2017-12-06 / Home

Seven SNJ staff and lay leaders inspired at Federation General Assembly

By DAVID PORTNOE Voice Editor


Joining 3,000 fellow Jews from across North America at the JFNA General Assembly in Los Angeles were (from left), Federation Director of Philanthropy Martha Karasick, Federation Leadership Institute Chair Missy Wayne, and Federation CEO Jennifer Dubrow Weiss. Joining 3,000 fellow Jews from across North America at the JFNA General Assembly in Los Angeles were (from left), Federation Director of Philanthropy Martha Karasick, Federation Leadership Institute Chair Missy Wayne, and Federation CEO Jennifer Dubrow Weiss. This year’s General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America heard from many insightful speakers, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Rabbi David Wolpe, and workshops and panel discussions on a range of issues affecting Jewish life and philanthropy. Held in Los Angeles Nov. 12-14, the 86th annual GA was attended by seven local people who described an amazing experience, but who also brought back valuable information that will benefit the Jewish community here in Southern New Jersey. Over 3,000 people attended this year’s GA, which had as its theme, “Venture Further.”

“This year’s GA was full of insights and cutting edge philosophy, which I am thrilled to say our community has been on the cusp of for about a year now. Impact funding, venture philanthropy and giving circles are the future of fundraising,” noted Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey CEO Jennifer Dubrow Weiss.

Weiss added that the coming generations of donors would no longer look to institutionalized giving or “silos.” “They want to see the impact of their gift and engagement. We need to refocus our aim to ensure our community will thrive into the future and flourish.”

At the GA, Weiss presented on Aleph Health Care, an innovative Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey program which generates income to benefit Jews throughout the community. “There were close to 200 people in the room… people came to learn how to generate revenue to supplement traditional campaigns,” said Weiss, who added that Federations from across the country were interested in replicating Aleph in their communities.

“Watching Jen speak about Aleph to so many Jewish educators, executives and community members, was one of the proudest moments in my career,” said Robyn Kaplan, Federation’s Aleph director. “They were intrigued with the model and how much growth Aleph had over four years.”

“This was my first GA and I had no idea what to expect,” said Kaplan. “My expectations were blown away. Being in a convention with so many Jewish people who spend every day trying to enhance the Jewish community was extraordinary.”

Missy Wayne, also attending her first GA, was honored to be able to share the experience with fellow local lay leaders and staff. She attended as the recipient of funds through being honored with Federation’s Shellie Greenspan Young Leadership Award. She said that attending the GA was a great opportunity to learn and grow and see the “big picture.”

“Although I knew that the Jewish Federations of North America helped our local communities and communities around the world, and I was aware of our allocations to the JDC and JAFI, I did not really ‘feel’ or understand the incredible global impact,” said Wayne. “The amount of passion and commitment I saw with my own eyes as we were inspired by many leaders, both young and more senior, with varying perspectives, offered an opportunity like nothing I have had before,” she said.

The current chair of the Federation Leadership Institute (FLI), Wayne said that she is fortunate to have had this experience. “I’ve come home even more connected to and motivated to support Federation as the convener in the greater Jewish community.”

“It is always valuable to hear top speakers from around the world talk about the future of the Jewish community,” said Vicki Zell, executive director of the Raymond & Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation and past Federation president. A JFNA board member, Zell was honored with the opportunity to give the D’var Torah at the Intermediate Federations meeting. At the GA, Zell was able to gain insight into Millennials. She noted that approximately 800 of the GA’s participants were under the age of 45.

Charlene Green, a learning specialist with Federation’s Center for Impact and Innovation attending her first GA, said that it was truly motivating to hear from dedicated individuals who are all working to enhance, engage and inspire the global Jewish community. “We need to continue to ‘Teach Judaism Jewishly,’ and as Jewbelong.com references, avoid Jewbarressment by breaking down technical barriers and including everyone in our rich history.”

“Being new to the Federation family, I found the GA to be impactful in so many ways,” said Jennifer Capozzoli, a Federation development officer. “The sessions about donors and divisiveness and Millennials resonated with me most. I learned about how we need to remind donors that we are about social services, and not political advocacy. Even though our community has political differences, Social Action/Tikkun Olam is where everybody can unite.” She cited a mission to Charlottesville or a Shabbat dinner to raise money for Puerto Rico as examples of programs that speak to everyone, but particularly Millennials.

“Having been to several other GAs, I felt that JFNAs goal was truly to make this conference one of innovation and change. It certainly was not business as usual,” said Martha Karasick, Federation’s director of philanthropy. “Statements from presenters and panelists talking about Federation needing to make donors feel included and valued and meeting our new donors where they are was the overriding message,” she said.

Karasick attended a workshop led by JFNA consultant Andrea Wasserman. “Her workshop, entitled ‘The Future of Women’s Giving,’ really highlighted the unprecedented communal opportunities and imperatives we must heed.”

“A truly significant fact that I learned was that many women will inherit twice—from their parents and from their spouses or partners. Women will inherit 70 percent of the $41-trillion in intergenerational wealth that is expected to change hands over the next 40 years,” said Karasick. 

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