JFS St. Paul Receives Its Largest Endowment Donation

Jewish Family Service of St. Paul announced that it received a $500,000 donation – the largest in the organization’s history – to establish the Anita and Jim Dinerstein Endowment to support ongoing operations. The gift was made by Rachel Geballe and Ellen Werlin of New York City, along with their families, in honor of their parents, Anita and Jim. Investments stemming from this gift will provide perpetual funding for JFS programs and operations.

“We are honored to make this gift in memory of our parents, Anita and Jim Dinerstein, who devoted their lives to the Jewish community as well as the city at large,” said Geballe and Werlin. “Both believed strongly in the value of chesed and of supporting and sustaining people who are facing the challenges of life. Building and nurturing Jewish Family Service was a life’s work for our mother, Anita, with the wholehearted support of our father Jim. 

“Jim’s work in supporting housing and other resources for those in need are etched across the physical space of the city and state. We can think of no greater legacy than to honor their memories by uplifting and honoring those who follow in their footsteps, building a stronger and more compassionate St. Paul Jewish community,” said the daughters.

With this gift, the JFS Community Service Award, presented each year at the agency’s annual fundraiser to honor extraordinary volunteer and philanthropic effort in support of JFS, will be renamed the Anita and Jim Dinerstein Community Service Award. Recent award recipients include Barry and Rena Glaser, Mitzi Gramling, and Dr. Jimmy Levine. The inaugural Anita and Jim Dinerstein Community Service Award will be presented at the 2024 Celebration of Service on May 19, 2024, at the Mendakota Country Club.

Anita Dinerstein, LICSW, was a long-time staff member and leader at JFS, retiring as the assistant director in 2005. She then generously contributed another seven years at JFS as a volunteer for the financial assistance and community resources programs. As annual financial supporters of JFS, Anita and Jim understood the importance of supporting the agency’s work and mission through unrestricted gifts that could be used where the need was greatest. Jim dedicated his professional life to developing low- and moderate-income housing throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

“It is not a surprise that Anita and Jim’s daughters are making this incredible gift. They’re following in their parents’ footsteps who worked hard and believed they were required to contribute in whatever way they could,” said JFS CEO Ruth Olkon. “Anita and Jim welcomed everyone into their circle as they endeavored to create and contribute to a strong, beneficent community.”

JFS Counseling Director Dr. Mitchell Wittenberg worked with Anita for many years. “Anita was a model for how to provide services in a careful, thoughtful and decent way,” said Dr. Wittenberg. “She was a blessing to countless individuals in the community. I model myself after her to the best of my ability. I would do anything for Anita because I knew she was in the trenches doing everything in her power to make a difference to help people.”

Said Olkon: “Anita could see the strengths in her clients and colleagues. She was an incredible coach and mentor. This endowment … will make an enduring mark on our ability to deliver critical human services.”