Jewish Federations of North America President Jerry Silverman to kick off Annual Campaign

by | Aug 28, 2015 | Featured

Thursday, Sept. 17, 6:45 pm

He’s casual, he’s passionate, he’s earnest and he heads up a movement that ranks collectively among the top 10 charities in the world.

“He,” is Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America. Silverman will be the featured speaker at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2016 Annual Campaign Kickoff at the Sandler Family Campus.

The Kickoff is free and open to the community. The event begins with cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres, and continues with a presentation that is designed to inform, inspire and motivate the Tidewater Jewish community for a year of fundraising, dialogue, programming and volunteer opportunities.

“Coming to the Kickoff is one of the best ways to learn about the impact you have when you give to the Federation, and lets you get involved right away,” says Karen Jaffe, Annual Campaign chair.

“This year, hearing directly from Jerry about the challenges facing communities just like ours—and the situations Jews are dealing with overseas and in Israel—and what we can do to make a difference, will be both eye-opening and enlightening,” she says.

“Jerry is a top Jewish communal professional, an in-demand speaker, and we’re very fortunate to have him travel here to speak with us.”

As JFNA’s highest level executive, Silverman represents 151 Federations, including UJFT, and 300 Network communities. Through the Federation’s communal model of giving and fundraising, more than $900 million comes in from Annual and emergency campaigns and, more than $2 billion is distributed through its foundations and endowments.

The money raised throughout North American on behalf of Jewish community is extraordinary, Silverman says, but there’s something that he finds even more inspirational—the work he sees being done around the world because there is a Federation system.

“To me, it’s all about what we impact. And who we impact. And how we impact,” Silverman said at a JFNA conference held last March in Chicago. “That’s what connects us, and builds community, and creates the meaning behind what we do.”

Jay Klebanoff, UJFT’s newly installed president, feels that with its devoted Jewish leaders and thousands- strong caring community members, the UJFT will continue to be the unifying force that meets the challenges of today, and secures the future for generations of Jews to come.

“The concept of tikkun olam and the importance of tzedekah are bred into us. They are in our DNA and are in our hearts,” Klebanoff said earlier this summer.

“When we hear about Jews struggling in our community and abroad, when we hear about Israel’s struggle to survive and thrive in a perilous part of the world, when we hear about the cost financially and emotionally of defending our Jewish homeland, we feel it in our hearts. We know we have to respond. And we do.”

Klebanoff and Jaffe know the 2016 Annual Campaign goals seem lofty: raise more than $4.7 million, increase donor and community involvement, and cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Challenging, yes, but definitely achievable, they feel.

“It’s so important for people to understand when they make a gift to the UJFT Annual Campaign—they’re providing critical funds for our local agencies that can then take care of our senior citizens, our disabled Jewish adults, and provide financial assistance so our children can to go to camp and get a great Jewish educational experience,” says Jaffe.

“Until the messiah arrives, we’ll always need an Annual Campaign,” she says.

“The needs and challenges of the Jewish community in Hampton Roads, on college campuses and in big and small cities in North America are great. In the worldwide arena, in Tel Aviv and Kiryat Yam and Budapest and Argentina and Paris—problems don’t just go away. If we don’t help, who will?”

“Come to Kickoff,” Jaffe says, “for a fresh start to the Jewish New Year. Help us alleviate hunger and hardship and open doors to opportunity. Become part of an organizations where, together, we are creating a Jewish future.”

—For more information, or to RSVP for Campaign Kickoff, email, or call 757-965-6115.

by Laine M. Rutherford