(JTA) — Philanthropist Yitzchak Shavit, a leader in the Federation movement and the Jewish Agency, has died.
Shavit, the senior vice president of Communal Advancement at The Jewish Federations of North America, and the executive vice chairman of the United Israel Appeal, died Sunday at the age of 67.
A dedicated supporter of Israel, Shavit led North-American fundraising for the Israel Education Fund and oversaw donor-directed philanthropy for overseas.
“I am devastated by the loss of someone so special,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the JFNA board of trustees. “Yitzchak was truly unique in his warmth, his irrepressible energy and dedication to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. He was a mentor, a teacher and the best fundraiser I knew.”
A Tel Aviv native, Shavit served in the Israel Defense Forces, then studied economics and political science at Hebrew University. He earned master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Alberta, and spent time as a Canadian emissary for the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Before serving at JFNA, Shavit worked at the Jewish Agency as the deputy director-general for Rural and Urban Development, where one of his many highly successful initiatives was Project Renewal. This undertaking, which renovated distressed neighborhoods throughout Israel, was a pioneering joint venture between the Government of Israel and worldwide Jewish communities.
In 1994, he joined JFNA as vice-president of the Israel Education Fund, a joint designated fundraising initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations. He went on to serve as senior vice-president of the JFNA Communal Advancement department, which was responsible for developing collective and joint-venture funding initiatives, and as vice chair of UIA, charged with managing the distribution and oversight of funds raised by Federation campaigns for overseas programs, and securing and monitoring U.S. grant funds.
In his nearly two decades at JFNA, Shavit oversaw many philanthropic projects throughout Israel. As a result of his fundraising efforts, dozens of schools, business centers, athletic facilities and other projects were built, reenergizing and reinvigorating communities across the country.
The Jewish Agency on Sunday dedicated The Yitzchak Shavit Resource Development Center of the Jewish Agency, in Jerusalem.