Dorothy Saxe, a model for the importance of tzedakah

The Federation congratulates Dorothy Saxe, whose continued and unwavering dedication to the Bay Area Jewish community has earned her the 2022 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award. On January 31, Dorothy was honored at the Ann Bear Memorial Women of Valor Luncheon, held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) —a place that holds a treasured place in her heart.

Dorothy is the finest example of leadership, commitment, generosity, mentorship, and effectively implementing her ideas into action. She has done this for all these many years and, in doing so, encouraged others to follow her lead. Dorothy doesn’t just speak out; she acts and makes things happen.

- Roselyne 'Cissie' Swig

Adele Corvin and Dorothy Saxe

Growing up, Dorothy benefited from parents who were shining examples of keeping a Jewish household, community involvement, and philanthropy. Her family lit Shabbat candles, attended services each week, and celebrated Jewish holidays. Surrounded by the rich traditions of Judaism, she inherently understood the importance of how they formed her values and life-long devotion to giving back, which were highly valued in their home.

The values instilled in Dorothy as a child carried into adulthood. Alongside her husband George z”l, she has been a beacon of leadership and generosity in the Bay Area Jewish community since moving to Palo Alto in 1959. She is described by her colleagues and friends as an inspirational, visionary, generous, infatigable leader and mentor, and continues to bring her invaluable skills and wisdom to countless organizations, from the Federation to Congregation Beth Am, the CJM to Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS). She is a model board member, contributing her time and resources, and sharing her personal connections to help each organization succeed.

Dorothy is the most inspiring person I know. She is the soul of goodness, generosity, and humility; she truly lives by her convictions; and she has served the Jewish community as a devoted volunteer, leader, and philanthropist for many decades…In my eyes, she embodies the spirit of tikkun olam.

- Rabbi Janet Marder, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Am

Art, like Jewish philanthropy, has always been a special part of Dorothy’s life. In the late 1970s, she and George began collecting art, wanting to find a shared passion they could explore together. Their robust and unique collection includes works in glass, clay, wood, fiber and metal, and several pieces of Judaica. The couple supported up-and-coming artists, encouraging them and giving them opportunities to push their boundaries and explore their creativity.

Today, the Saxe Collection of Contemporary Art, Glass, and Crafts is world-renowned. The couple's love for art and dedication to philanthropy were combined in The Dorothy Saxe Invitational, the CJM’s longest-running exhibition, endowed by George in 2009 to honor his wife, who is recognized worldwide for her expertise and is valued for her artistic awareness. Though Dorothy no longer collects art, she continues to serve on the CJM Development Committee, which is chaired by her grandson, Dave Saxe.

We’re tremendously grateful to have Dorothy in our Jewish community and even more so, lead and inspire us to be our best selves.

Watch Dorothy’s inspirational story in her own words.

*The Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award. In memory of Judith Chapman, an esteemed volunteer leader, friend, and member of our community, this award honors a woman who exemplifies significant and sustained volunteer leadership, Jewish identity, and the importance of tzedakah in her life.


January 23, 2023


Ariella Flatt