2016-03-02 / Columns

Florida Reunion highlights connection snowbirds have with South Jersey

FEDERATION 411
JENNIFER DUBROW WEISS
Jewish Federation CEO

A few weeks ago, we traveled down to Florida with the Jewish Community Foundation, Inc. (JCF) for their annual Florida Reunion. This trip is such a great opportunity to reconnect with our South Jersey community members who spend the winter in Florida. It’s also another opportunity to work with JCF in planning for the future of our community, securing Life & Legacy and endowment gifts to better position the Jewish Federation family of agencies for future growth and sustainability in the years and decades to come.

We joined JCF for two programs during the Florida Reunion: An evening at Gallery 22, owned and operated by sculptor and artist Yaacov Heller, in Boca Raton, and a day trip to The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. Both events were a great mix of fun and education for our guests—and us! We heard from Yaacov Heller himself about his work with heads of state from both Israel and the United States. We heard from local philanthropist Marleen Forkas on her experience supporting the Boca Raton community. And, we heard from our own President Vicki Zell and JCF Vice President Sydria Schaffer about what was happening back here in South Jersey.

Aside from these two events, we had a number of one-on-one meetings with donors and community leaders during our four days in Florida, and even confirmed three new Sharks for our upcoming Community Shark Tank! We care about our donors and want to keep them feeling connected to our South Jersey community. We also bumped into Nanette Fridman, our consultant for the Community Shark Tank and Pop 2 implementation. Nanette is not only working with the Jewish Federation, but also with both of our local day schools. She was down in Florida to speak for their Federation, but took the time to discuss the beauty and excitement that exists in our community. The energy in South Jersey is thriving and palpable. Wherever we go, people look to our community to set an example for programming, fundraising, and services. It gives us great pride to run into Nanette and hear such positive feedback. While we have so many opportunities and challenges ahead of us as a community, we are strong and vibrant.

South Jersey is never far from the hearts of the people we see each year at the Florida Reunion. Even though they split their time between New Jersey and Florida, each is still an active participant in our South Jersey community and wants what’s best for it—and for the Jewish Federation family of agencies. The roots of all of us are here in South Jersey and they are deep and loving.

It warms my heart to know that the ties that bind all of us in this community are tighter than our geographic location. And it brings me great pleasure to be able to speak and educate and advocate on behalf of our South Jersey community. Home is where the heart is and the heart is in South Jersey. . jweiss@jfedsnj.org

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