Nancy Jacobson Freedman enjoyed an iconic and idyllic southern Jewish girlhood in the Atlanta of the 1950s and ’60s. As the daughter of Jewish community pillars, Harvey and Betty Ann Jacobson, Nancy participated in all organizations and social institutions that defined Jewish Atlanta — BBYO, the JCC on Peachtree Road, the early years of Camp Barney, The Temple, The Standard Club, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, the Brandeis University Women’s Committee, and so much more.
Being Jewish was at the center of her life. Yet in an era when assimilation was giving way to deeper levels of Jewish observance the harsh lessons of history remained fresh for Atlanta Jews. “The Leo Frank lynching was embedded in our collective memory. We knew there were restricted clubs that did not accept Jews. I was in kindergarten when The Temple bombing happened. I will never forget how it galvanized our community. At the same time, I’ll never forget how the non-Jewish community supported us. After the bombing, churches and schools opened their doors to us for services and Sunday school classes. These were wonderful lessons in community generosity.”
Today, these lessons learned, and the commitments made by her family live on. Nancy Freedman has blazed her own philanthropic path, serving on numerous agency boards around Atlanta, truly “walking the walk” of her family’s values. She is winding down an education fund launched years ago by her uncle, Joe Jacobs. And she and her husband Wayne steward the family’s donor-advised fund (DAF) at Atlanta Jewish Foundation. “It means everything to us that this fund continues to support the things Mom and Dad believed in. Cindy Weik has handled our DAF for years and she makes the grant process so easy. The professional staff does a fantastic job and gives good guidance.”
“My mother was the first woman president of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. She was tough, a driving force. You couldn’t say ‘no’ to Betty Ann Jacobson! My father was quieter, but also a tremendous role model who was active in Federation, chaired many committees and was devoted to the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology. He and my mother were partners in all of these community activities. It’s no wonder that after college I became a Federation campaign volunteer.” Nancy also served on the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet, won the Abe Schwartz Young Leadership award, and worked as a campaign professional at Federation under David Sarnat up until her children were born.
All three of Freedman’s children went to The Epstein School which became another arena for the family’s engagement and learning. “I wanted my kids to be more knowledgeable than I was. I’m proud that they know how to run a service and speak Hebrew. When they were young, we were active at the Zaban Night Shelter and the Shearith Israel Shelter. Wayne and I have tried to impart to our kids that we are blessed, and that it is our obligation to make sure that others who don’t have what we have are helped. I try hard to be pro-active with my kids about getting involved in community service and giving back not just your time, but your money as well.”
“Atlanta Jewish Foundation is a perfect way to accomplish these goals. We love that our financial advisor can manage our donor-advised fund. I trust them! When you invest at the Foundation, you’re supporting the whole community. That’s what Mom and Dad were all about!”