The Women’s Cabinet of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater recently hosted its annual spring lunch for cabinet members and others at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach. Featured at the event was Jewish American Philanthropist Jane Weitzman (wife of Stuart Weitzman of foot ware fame). Weitzman serves on the boards and executive committees of several prominent national Jewish organizations including the Jewish Book Council and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). She also co-manages for her family’s philanthropic foundation, which funds many worthy causes each year—Jewish and non-Jewish.
Weitzman’s message to the women at the lunch (accompanied by slides on a large screen) was that each person can make a positive change in the world. It’s not necessary to be major givers or intrepid globe trotters. Small gifts can matter as much as large. Weitzman spoke about her experiences visiting Jewish communities around the world through her work on the JDC board. She showed photos of some of the remotest villages in Russia and Ukraine; surprising Jewish communities in India; and even struggling communities in Israel. Each of the locations she described was assisted and improved through the work of the JDC, which is funded through Federation campaign across North America (including Tidewater).
Weitzman’s message resonated with a crowd of already-involved women— those who work on behalf of the UJFT to support the campaign and build a strong Jewish community at home and abroad. Her message also reminded those in attendance “WHY we do WHAT we do” and inspired them to continue the oftentimes “uncomfortable” work of asking others to support the campaign as well.
The luncheon opened with a welcome by Janet Mercadante, Women’s Cabinet chair, who gave a quick campaign overview— highlighting the successes of the women’s division this year. Mercadante recognized the cabinet members whose terms of service were coming to a close and welcomed the newest member to join. Members stepping off Women’s Cabinet this year are: Cheryl Dronzek, Lynn Sher Cohen, and Betty Ann Levin (who will take over as UJFT executive vice president on July 1, as Harry Graber retires). New member Judy Rosenblatt was welcomed to Cabinet. Mona Flax, Cabinet vice chair, closed the event by echoing earlier remarks from Mercadante who said she: “Felt like Oprah,” because she was giving each woman at the luncheon a copy of Weitzman’s beautiful book, Art & Sole: A Spectacular Selection of More Than 150 Fantasy Art Shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection.
– Amy Zelenka