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Couple having a blast “giving while living”

Resource type: News

Cleveland Jewish News | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Cornell University is an Atlantic grantee.

By ARLENE FINE, Senior Staff Reporter

Jane and Lee Seidman made headlines last week for pledging $6 million to Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital to help fund a new 72-bed patient tower at the Mayfield Heights hospital. This donation is just one of many in the duo’s long history of giving.

The Pepper Pike residents take philanthropy very seriously. Soon after Lee began selling off the bulk of his Motorcars dealerships eight years ago, the couple attended a seminar on thoughtful giving, driven by the premise “first you accumulate, then you allocate,” says Lee Seidman. The couple “studied, pondered and agonized” over potential organizations to receive their support and finally made their decission

“After we selected our eight organizations, we excluded all other worthwhile causes we had previously supported,” he explains. “That was a hard thing to do. It is much easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no,’ but that was a path we were on.”

The organizations on the Seidman’s giving list are: the Cleveland Clinic; University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cancer Center; Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland; Suburban Temple- Kol Ami; Cornell University; St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital; Massachusetts General Hospital; and American ORT.

The Seidman family has now pledged a total of $23 million to Cleveland Clinic – the family had previously given the hospital $17 million to endow a chair in functional neurosurgery and to advanced research and patient care in the areas dealing with the heart and the brain.

“When Jane and I say we are having fun giving our money away, that is an understatement,” says Seidman. “This has made us happier than we ever anticipated. We intend to keep ‘giving while living’ so we can enjoy the experience. We don’t want to leave millions of dollars in an estate to be taxed.”

Seidman, whose first job was shoveling snow at 25 cents a driveway, says he and his wife learned the beauty of giving back to the community from their families.

“Our parents taught us the value of money, hard work, a good education, and the importance of helping others,” he says. This same message is being passed down to the couples’ six children and nine grandchildren. “And we are encouraging our friends to go down this charitable path with us,” he adds. “We believe in leading by example.”