A packed house people gathered at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus on Thursday, September 26, in anticipation of a powerful IGNITE! 2020 Campaign kickoff with featured speaker Ambassador Alfred Moses.
During a fast-paced one-hour program, the audience viewed two videos—one about the Campaign and another about the Simon Family JCC’s Arts + Ideas program; heard from four community members representing people and programs supported by the Campaign; from Amy Levy, UJFT president and Betty Ann Levin, UJFT executive vice president/CEO; and from Ambassador Moses.
Before introducing Ambassador Moses, campaign chair Jodi Klebanoff thanked everyone for making the event a priority and spoke about the power of community.
Playing to a full house, a conversation between Art Sandler and Ambassador Moses delighted the audience as the event centerpiece. Moses is the author of Bucharest Diaries: From Darkness to Light.
While in Romania, Moses encountered Jews in need who asked three questions, thus changing the arc of his life:
- ‘Are you American?’
- ‘Are you Jewish?’
- ‘We’re blamed for everything. Will you help us?’
Moses said yes to all three questions and kept his promise by devoting 18 years helping thousands of Jews get out of Romania. Then. again as Ambassador, getting Romania into NATO.
“Ignite: 2020 was more than the kickoff to our community’s 2020 Campaign,” says Amy Levy, UJFT president. “It was about coming together and celebrating the impact our community dollars are having within our community and Jewish communities throughout the world. While we only heard stories from four of our recipients, these stories illustrated the power of the Annual Campaign in impacting lives.”
“Ignite: 2020 is the perfect description for our UJFT Campaign,” says Karen Lombart. “It started with the presence of a visionary, Ambassador Alfred Moses. At 90 years old, he is still a giant, as we learned from his informal conversation with Art Sandler.
“Remembered for his unrelenting determination and skills to obtain visas for trapped Jews in communistic Romania, he helped them make Aliyah to Israel in the 1970s. In the 1990s, as the country’s U.S. Ambassador, he again proved to be insightful in his guidance in taking Romania from “its dark ages” into NATO,” says Lombart.
“Still writing, traveling and speaking, our community experienced a distinguished global figure who changed history while always being authentic to his personal identity.” says Lombart.
Mark Sisisky, JDC vice president, and his wife, Susan, drove from Richmond to hear Ambassador Moses. “Ambassador Moses’ story was specific to him, but points in his story were universal, with some nice shout outs to JDC, he says. You guys have a wonderful JDC community and I look forward to coming again. Because of Laura Miller, and Annie and Art, your community knows more about JDC than most.”
“It was a privilege to hear firsthand Ambassador Moses’ story,” says Bern Glasser. “A veteran attorney, statesman, and passionate advocate of the Romanian Jewish population attempting to flee dark times. The Times of Israel deemed him a modern-day Moses. I was most impressed by his passion for protecting people and the rule of law.”
“I hope that the 2020 Campaign will kindle a desire in every member of our Jewish community to PARTICIPATE…and by that, I mean not only make a gift to the Campaign, but also to get involved within our Jewish community, whether through their synagogue, one of our many Jewish day schools, the Simon Jewish Community Center, BBYO, or another opportunity. Together, we will strengthen our community—Jewish Tidewater,” says Levy.