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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 © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


July 15, 2016  RSS feed

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Federation selects new officers and board, aims for big changes with small actions

By Bob Fryer Jewish Press

Aliza Norstein, Ludin Award winner Aliza Norstein, Ludin Award winner Small actions can bring about big changes.

That was the essence of a presentation by Emilie Socash, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, at the Federation’s annual meeting last month.

The meeting featured “FED Talks” modeled after the TED talks that are popular on YouTube, where speakers present an often fastpaced lecture on a singular or unusual topic.

Socash’s FED Talk was “The Big Shift Underway” but the means for making big changes for the Federation, she believes, is by doing the small things right.

“Go small to go big,” Socash said. “What do I mean by this? I mean that it’s our smallest efforts that are yielding the biggest results.”

She added, “There is a longing for meaningful, personal, one-on-one or small group connection in all our organizations.”

Steve Klein Steve Klein Just as people connect for neighborhood watches or other events within their immediate community, she said there is a desire for Jewish events – even if they are small – that are nearby.

The shift to meet these needs is already under way, she said, explaining that there has been an effort on the part of the Federation to provide more one-on-one meetings over coffee or lunch with Federation members, forums on current issues, or a variety of neighborhood PJ Library reading sessions or MakeTime Lego events that include parents and children.

She said soon she hopes there will be a Federation mobile or web app that will offer a world of information on local Jewish events, as well as other local, national and world news of interest to Jews. Additionally, she said the Federation board has set aside funds to send teens on programs to learn more about Israel and to have them share what they learned.

“We are creating a community of imagination; a community that can look within and look ahead and say, ‘We are a model for Jewish experience,’” Socash said.

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, also presented a FED Talk, noting that the most common experiences by Jews in America is not a religious experience such as a Seder or Shabbat service, or even eating a kosher meal. “College is the most shared experience; 95 percent of Jews in America attend college,” he said.

He said college students today face a different reality than their counterparts in the past. Today Jewish college students are less Jewishly educated, less religious, and “Israel has about as much relevance as Thailand. The Six Day War is as relevant to them as Bunker Hill.”

The challenge for Hillel is to engage with these students, because being Jewish for them “is not a condition, but an option.” He said there is no room for old school thinking when it comes to getting those students to exercise that option.

Dr. Sandra Braham, executive director of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, spoke about transitions from one era to another and how between eras, such as now, there is a period of transition in which institutions from the earlier era do not work well. She said this applies to health care, Social Security, educational systems. She said new leadership is needed and that means “bringing people to the table who do not look and think like we do; who may make us uncomfortable, but tell us what we need to hear.”

Ludin Young Leadership Award

One highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Dr. Edward N. Ludin Young Leadership Award, which this year went to Aliza Norstein.

Last year’s Ludin Award winner, Randall Weinberg, presented the award to Norstein.

He described her as an active member of the Young Adult Division, an advocate for Israel and a Federation board member. A staff member for Israel Bonds, she has signed up for the Life & Legacy philanthropic program.

Federation leadership

Steve Klein was introduced as the new president of the Federation. Klein currently serves on boards for Menorah Manor, Florida Gulf Coast Commercial Association of Realtors and the Better Business Bureau of West Florida. In the past he has served on the board for the Temple B’nai Israel Brotherhood and Morton Plant Mease Foundation Corporate Associates. He is married to Amy Klein and the couple has two children.

Joining Klein on the executive committee are Margot Benstock, immediate past president, Hal Hershkowitz, treasurer and Norstein, secretary.

Other new board members for the Federation are Ezra Singer, Claire Stiglitz, Jan Sher, Rabbi Daniel Treiser and Ellie Geier. They will join board members Dadiv Bernstein, Sheri Frogel, Eric Lynn, Karen Reich, Toni Rinde, Brian Rolfe, Les Rubin and Steve Schwersky.

As the new president, Klein gave a brief report on the highlights of the past year, including surpassing the $1 million mark for the Annual Campaign for the first time in years, receiving $50,000 in grants and $20 ,000 in sponsorships, and signing up many new pledges to the campaign.

Big highlights include the revival of the Main Event gala and reconstituting committees for the Young Adult Division, Maimonides and the Cardozo Society. The Federation also joined a new philanthropy program, launched the Make Time Lego program and offered innovation grants to Jewish organizations in the community. He said new cooperation with synagogues helped expand the list of those who receive the Jewish Press and said new front-page ads in the Jewish Press promote Federation events and programs.

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