Ted Reich's Philanthropic Legacy: From Survival to Service

At the age of 87, Ted Reich's life story embodies the essence of Jewish philanthropy—a heartfelt commitment to aiding those in need and nurturing his own community. Ted's deep-rooted philanthropic values find their origins in a tumultuous journey that began in 1939 when, at age one, he, alongside his parents, fled Vienna in the wake of Hitler's invasion of Austria. 

They had a beautiful apartment by the park, a summer home, and a factory with good business in Vienna. But their path from that point on was far from straightforward. Initially unable to find refuge in Israel and faced with a daunting 10-year waitlist to enter the United States, the Reich family embarked on a precarious journey. They made fleeting stops in Latvia and Sweden, their lives marked by uncertainty and displacement. Eventually, the Reichs entered the United States when Ted was three years old. “When we moved there, suddenly, we had nothing,” Ted said. The family found themselves stripped of everything they once held dear. 

Ted Reich with his parents, Joel and Sabrina in front
of their house in the Sunset, 1950

His family found their new home in San Francisco’s vibrant Filmore District, a melting pot of Jewish immigrants forging their paths in a new world. Amidst the bustling streets of the new neighborhood, Ted observed the profound bonds that wove the Jewish community together. “Many immigrant rabbis opened their homes to the community like private synagogues,” he recalled. The interconnectedness of this tight-knit community revealed itself in unexpected ways. “A man who had worked in my grandfather’s shoe company in Vienna also immigrated to San Francisco, and that man’s son had a department store chain and got my father his first job in the United States. We were very lucky.” 

Ted holds a conviction that transcends the boundaries of the Jewish community. 
He firmly believes that today's political climate underscores the importance of aiding everyone, irrespective of their background or beliefs. “There is so much antisemitism right now, and it’s a good thing to help everyone,” said Ted. He takes pride in recounting a pivotal chapter of his life: being among the pioneering landlords in San Francisco who opened their doors to African-American tenants. This act wasn't just about housing; it was a reflection of the values instilled in him by his parents, values that place ethics at the forefront, particularly in business. Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, which has seen him involved in diverse enterprises, Ted consistently upheld the principle of caring for his employees. His actions mirrored his commitment to a more inclusive and compassionate world, where the welfare and well-being of all people, regardless of their origins, remained paramount.

With a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the Jewish community, Ted learned that it was possible to receive income while leaving a lasting legacy.
That led him to the creation of a charitable gift annuity (CGA) in partnership with the Federation. As he continues to shape his philanthropic vision, Ted is making another gift by establishing a second CGA, a testament to the betterment of the community he cares about. “I like that the Federation supports Jewish organizations and the non-Jewish community in many ways, and that is part of why I chose to set up my CGA there.”

Ted's CGA has made him a member of the Centennial Living Legacy Society, playing a role in supporting the Federation's $250 million Centennial Campaign dedicated to safeguarding the Jewish community's future. His enduring bond with the Federation extends far beyond this generous gesture. Over the course of many decades, Ted has been a dedicated supporter including assisting Larry Myers, a close friend and former board president, in spearheading fundraising endeavors. 

Ted and Valerie Reich

Ted and Valerie, who have shared a remarkable 65 years of marriage, fondly joke that they haven’t had any children, “yet.” However, their legacy will be one of profound generosity, as they have decided to direct their entire estate toward charitable causes. With some unpredictable income streams, a CGA offers Ted and Valerie reliable, fixed, lifetime income.

Ted candidly shared his thoughts, contemplating the uncertainties of the future, saying, “With the way the world is going, I’m not confident about things being fine all the time. But with the CGA, I get some tax benefits, an income stream for Valerie, and I know I’m doing a good thing for the whole community.”

A CGA is a commonly utilized charitable tool that offers financial advantages, including tax benefits and the comforting knowledge of positively impacting the community. For Federation donors, it is not just a financial choice but a commitment to the greater good. 

In exchange for a gift, the Federation commits to paying you (and up to one additional beneficiary) fixed income for life. Other benefits may include an income tax deduction when the gift is made, partially tax-free payments, and favorable treatment of capital gains for gifts of appreciated assets. For more about the Federation’s CGA program, the Centennial Campaign, or other ways to leave a legacy to the Jewish community, please contact Steve Brown, Senior Director, Gift Planning and Endowments at steveb@sfjcf.org.


December 19, 2023


Steve Brown