UJFT Women’s Campaign moves from Strength to Strength

by | May 17, 2013 | Other News

Betsy Karotkin, Ina Levy, Laura Gross, Jodi Klebanoff, JDC professional Sandy Katz, Karen Lombart, Karen Jaffe, Annie Sandler, JDC professional Avital Sandler-Loeff, Laura Miller, and JDC volunteer Shakked Auerbach, and Bonnie Brand.

Betsy Karotkin, Ina Levy, Laura Gross, Jodi Klebanoff, JDC professional Sandy Katz, Karen Lombart, Karen Jaffe, Annie Sandler, JDC professional Avital Sandler-Loeff, Laura Miller, and JDC volunteer Shakked Auerbach, and Bonnie Brand.

On Thursday, May 9, the Women’s Cabinet of the UJFT held its biennial Spring Installation Luncheon to thank and recognize the members of the Women’s Cabinet whose terms of service were complete and to welcome new cabinet members.

In Honorary Cabinet member Ann Copeland’s beautiful home, more than 60 women participated in the passing of the torch from Laura Gross (Women’s Cabinet chair from 2011 to 2013) to Jodi Klebanoff, who will serve as chair of the Women’s Cabinet and the Women’s Campaign for the 2014 and 2015 campaign years.

2013 General Campaign Chair Amy Levy, serving in her role as Women’s Cabinet Nominating Committee chair, thanked those rotating off cabinet for their years of service; recognized those women who are returning to serve another three-year term; and welcomed new cabinet members: Deborah Casey, Mona Flax, Kim Gross, Lynn Schoenbaum.

Levy then presented the new executive committee, whose members include the chair, vice chair, and heads of all cabinet sub-committees:
Jodi Kleabanoff, chair
Stephanie Calliott, vice-chair
Laura Gross, immediate past chair and nominating committee chair
Amy Levy, leadership chair
Barbara Dudley, education chair
Alicia London Friedman, community connections chair
Janet Mercadante, outreach chair At-Large members: Kim Simon Fink,
Charlene Cohen, and Amy Lefcoe

In stepping down from her chairmanship, Laura Gross thanked her executive committee and the entire Women’s Cabinet for their support and hard work during two very challenging campaign years. Under Gross’s leadership the Women’s Campaign grew from approximately $1.25 million to a projected $1.3 million. In addition, she cited a number of new milestone women’s gifts over the last two years.

Gross also mentioned how pleased she was to be able to co-chair the Federation’s Women’s Mission to Cuba this past fall. She talked about the uniqueness of women’s missions and expressed her hope that the Federation would continue to offer these kinds of missions for the community.

Gross was particularly pleased with the efforts of the Women’s Division these past two years to reach out to the women in the Jewish community—from all synagogues, all neighborhoods, all backgrounds, and with a wide array of interests. In recalling the Women’s Outreach events at Ohef Sholom and Beth El featuring violinist Pavel Ilyashov; the Girls’ Afternoons at the Movies; the Jewlicious Passover Cooking Demonstration; the Women’s Outreach Community Seder; and the various Jewish Women’s Salon events. Gross announced that together with Charlene Cohen, she would begin spearheading a committee to engage in meaningful follow-up with the women who’ve participated in these outreach events, as well as those who will attend in the future.

“So you see,” she said, “I’m going away, but not that far away.”

In her first remarks as new chair, Jodi Klebanoff thanked Gross for her service, leadership, and inspiration and presented her with a small gift of appreciation from the Cabinet for her years of service. In articulating her vision for the coming two years, Klebanoff included her goal to continue growing the number and size of women’s campaign gifts and increasing the number of endowed gifts within the women’s campaign.

Klebanoff recalled her own memories of the women’s mission to Cuba (which she co-chaired with Laura Gross) and her impression of the strong women who run the Jewish community of Havana. She talked in particular about Adele Dworin, the president of the Jewish community of Havana, emphasizing what a tremendous impression she made on all of the women of the mission, with her strength, her humor, and her deep desire to preserve the community. “Without you… without your help,” Dworin had told the mission group, “the Jewish community of Cuba would disappear.” Klebanoff assured the group at the luncheon, that far from disappearing, the Jewish community of Havana was strong, united, and dedicated to preservation.

Klebanoff closed her remarks with thanks to several of the women in the room for being her mentors over the years, including her mother, Ann Copeland. And she quoted her father, Bobby Copeland, saying: “My dad always says there are friends…and there are ‘friends who show up,’ so thank you all for showing up today and for showing up so often, to do the work of the Jewish community.”

Cabinet member Susan Hirschbiel introduced the guest speakers, who came to the community courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to talk about two of the wonderful programs that JDC runs in Israel, partially funded by Tidewater campaign dollars: The JDC AMEN Youth Volunteer program and Israel Unlimited—a partnership between JDC and the Israeli government designed to assist and promote opportunities for adults with disabilities.

Shakked Auerbach is a wonderful ambassador for JDC’s AMEN program. A “graduate” of the program, Orbach shared stories with the group of her wonderful experiences as a teen volunteer. She was drawn to working with children and adults with disabilities. At first, she was apprehensive and unsure how to interact with this population, but she quickly began to realize how rewarding the experience would be. Orbach also talked about the wonderful opportunities that exist for young people with creativity and initiative in Israel, and how JDC is willing to offer a framework to support the efforts of kids who want to create movements in Israel. With the help of JDC, Orbach was instrumental in developing a music club in Modi’in which still brings talented young musicians together today.

Avital Sandler- Loeff is the director of Israel Unlimited, JDC-Israel’s division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation. Sandler-Loeff talked about the JDC’s Centers for Independent Living throughout Israel, including one that Tidewater funds in Tel Aviv. These are Centers run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, and they create warm and welcoming communities for people often felt like outsiders, without communities of their own. Stating with absolute conviction that “people with disabilities first and foremost have abilities.” Sandler-Loeff described plans for new services and programs that would further improve and enrich the lives of those with disabilities. She thanked the women in the room for their role in giving and asking others to give, so that these kind of programs can have the life-changing impact that they are having for adults with disabilities in Israel. And she encouraged them to keep up the work that they are doing and to learn as much as they can about the programs of the JDC, so that they will understand why their supportive dollars are so important.

The 2013 Women’s Campaign will wind down over the next few weeks. For those who have not yet made a gift, but would like to be a part of the Women’s Campaign, call Amy Zelenka, Women’s Campaign director, at 965-6139 or email azelenka@ujft. org. Gifts of support can also be made on-line using the Federation’s secure server at www. jewishva.org/women.

by Amy Zelenka,
UJFT Women’s Campaign director