Jewish community meets local and global needs

by | May 24, 2019 | Featured

Community Campaign tops $4.8-million and looks to finish strong!

The 2019 Annual Campaign is winding down and what a year it’s been.

Starting in June 2018, 38 community members participated in the Journey Home Mission to Israel. Co-chaired by John Strelitz, UJFT president, the mission, which honored the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern-day state of Israel, was an unforgettable trip. Participants were deeply moved by their experiences and came home with a renewed sense of gratitude and commitment for the land and people of Israel. They ignited what became a record-setting Campaign.

Community leadership and Betty Ann Levin, UJFT’s new CEO, presented a vision for what the 2019 Campaign might look like. They wanted to accelerate the Campaign calendar, starting and completing earlier than in prior years’ Campaigns, in order to be able to focus on community planning and strategic issues for the Jewish community’s future. Professional staff and lay leaders established a Campaign timeline with strategies and opportunities to help achieve that goal.

As a result, the Annual Campaign Kick-off became a celebration of building and sustaining Jewish communities both locally and globally. “With a new level of energy and excitement in the air, community members attending the kick-off responded by making commitments to the Campaign and, thus, our community,” says Levin.

Super Sunday, another community event, which traditionally had been held in late-January, to mark the closing of the Campaign, was moved to October. This enabled volunteer callers to reach additional donor prospects, once again building further upon an already accelerated pace.

The Men’s and Women’s Major Gifts events were also held earlier in the Campaign and contributed to a fast-rising Campaign total. With direct mail appeals, phone-a-thons, and, of course, one-on-one personal solicitations with donors, the 2019 Campaign by December 31, 2018, had matched the 2018 Campaign total of June 30 of 2018!

“The many successes of the 2019 campaign can be traced directly back to the volunteer Campaign ambassadors who worked tirelessly – asking and encouraging their friends, neighbors, and fellow-community members to support the amazing work that our Federation does in raising funds to meet Jewish needs at home and around the world,” notes Strelitz.

As this issue goes to press, the 2019 Campaign total stands at $4,817,150. This is an increase of more than $183,000 from last year’s Campaign. An incredibly impressive total by any measure. For those who have not yet had the opportunity to give—there is still time.

With the potential to add another $90,000 from past donors to the current Campaign, Laura Gross, Campaign chair says, “Just imagine what the community could do with an additional $90,000 to give away to the organizations that meet Jewish needs in so many ways. If ever there was a year to capitalize on the excitement of a successful annual Campaign, this is it!”

“If you have never made a gift to the Annual Community Campaign, this is the time!” says Levin. “Never has there been a more important time to address security needs in our community, provide Jewish education to children, youth and adults of all ages, engage more Jewish teens in BBYO, educate and engage our community in regard to combating anti-Israel rhetoric, anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel—and so much more. Every community member can play a role in this by stepping forward and making a gift to our Annual Community Campaign.”

“Our vision, goals and successes will be shared with the community during the Federation’s Biennial Meeting on Thursday, June 13 at 6 pm at the Sandler Family Campus,” says Strelitz. The event is open to all members of the Jewish community, and will celebrate the community, the Campaign, and all those whose hard work and dedication helped make it such a success.

Campaign staff has begun compiling names for the 2019 Honor Roll of Donors—to thank and recognize them for their generosity and commitment. Those who have not yet made a 2019 Annual Campaign gift, and would like to be included in the Honor Roll, can go online to UJFT’s secure website at; call the Federation offices at 757-965-6115; or send a check made out to the UJFT to: UJFT Annual Campaign 2019, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.

Amy Zelenka

For information on how to become an Annual Campaign ambassador for the 2020 Campaign, and help continue to build Jewish community, please contact the Federation at 757-965-6115.