Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee nets $1.15M bequest

HERALD STAFF REPORTSeptember 28, 2013 


MANATEE -- The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has received a bequest of $1.15 million from Sarasota resident Robert Michelson, who died in April.

The funds will be used to provide scholarships to Jewish and Christian students to attend post-secondary schools through the Robert Michelson Interfaith Scholarship Fund.

"While Robert left JFSM an extremely generous gift upon his passing, this is not a story about money," said Marty Haberer, associate executive director at JFSM. "This is one of those wonderful and rare stories about a modest person who has changed the world with his generosity, selflessness and vision."

Haberer said Mr. Michelson was a Jewish orphan in the northeast who never forgot the skills he was given as a teacher were from Christian mentors. For most of his life, he taught electrical skills in vocational schools in Boston.

"He was so proud of his craft that he brought the original letters from his students, colleagues and supervisors to the JFSM office for all to see," said Haberer. "Robert was also a dignified veteran of World War II. One of his greatest concerns was that he received a Jewish funeral and be buried in a military cemetery. He wanted to make certain he could leave a legacy for the Jewish heritage he felt such pride in, as well as provide for the Christian community that had been so kind to him."

In honor of Mr. Michelson's generous bequest, Federation leadership has renamed its college scholarship program the Michelson Scholarship Program, funded by many, including the Robert Michelson Interfaith Scholarship Fund.

"For decades, this scholarship program has been doing very important work," said Haberer. "It provided vital college and vocational scholarships to local Jewish teenagers. Through Mr. Michelson's generosity and directive, it will be infused with new scholarship gifts annually so that an equal number of Jewish and Christian students will receive post-secondary school scholarships."

Information: 941-371-4546 or visit

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