira met Jesse Rosten who was working as the development director at what is now the St. Paul Jewish Federation. “Jesse took me under his wing and taught me how to give back,” said Ira. “It can be hard to decide how much to leave for your family and how much to give to charity so that you will positively impact generations to come. But I believe that if you teach and enable your children to be responsible and give them a good education and instill the value of helping and giving, they have every opportunity to make a good life for themselves and continue helping the community.”

Ira is very active in his community, and JFS is one of his favorite organizations. “JFS helps everybody. And the client approach is to immediately stabilize the situation, and then give the client the tools they need to continue to be successful. I could never do what those social workers do,” said Ira, “I don’t have the emotional strength to see the trauma that people have to go through; and that’s where the JFS social workers help people.”

Ira wanted to help JFS identify more fundraising opportunities. In honor of his parents, Ira donated a beautiful carving of a tree trunk with bare branches. On August 26, JFS will unveil the tree filled with leaves engraved with the names of all JFS Legacy Donors. These donors have named JFS as a beneficiary of their estate upon their death. “It’s a beautiful way to make a commitment to helping the next generation,” said Ira.