For the past 40+ years, Jack and Sharon Levin have marked momentous occasions in the lives of their friends and family with donations to the Howard William Levin and Ira Paul Levin Fund at Hebrew Free Loan. And they’ve encouraged these same friends and family members to do the same.

It’s often a happy milestone like a birthday, graduation, or bar mitzvah. Sometimes it’s a sad event like a yahrzeit (the anniversary of someone’s passing). Between Jack and Sharon and their loving community, more than 600 donations have been made to the Howard William Levin and Ira Paul Levin Fund. These gifts have generated over $185,000 to support the work of Hebrew Free Loan.

Jack and Sharon created the Fund in 1975 to honor and acknowledge the life of their son Ira, who was diagnosed with Canavan Disease at the age of six months. Canavan Disease is a fatal, degenerative neurological condition, and Ira ultimately passed away far too young at the age of 14. Jack and Sharon believed in Hebrew Free Loan’s mission, and they were drawn to the model of interest-free lending in which money is loaned out, paid back, and then passed along to assist the next person.

“We wanted to ensure that Ira’s life would have a positive meaning. Although we were unable to change the course of Ira’s life, we hoped we could help others achieve their dreams and goals.”

When Jack and Sharon’s son Howard later passed away at 37, it was only natural to add Howard’s name to the Fund. They wanted to build a legacy for both of their sons, keeping their boys’ memory strong in the hearts of friends and family. Every time someone remembers Ira or Howard with a donation, their legacy lives on.

“The pain you feel when you realize you have a child who is never going to grow up, and another who won’t see his own children grow up — some of that pain was mitigated by being able to establish this fund for others. Through our fund at Hebrew Free Loan, we can keep both Ira’s and Howard’s legacies alive.”

What they’ve accomplished is that and more. They’ve fostered a culture of giving that connects the Fund’s donors to each other, to Ira and Howard, and to the past and the future. With each new donation, they’re cementing a legacy that will continue to help individuals, families, and small business owners throughout Northern California for generations to come.

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