Featured Stories

How I Discovered Tikkun Olam Through Philanthropy


Leonard Cordes may have come from modest beginnings growing up in Montreal, Canada, the son of a supervisor at the Borden Milk Company and homemaker, but he has made it his life’s mission to become and accomplish much more. The 87-year-old Palm Beach County and MorseLife resident, and author of “How I Discovered Tikkun Olam Through Philanthropy,” admits his goal early on in life was to rise above his simple start and succeed. Ultimately that goal evolved into his life’s mission or reason for living: ‘tikkun olam’ – which translates to world repair in Hebrew.

“I was able to succeed despite poverty,” Cordes recently explained from his new apartment in The Tradition of the Palm Beaches, a 144-unit independent and assisted living residence and Jewish senior retirement community in West Palm Beach, which falls under MorseLife services.

He and his wife of 65-plus years, Mary, moved to The Tradition last year and describe the location as offering a plethora of cultural and educational opportunities – perfect for an author and booklover like him.

“Even as a kid, I delivered bread for ten cents an hour. I didn’t want to live not knowing where the next buck was coming from. And I wanted to have enough so that I could give to others.”

Cordes’ drive to give to others is ultimately what led him to write his book with the help of Bruce Shutan, a journalist of 30 years. The book is written in the first person and chronicles Cordes’ journey through life, his commitment to family and Judaism, and his love for philanthropy. He shares personal stories of growing up in Canada, working as a chartered accountant, owning and operating nursing homes in Florida, raising children with his wife, giving back to deserving charities and organizations, and their travel to Israel.

Woven throughout is Cordes’ mission of healing or how he as an individual as helped to repair the world. He attributes his way of life primarily to his parents and the fact that he’s truly charitable by nature. He doesn’t see any other way. He also gives credit to organizations like the Jewish Federations of North America, including the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.

“When you are in trouble, you go there for help,” Cordes said. “The Jewish Federation was always an example for me to follow.”

As the Golden Rule says: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And Cordes has tested that rule to the limits – donating thousands of dollars to countless organizations, including the American arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – a non-sectarian university with a student population of 23,000 from more than 50 countries. As a result of the Cordes family’s commitment to the university, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Leonard D. and Mary Cordes Scholarship was established and the couple was granted an Honorary Fellowship.

Cordes goes on to explain that when he was a young professional looking for a career, his uncle (an accountant as well) took him under his wing and trained him. It’s that same gift of teaching and giving that he hopes to bestow upon others.

“It’s definitely catchy sometimes,” Cordes adds. “I would do something charitable, and then my friends would do something good for others, and so-on. It’s amazing to see and feel the power of helping one another.” But Cordes also admits that human nature takes over for some and not everyone sees it as he does. He confesses, “Not everyone wants to help.”

But then again – as Cordes would point out – hence the bigger need for tikkun olam.

Long Term Care: The Highest Standards of Care

Call: 561.471.5111

Morse Geriatric Center is a not-for-profit, non-sectarian, 280-bed long-term care facility designed and dedicated to serving the elderly in Palm Beach County. Morse Geriatric Center is also a teaching facility, with an expert medical team that includes:

* A Board-certified, fellowship-trained geriatrician who serves as Medical Director Geriatric nurse practitioners

* Registered and licensed practical nurses

* Certified Nursing Assistants

* Social Workers

* Physical, occupational and speech-language therapists

* Therapeutic recreation professionals

Morse Geriatric Center has received the Gold Seal Award from the State of Florida, Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care. The Gold Seal Award was established in 2002 to recognize Florida nursing homes that consistently demonstrate exceptionally high standards and quality of care.

Kramer Senior Services, Inc., a subsidiary of MorseLife which receives funding in part from the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, offers home health care services to clients throughout Palm Beach County to enable them to live independently in the comfort of their own homes. Our staff members assist clients with the daily activities of life to ensure that they can safely age in place in their homes.

To help seniors “age in place” at home, MorseLife also offer these services:

* Companion services, light housekeeping and meal preparation

* Personal care

* Geriatric case management

* Adult day centers

* Kosher Meals-On-Wheels

For those clients needing additional services, MorseLife also offers short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, and independent and assisted living residences. Kramer accepts private pay, long term care insurance and Medicaid waiver. Grant funding may also be available. For more information about MorseLIfe, which provides the highest standards of geriatric care, please call: 561.471.5111 and/or visit www.morselife.org.

Get in Touch

The Jewish Federation of
Palm Beach County

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Building
1 Harvard Circle, Suite 100
West Palm Beach, FL 33409
Contact Us

Site Map | Terms | Privacy
Responsibilities of Providers

Powered by ARCOS
Design by Plus Three

Stay Connected

Join Our Mailing List

Follow us on:


Your gift to Federation touches the lives of Jews living in the greater Palm Beaches, Israel and 65 countries around the world.