2016-09-28 / Columns

After two years as president, it is the people who stand out

FEDERATION PRESIDENT’S CORNER
VICKI ZELL
Federation President

As I stare at the computer screen, it is so hard for me to believe that I am writing my last column as the president of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. It is impossible for me to comprehend that two years are already coming to a close.

During these past two years, my daughter Alyssa has been compiling a scrapbook for me. Pulled primarily from the contents of the Voice, it is also sprinkled with photos, programs, and invitations as it chronicles much of what we, our community, have experienced and accomplished together.

The album is filled with new initiatives started just in the past two years, primarily done by the Federation itself, and sometimes in collaboration with our family of agencies. Through our Federation, we created new and varied ways to be engaged Jewishly, like our Lone Soldiers program, the grand opening of The Commons at 1721, JDC and JAFI briefings, the Yad b’Yad Awards, volunteer engagement initiatives, the concierge, Burlington County outreach, our new Advisory Council, lobbying for state funding of security for our day schools, reinstating our Men’s Event, creating the Mobile ReSale Boutique, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, the Special Needs Coalition, partnering with JEVS for career counseling, our Educator Awards, and our phenomenal, innovative Shark Tank program.

At the same time, we continued existing programs and services, such as our Federation Leadership Institute, Aleph Home Care, PJ Library, the Florida reunion with JCF, record breaking Super Sundays, Life and Legacy endowments, practical partnerships though the Presidents Council, getting our high school children to Israel through the Gift of Israel, and providing a leadership pathway for women’s giving through Women’s Philanthropy and our Lions of Judah.

But what can’t be captured in print or in my sentimental scrapbook, is the magic that all of you have brought to my experience as president. When I am asked what I enjoy most about this role, it always comes back to all of you and your love, passion and commitment to our Jewish community.

I started my presidency with the theme, “We Are Building the Future,” inspired by the song written by Jay Rapoport. And that is what we have done. “We are building shelter for those in need. We are building community—our souls to feed. We are building a homeland so all can be free. We are building for you and me…It takes everybody to make it work. It takes different skills we bring. It takes everybody to make the world whole. It takes everyone to make shalom.”

As I close this final column, I ask each of you to continue to be an active part of this amazing organization known as Federation—to do at least one thing for our Jewish community— as we continue to build our future. You will be in the excellent hands of our 41st Federation President, Glenn Fuhrman, to whom I wish all the joy I have received over the past two years.

Thank you to Glenn and my other vice presidents, Michele Ettinger, Neil Levin, Brad Molotsky, and Ivy Rovner, to the other agency, day school and synagogue presidents, staff, clergy and boards with whom I have worked, and to my own passionate Federation board and committee chairs.

Thank you to the tireless Federation staff who have made our vision a reality. Thank you to the Saltzman Foundation and to every donor who supports the Federation so that we can do all the amazing work I have listed above. Thank you to my friends and family, especially Brian, Shanna, Adam and Alyssa, who have listened to me talk about Federation endlessly and be at meetings day and night for far more than two years.

Most of all, thank you to Jennifer Dubrow Weiss who comes to work every day with a smile on her face, a can-do approach, the ability to address and solve endless issues that arise through her strength and out-of-the-box innovative thinking, for her love of this community, and a depth of support and friendship for me that is a gift I will always remember and treasure.

With my deepest gratitude, one last time I am privileged to say — together, we are Federation! s jfedpres@jfedsnj.org

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