Margot Heckman’s dream was for her family and friends to experience Israel. So she structured her estate plan to include a fully funded trip to Israel for her loved ones after her death.
Heckman, a longtime member and volunteer at Washington Hebrew Congregation, died in 2014 at age 84. In July, 47 people — children, grandchildren and close friends — will take the seven-day Margot Heckman Legacy Trip to Israel.
Heckman chose the participants and named them in her will.
“My mom traveled to Israel several times and she became pretty much enamored [of] it, loved going there and supported Israel causes,” said Eric Heckman. “As part of that, she wanted to share her experiences, and to provide the potential for that experience. In her will, she made provisions to get her kids and grandchildren to visit Israel.”
Heckman grew up on 14th and Upshur streets in Washington and attended Theodore Roosevelt High School. She later lived in Bethesda and worked as an interior decorator and manufacturer’s representative, specializing in accessories, art and fine furniture.
She grew more active in the Jewish community after attending a Torah class by Lori Palatnik, founder of Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, said Ayelet Lichtash, founder of Alef Bet Montessori School. The Bethesda school benefits from the Margot Heckman Educational Fund, which provides scholarships for students to attend the school.
The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project in Rockville sends women to Israel, so Heckman told Palatnik that she wanted Palatnik to lead her legacy trip.
“I miss her very much, I loved her, she was larger than life and I want to make her memory larger than life,” said Palatnik. “I hope that people in this trip will be inspired in their own personal way and they take this inspiration and that they take it home to make a difference in their own personal lives, their families and the Jewish community.”
“She was a marvelous, marvelous person, and lived a high-society life,” said Lichtash. “She was so beautiful, like a model from the 1960s. She had dark eyes and was a very attractive woman. After she divorced, she chose to live a more independent life. While she won awards as an interior designer, she started to look for more [from within].”
Any funds remaining after the completion of the trip will be distributed to Aish HaTorah, a Jewish Orthodox organization and yeshiva in Rockville, according to the will.