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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

May 28, 2010  RSS feed
Federation

Text: T T T

Living Generously: Forward into the Future

Joan Benstock, President Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties

As my term as president of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties comes to an end, I find myself reflecting upon these two tumultuous years. When I accepted the gavel in May, 2008, the economy of our country was mired in the deepest trouble it has seen since the dark days of the Great Depression. What a time to become president of a fund raising organization!

Yet there can be no question - harsh economic times just makes what we do at the Jewish Federation even more important. No matter how poor the economic climate may be, our mission remains the same – to rescue the imperiled, care for the vulnerable and to revitalize Jewish life in Pinellas and Pasco Counties and throughout the world.

To say this past year has been difficult is, at best, an understatement. Rich and poor alike have been hit hard by the harsh economic conditions. We have had turmoil within some of the most well established and entrenched Jewish organizations in our area. We have had major donors unable to give this year, and we have had previously middle class donors ask for our assistance. In response, the Federation has kept in place the cuts we made last year to salaries, overhead and programming.

Bonnie Friedman, Federation Executive Director, accepts national federation’s Sapir and Community Endowment Awards. Bonnie Friedman, Federation Executive Director, accepts national federation’s Sapir and Community Endowment Awards. But I am not a person who dwells on negativity. As outgoing president, I am heartened by the response of those in our Jewish community who responded to the crises by establishing the matching gift fund, so each new or increased gift could grow larger. I find joy when our young adults, going to enjoy themselves at an event, bring bag loads of food to stock the food pantry at Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services. And finally, I find comfort in the fact that I leave the Federation in the capable hands of incoming president Sheldon Scheinert, a man who is passionate and committed to our mission.

Campaign Kick Off committee with special guest, comedian Freddie Roman. (From L-R) Ilona Kossoff, Sheldon Scheinert, Toni Rinde, Margot Benstock, Joan Benstock, Adam Lopatin, Roman, Steve Klein, Dan Frenden, Jonathan Bowman and Brian Fox. Campaign Kick Off committee with special guest, comedian Freddie Roman. (From L-R) Ilona Kossoff, Sheldon Scheinert, Toni Rinde, Margot Benstock, Joan Benstock, Adam Lopatin, Roman, Steve Klein, Dan Frenden, Jonathan Bowman and Brian Fox. I want to thank all of our incredible volunteers, donors and staff members who do what they do from a deep sense of responsibility to their fellow Jews. Although our campaign was down again this year, we were not down as much as we feared. In fact, the generosity of our community has allowed us to continue to fund the programs and projects of our beneficiary organizations at the same level as last year! For this I am deeply appreciative and thankful. Even though our pockets were lighter, we understand that Tzedakah is not mere charity, it is justice. As difficult as these two years have been, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve such a wonderful and important organization as the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

The Federation's Stuart Berger receives a donation from Joshua Frenden as dad Dan Frenden looks on. The Federation's Stuart Berger receives a donation from Joshua Frenden as dad Dan Frenden looks on. Below you will see all that the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties has accomplished with your generous gifts.

ANNUAL CAMPAIGN:

The Annual Campaign remains the main funding source that allows the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties to do what we do – provide for the needs of our community here, in Israel and throughout the world. This year, our Annual Campaign allocated $1,202,000, down from $1,222,000 allocated last year. While this figure was lower than our goal, the drop this year was less than the previous year. Thank you to our lay leaders, donors, volunteers and dedicated Federation staff members who have made sure that, in these very difficult economic circumstances, our benefi ciary organizations have the resources needed to continue their vital work.

Glasses raised at the Main Event with wine expert Micah Halpern. Glasses raised at the Main Event with wine expert Micah Halpern. AWARDS

For the second year in a row, your Jewish Federation was honored with the Sapir Award for Campaign Excellence, and the Community Endowment Excellence Award at the UJC General Assembly.

CHAZAK SOCIETY AND MAJOR GIFTS

In a cost cutting measure, the Chazak Society (for donors who contribute $10,000 or more), and the Major Gifts Division, (for donors who contribute $5,000 or more) events were combined this year. Nearly 40 attendees were briefed by Israeli Deputy Consul General Paul Hirschson on the threat of a nuclear Iran not just to Israel, but to the entire Middle East.

YAD members present Tampa Bay Buccaneers president Joel Glazer with a hat, which has Bucs written in Hebrew. YAD members present Tampa Bay Buccaneers president Joel Glazer with a hat, which has Bucs written in Hebrew. JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL

The JCRC is your Jewish outreach and advocacy division, monitoring local media for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias. In October, your JCRC was instrumental in making sure that the evangelical Christian “Good News Club” discontinued sending home its flyers with elementary school children in St. Petersburg. The JCRC ended the year with over 150 people attending a special meeting with Kamal Saleem, a former PLO terrorist who now tours the country warning audiences about the dangers of radical Islam.

KICK – OFF WITH FREDDIE ROMAN

With the economy down, the annual Federation Kick – Off picked us up! Freddie Roman, a celebrated “Borscht Belt” comedian, treated us to an evening of good clean laughs and yiddishkeit.

MAIMONIDES SOCIETY RECEPTION AND DINNER

More than 100 Maimonides Society and community supporters turned out for the 15th annual Maimonides Society dinner to honor Dr. Gordon Goodman, this year’s recipient of the Alfred Schick MD Memorial award. The award recognizes doctors and other health care professionals for outstanding commitment to our community. Pianist and composer Jon Simon performed a program of jazz interpretations of favorite Jewish melodies. A surprise addition to the entertainment was a superb rendition of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” by honoree Dr. Goodman!

OVERSEAS NEEDS

A vital component of our Jewish Federation is to fund programs concerned with the welfare of Jewish people overseas. This year, your dollars helped fund programs to assist Ethiopian émigrés socialize into Israeli society; provide medical equipment to those in Sderot, to create a home for Israeli soldiers who have no support system, and to provide welfare relief for Jews suffering in the Former Soviet Union.

PARTNERSHIP 2000

Pinellas County again hosted counselors from our partner region in Israel, Hadera - Eiron. This partnership creates many opportunities for our young people to connect to young people in Israel. Camp Kadima is enriched by this exchange. Another highlight this year was the Federation sponsored “Jewish Lens” project that uses photography to teach Jewish values, identity and tradition.

PASCO OUTREACH

The Jewish Federation continued the annual Pasco Outreach event at Fox Hollow Golf Club. Over 60 attended the event that featured singer/impressionist John Timpanelli, who took them on a trip down Broadway’s memory lane. There were also three Happy Hour events throughout the year for Pasco Jewish Professionals.

PJ LIBRARY

The PJ Library, a creation of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation locally sponsored by the Jewish Federation, exists to get Jewish books and music CDs into the hands of all Jewish households with children aged 6 months to 6 years. Locally, nearly two hundred families benefit from this program. Throughout the year, including Yom Ha’atzmaut and Super Sunday, the Federation conducted “The PJ Library Reading Times” for parents and their children.

SHALOM PINELLAS/PASCO

The Shalom program – our “Jewish Welcome Wagon”- provides volunteers to make contact with our new Jewish residents, providing a warm welcome and a gift bag to make them feel at home.

SUPER WEEK

Beginning with “Super Sunday” and ending with Pasco’s “Tzedakah Thursday”, Super Week was indeed super. Over 100 volunteers made calls in support of the Annual Campaign, and raised over $80,000. This year’s “Super Week” was chaired by the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation, and included a Family Friendly afternoon shift that brought out young donors like Joshua Frenden.

WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY

Once again, the women of Pinellas and Pasco Counties donated nearly 50% of the total of our Annual Campaign.

The Lion of Judah luncheon this year featured Gail Norry, a member of the Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees. Ms. Norry spoke of how individuals – with vision, strength and determination – make a difference in so many lives.

The “Women of Distinction” program, an annual event honoring women who serve local Jewish organizations, was attended by over 340 community members. Carole Solomon, the first woman to chair the national United Jewish Appeal, was the featured speaker.

Micah Halpern, the only exclusive Kosher wine reviewer in the Western Hemisphere, delighted over 70 guests at this year’s “Main Event”. After dinner, Mr. Halpern, a well known syndicated columnist, enlightened guests about Iran’s complicated and often misunderstood politics.

YOUNG ADULT DIVISION

The Young Adult Division (YAD) had another active and enjoyable year. Highlights included a trip to the Trop to watch the Rays in July, several “Happy Hour” mixers throughout the year at various local eateries, Bucs training camp hosted by Bryan Glazer in August, and, new this year, a Happy Hour get together at Bay Walk prior to viewing movies of the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival. The year concluded with the third annual “YAD in the Park” party at Largo Central Park that featured rides on the miniature locomotive!

YOUTH GRANTS

Once again, your contributions to the Jewish Federation enabled 16 children to receive “Covenant Fund” scholarships for Jewish sleep away camps or programs to Israel. Many reports indicate that such experiences help keep Jewish children Jewish.

A gift to the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties is a gift to every program listed above and the organizations on the pages to follow. The Annual Campaign continues to provide hope and comfort to Jews at home and abroad through our beneficiary organizations, local agencies and ONAD. The Jewish Federation does so much, but we can’t do it without you! Your goodness and generosity ensures that together, we can go forward into the future with hope

and confidence. Todah Rabah!


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