(JTA) — Philanthropist Yitzchak Shavit, a leader in the federation movement and the Jewish Agency for Israel, 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.
Shavit, a Tel Aviv native, led North American fundraising for the Israel Education Fund, a joint designated fundraising initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations, and oversaw donor-directed philanthropy for overseas.
In his nearly two decades at Jewish Federations, 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, re-energizing and reinvigorating communities across the country.
“I am devastated by the loss of someone so special,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America 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.”
The Jewish Agency on Sunday dedicated The Yitzchak Shavit Resource Development Center of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem.
In 1994, Shavit joined Jewish Federations as vice president of the Israel Education Fund before going on to serve as senior vice president of its 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.
Before serving at Jewish Federations, Shavit worked at the Jewish Agency as the deputy director-general for Rural and Urban Development. One of his many highly successful initiatives there was Project Renewal, which renovated distressed neighborhoods throughout Israel and was a pioneering joint venture between the Israeli government and worldwide Jewish communities.
Shavit served in the Israel Defense Forces, then studied economics and political science at Hebrew University. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alberta, and spent time as a Canadian emissary for the Jewish Agency.