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JCF Scholarship Recipients Create their own Legacies


Justin Tuman, Marissa Tuman, and Carol Roth pictured at the 2023 JCF Scholarship Awards Reception

The following is a reprint of the JCF's Money Matters column, published in the June 14, 2023 issue of the Jewish Community Voice, about how JCF Scholarship recipients create their own legacies:

On June 5, the Jewish Community Foundation, Inc. hosted its first in-person Scholarship Award Reception since 2019. 10 of 19 award recipients and their families attended. In addition, numerous funders and JCF and Jewish Federation leadership joined to share their congratulations to these worthwhile future leaders. Celebrating the accomplishments of these awardees is a yearly highlight on the JCF’s calendar.

As part of the program, we heard from two rising stars in our community who conveyed their personal stories and connection to the JCF Scholarship Award program.

First, Justin Tuman, who received awards in 2019 and 2020, spoke about his trials and tribulations leading up to, during, and after college. Following a family tragedy, Justin wasn’t sure how his college dream would shake out. During his speech, he said:

“Together as a family, we held strong as a unit and tackled one challenge at a time one day at a time. However, it had become increasingly hard to picture myself in any form of future where I could afford to go to school. Thankfully I was able to find an organization like the JCF that saw something in me that I hadn’t yet seen in myself. Being awarded my first scholarship going into my freshman year changed everything for our family.

Without exaggeration or flair, the JCF was the saving grace on whether my collegiate aspiration would become a reality or not. With great pride, I was able to see that dream through.”

JCF Scholarship Awards can truly change lives. These awards also can continue a community member’s legacy, as witnessed during a speech by Cherry Hill resident Emma Wolf, a rising senior at The Ohio State University. Following the tragic death of her best friend, Jaclyn Ehrlich, Emma and her family wanted to memorialize her legacy. They decided to create the Jaclyn Ehrlich Travel Experience Award, which is provided to a young individual who is choosing either to study abroad in Israel or embark on a community service trip.

Some lightly edited highlights from Emma’s poignant speech follow:

“In August of 2021, after completing her freshman year at University of Central Florida, just 2 years after her diagnosis, Jaclyn lost her battle with cancer. In those 2 years, by her side, I witnessed a life well lived. Jac never spent time being in sickness; rather, she lived her life to the absolute fullest.

“Since Jaclyn’s untimely passing, I have gone through every stage of grief over and over again. Losing your best friend at the age of 19 changes you – matures you. It makes it so that you NEED to let the world know who Jaclyn was… to do anything to keep her memory alive. I knew it was time to do something that would ensure Jac’s essence lives on forever.

“When faced with deciding the most meaningful way to honor my best friend, my family was thrilled to combine her two passions. The Jaclyn Ehrlich Travel Experience Award is given to a young individual who is choosing either to study abroad in Israel or embark on a community service trip.

“My family looks forward to reflecting Jaclyn’s light through many recipients in the future.

“There is no way to replace the gaping hole that the death of a loved one can leave in your heart. What we can do is remember the good times with them, cherish what they did for others, and ensure their legacy lives on.”

The 2023 recipients of JCF Scholarship Awards are creating their own legacies while also honoring the legacies of those who came before them. Congratulations to our esteemed awardees, and thank you to our generous award donors.

If you have questions about the JCF Scholarship Awards, please contact me at dsnyder@jfedsnj.org or JCF Assistant Director Mike Staff at mstaff@jfedsnj.org.

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