Federation installs new president and honors community members at biennial meeting

by | Jul 13, 2015 | Featured

The 2015 Biennial of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater was more than a public meeting where new officers and board members were installed. The evening event, held on June 16 at the Sandler Family Campus, was a celebration of leadership, volunteerism and community.

Outgoing president Miles Leon was gracious in his remarks, thanking committee members, other agency leaders and his family. In turn, former president Alvin Wall and UJFT executive vice-president Harry Graber lauded Leon for leading the community through a challenging time, when the Federation and its affiliate agencies collaborated on a campus consolidation project which will bring changes to their organizations, and to the Sandler Family Campus. Leon was also applauded for his focus on ensuring two successful Annual Campaigns and stressing the importance of continuing financial support from donors to the Federation.

After Leon was released from his commitment as president, longtime community leader Bobby Copeland presented a moving testimonial as he installed Jay Klebanoff, his son-in-law, as the new UJFT president.

“From the time he was married and honeymooned in Israel, to this very moment, Jay is a man who has been prepared to lead, and not only to lead, but to accept the responsibility of leadership. To determine the path, to light the way and to ensure that our community stays complete and that we do our part, as we hope every other community will do, in ensuring the survival of the Jewish world,” said Copeland.

“I’m distinctly honored to be asked to convey to you in this very needy time, when the world’s Jewish people face a true existential threat, where we can’t be cavalier, we can’t relax, we can’t let down our guard, that in this very difficult time, we have asked a man to guide us to dignity. Such a man is Jay Klebanoff. “

Following a vote of approval, Klebanoff walked onstage and pointed to a photo displayed on the screen beside him. Two men were pictured, falling through the air, high above the ground. One of them was Klebanoff.

“In the lead up to tonight someone said to me that taking over as federation president is a lot like jumping out of a plane. ‘You’ve got to have Harry on your back, and after that you’ve got to open your eyes and smile and take a leap.’ So here I am… and I’m going to take that leap,” Klebanoff said.

“My goal for the next two years is to first, listen to the many smart and caring voices in our community, and take the best ideas to ensure that we continue to grow more secure financially.”

In his first act as president, Klebanoff presented awards to Anne Fleder, Amy Levy and Linda Spindel, outgoing UJFT committee chairs whose passion, dedication, leadership and involvement were acknowledged and applauded.

For the 100 people who attended the evening, a Biennial highlight was the presentation of the community’s most prestigious awards. Rachel Shames was presented with the Leonard R. Strelitz Young Leadership Award, Dolores and Alan Bartel were named recipients of the Joseph H. Strelitz Community Service Award, and Dorothy Salomonsky, director of the Personal Affairs Management Program of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, received the 2015 Jewish Communal Professional Award.

 by Laine Mednick Rutherford