2018-08-15 / Columns

Local women are taking the lead in building our Jewish community

Jewish Federation CEO

Caring. Connection. Community.

These are the words that come to mind when I think about the women of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. We care about those in need; we connect to our culture and heritage to strengthen that bond; and we work tirelessly for our community. By volunteering, giving, creating, and educating, the women in this community inspire me every single day—and give me hope for a bright future for my own daughters, who have grown up to see these amazing women drive change.

We recently hosted “Friends, Philanthropy & Mindfulness,” where we continued the conversation from Randi Zuckerberg’ s book “Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day).” Randi talked a little about her book at our Event for Women back in May and we were all intrigued with the concept. We picked “mindfulness” as one of our three and had an introduction on how meditation can positively influence our busy lives. What a great, intimate experience for our friends from The Event for Women.

We are so grateful for the women philanthropists in our community who work to make the world a better place, uniting women through friendship, learning, and the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Tzedakah (charity).

Our Women’s Giving Circle, for example, is a relatively new program, with the goal of raising money and engaging more women in our community. The members pool their contributions and other resources, and then decide together which programs and services they wish to collectively support. By allocating dollars to the causes that resonate most with them, this group of women have identified vulnerable women, children, and families as issues they care about and want to donate to. Our giving circle can be very empowering for those who want to give to specific causes, and want to see their dollars working for their community in a tangible way.

The Lions of Judah is another collective of strong women of all ages, who care deeply about the Jewish future—an international sisterhood of thousands of global activists. They play a vital role in creating social justice, aiding the vulnerable, preserving human dignity, and building Jewish identity. They demonstrate their dedication to the Jewish community by contributing their time and resources.

The Lion of Judah symbolizes strength, honor, and dedication for the Tribe of Judah, the dominant tribe of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and it continues to reflect those values today. Women who are Lions of Judah are leading their peers through generosity, strength, and vision. The Lions of Judah set an exemplary standard of leadership and giving with a minimum annual donation of $5,000. I am so excited to say that our very own immediate past president, Vicki Zell, will be honored at the International Lion of Judah Conference this January! She is a leader in this community, both as a volunteer and as a professional, and truly embodies what it means to be a Lion.

Feeling even stronger about helping the community, a group of Lion of Judah donors formed the Jewish Women’s Foundation (JWF), believing that together, they could create opportunities to bring positive change to the lives of Jewish women and girls. JWF is much like a giving circle, in that the women seek to engage in strategic grant-making to fund programs that aim to improve the lives of Jewish women and girls in South Jersey and around the world.

These women are the powerful, strong individuals that I want my daughters to look up to. They are role models for all young girls, and always have been. This is the community I want to be a part of—the community I want it to be. For my daughters, and everyone’s, for generations to come. jweiss@jfedsnj.org

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