Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Frances Eizenstat, Jewish Activist and Non-Profit Leader, Dies at 68

Frances Carol Eizenstat, a social-justice activist and Jewish non-profit leader, has died at 68.

Frances Eizenstat

Eizenstat, who was married to Stuart Eizenstat, combined a life of professional accomplishment focused on the disadvantaged in the U.S., and on Jews in distress around the world, especially in the former Soviet Union, with a deep commitment to Judaism and the State of Israel.

She worked in a variety of jobs focused on helping low-income Americans achieve the American dream. These included working in the Model Cities program (1968-70) in Atlanta; the Children’s Defense Fund with Marion Wright Edelman in Washington; a leader of the White House Conference on Families (1979-81), where she helped shape federal programs to strengthen low income families; and after earning her MBA, serving as a Housing Manager in the low income housing section at FNMA

Fran Eizenstat made her greatest mark in the non-profit sector. Fran Eizenstat developed the first screening program for Tay Sachs disease, a malady particularly affecting children of Ashkenazic Jewish women, as Vice President of the Atlanta chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). Fran Eizenstat created and co-chaired the Atlanta Institute of Jewish Studies as a part of the Atlanta Bureau of Jewish Education and chaired the Institute with her husband and they would get over 300 people a week across the Jewish denominational spectrum for more than a dozen courses.

In 1972, Fran Eizenstat was a senior leader of the Andrew Young for Congress campaign, leading the grassroots organization on the north side of Georgia’s 5th congressional district, and playing an indispensable role in electing the first African-American to Congress since Reconstruction.

Her non-profit leadership took on national and international dimensions when she moved with her husband, Stuart Eizenstat, to Washington, when he became Chief Domestic Policy Adviser to President Jimmy Carter. She served for two terms on the national board of directors of Mazon, the Jewish response to hunger.

During the Clinton Administration, as the wife of the Ambassador to the European Union, Fran Eizenstat pushed to make the ambassador’s residence the first kosher residence in the history of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

For the past 12 years, Fran Eizenstat served on the international board of directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which serves Jews in distress around the world. She has been an indefatigable member of the board, participating in trips from Argentina and Russia to Israel.

For the past four years, she has served on the board of directors of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which has sponsored “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin”, a concert drama which honors the courage of the Jewish prisoner choir and its leader Rafael Schechter at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during the Holocaust.

She is survived by her husband of 45 years, two surviving children, Jay Eizenstat and Brian Eizenstat, and seven grandchildren.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.