Visionary philanthropists Milly z’’l and Herb z’’l Iris shared a passion to nurture future generations of leaders for our Jewish community.
Herb was the consummate builder: a real estate developer by profession, and a builder of Jewish community as a long-time leader and tireless fundraiser for our Federation. Milly was a philanthropist, art collector, and gallery owner for more than 30 years.
Together, Herb and Milly named The Iris Family Early Childhood Education Center and The Iris Family Center for Jewish Living at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange.
Following Herb’s passing in 2006, Milly and the Iris family, friends, community leaders, and business associates contributed more than $1 million to an endowment in Herb’s memory. Milly and her daughters set out to honor Herb’s legacy of building a stronger Jewish future by creating the Iris Teen Tzedakah program and establishing a mission for the fund to promote Jewish philanthropy, activism, and involvement by Jewish teens and their families. Since 2006, Iris Teen advisors have allocated more than $250,000 in earnings from the endowment and the participants’ own contributions to Jewish organizations locally, in Israel, and around the world.
Milly helped guide and nurture the Iris Teen program for many years and developed strong personal connections with many of the teenagers, right up until her passing in 2014.
Today, the Herb and Milly Iris Youth and Family Philanthropy Fund continues under the leadership of Herb and Milly’s daughters, Kerry Iris and Roree Iris-Williams, and supports Iris Teen Tzedakah and other innovative teen programs in Greater MetroWest.
In addition to their philanthropic support and championing of teen leadership initiatives, Milly and Iris were generous supporters of our Federation’s UJA Annual Campaign and were among the early members and supporters of the William and Betty Lester Society, recognizing donors who generously establish a Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE) of $100,000 or greater.
In honor of Centennial, Herb and Milly’s two daughters, Roree Iris-Williams and Kerry Iris, and their families, made a $100,000 gift in honor of their parents’ legacy to our community. Due to the extensive prior endowment gifts from the family, the Iris family together is recognized at the $1 million (Benefactors) level in our Centennial Campaign.
A portion of the Centennial gift is a sponsorship of two Centennial events in memory of Milly and Herb: the Next Gen Spring Event and the Celebrating 100 Years Through Community Art.
“These events represent key parts of our parents legacy: our mother’s commitment to the arts and bringing that to the broader community, and both of our parents’ commitment to investing in the next generation of Jewish leadership,” said Kerry Iris.
“Our parents always taught us: ‘Look beyond yourself and DO Something’” Roree Iris-Williams said. “That message lives on in the Iris Teen program and in our family.”