Begin the New Year with an inspiring Campaign Kickoff

by | Aug 10, 2018 | Featured

An annual reminder of what it means to be Jewish, this year the High Holidays get their ‘ jump start’ on September 1 with the joyful Selichot services. The following Thursday, another motivator to start 5779 on a positive note—inspiring personal growth and commitment to one’s self as well as to the greater Jewish community—takes place at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign Kickoff.

Izzy Ezagui, a one-armed sharp shooter in the IDF reserves and author of Disarmed: Unconventional Lessons from the World’s Only One-Armed Special Forces Sharpshooter is the event’s featured speaker. (See article on page 11.) Ezagui’s story is one of perseverance, motivation, and inspiration—perfect for launching the Campaign with the theme, ‘It All Starts With You.’

In addition to hearing from Ezagui and embarking on the Campaign, the evening includes the start of both the Patron of the J Campaign and The Lee & Bernard Jaffe* Family Jewish Book Festival, in partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

“I am so honored to once again be the chair of our Annual Campaign,” says Laura Gross. “I want to express my sincere appreciation to all of the generous donors in our community who provide support each and every day to meet both local and overseas needs. As we kickoff our 2019 Campaign, let’s remember that each and every one of us can make a difference in helping those in need, because, ‘It All Starts With You.’”

John Strelitz, UJFT president, and Gross know the 2019 Annual Campaign goals appear challenging: to build on the success of the past year’s Campaign of $4.633-million, increase donor and community involvement, and cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Still, they feel the goals are possible to accomplish, because it is so important to do so.

“The needs and challenges in Tidewater’s Jewish community, on college campuses, and throughout the nation are great,” says Gross. “Around the world, in Tel Aviv and Kiryat Yam and Budapest and Argentina and London—problems don’t go away. It is critical that we do our part.”

Campaign Kickoff marks the official start to the programs, conversations, and fundraising efforts which are part of the 2019 Annual Campaign. Funds raised during the Campaign support area Jewish agencies such as Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, Beth Sholom Village, scholarships for local schools and summer camps, and vulnerable Jewish populations abroad, in addition to many other programs, organizations, and congregations.

“This summer’s community mission to Israel was so energizing as we had the opportunity to see many of the programs our community supports that make a huge difference there,” says Strelitz. “As we kick-off our 2019 Annual Campaign, we need everyone’s involvement to support the many needs within our local community, as well as those overseas.”

“I see Campaign kickoff as a time where the community can come together and re-affirm to each other why what we do is important,” says Jason S. Hoffman, Campaign co-chair. “I also see it as a time, being so close to the High Holidays, as an opportunity to reflect on what my role and responsibility as an individual and fellow Jew is to the community and to each other.”

With the renewal and insight that comes during High Holiday observations and celebrations, and inspiration from Ezagui and community members, Strelitz says anyone and everyone may begin immediately to help create a Jewish future.

“Attend Kickoff,” Strelitz says, “for a fresh start to the Jewish New Year, while helping to alleviate hunger and hardship and open doors to opportunity. Become part of an organization where, together, we are creating a Jewish future.”

The free and open to the community event begins with a cocktail reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres.

For more information, contact Amy Zelenka at or 757-965- 6139. RSVP online at

*of blessed memory