Kalamazoo Shul Gets $10.5 Million In Bequests

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congregation-of-mosesThe Congregation of Moses, the Conservative Jewish synagogue in Kalamazoo, is the beneficiary of unprecedented bequests from two lifelong synagogue members in amounts totaling $10.5 million.

The bequests came from the estates of Irving Schensul (1908-2001) and his nephew, Eugene Colef (1926-2016). At the time of his passing in 2001, Schensul bequeathed $500,000 to the congregation while leaving the rest of his estate in a trust to benefit his nephew. When the nephew, Eugene Colef, passed away in July, the balance of the Schensul estate was to be divided between the Congregation of Moses and another local organization. The congregation’s Etz Chaim Endowment Fund will receive approximately $2.5 million from the Schensul estate.

Since Colef had no heirs, his entire estate totaling $8 million was also bequeathed to the congregation through a fund established at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Colef directed that the net income of the fund should be used for “the benefit of needy people” in keeping with the Jewish concept and practice of tikkun olam (repairing the world). The net income from the $2.5 million fund left to the congregation by Schensul will be available for Congregation operations.

Shul President Beth Grode said, “Both gifts will help to make the future of the Congregation of Moses more secure and ensure the success of a strong and vibrant Jewish community in Kalamazoo for generations to come.”

Schensul was born in Kalamazoo and became involved in the family restaurant and entertainment business with his two brothers. He also worked at WKZO for John Fetzer doing weather, commercials and other types of work.

The Congregation of Moses was founded in 1886 and has been in its current location in Kalamazoo for 55 years.

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