Women’s Cabinet Spring Luncheon welcomes and inspires

by | May 25, 2012 | Featured

Sitting in the sunlit great room of Cindy Kramer’s Virginia Beach home, members and guests at the Women’s Cabinet Installation Luncheon were served a healthy meal peppered with introductions, information and conversation.

The annual meeting, held this year on May 10, gave new members of the Women’s Cabinet of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater a chance to meet their peers in an informal environment.

“I joined the Cabinet to meet new women, to begin new relationships and to build new friendships,” says BarbaraDudley, who was one of four women installed at the event. “I knew some of the faces, but not all. Everyone made me feel comfortable at the short meet and greet, the setting was lovely and I liked seeing that there were members across the age span.”

The luncheon opened with a welcome from Women’s Cabinet Co-Chair Jodi Klebanoff. Cabinet member Janet Mercadante followed with a brief D’var Torah, an interpretation of the week’s Torah portion, which told of the high priest’s responsibility and commitment to the community, above and beyond his own personal needs.

“We all have challenges in our lives, and yet if we retreated from our roles as leaders with every challenge that confronts us, we would be woefully short of leaders,” Mercadante said. “We must ask ourselves, what legacy are we imparting to future generations?

“Will we be remembered for the wringing of our hands and hopelessness, or for the faith and hope we inspired? It’s all in our hands; the choice is ours to make. By serving on Women’s Cabinet, I believe we have all made that choice,” Mercadante concluded.

Amy Levy, immediate past chair of Women’s Cabinet and the chair of its nominating committee, welcomed the newly installed members: Dudley, Stacie Hofheimer Moss, Carin Simon and Marcy Mostofsky. Levy also thanked out-going Cabinet members Ellen Rosenblum, Linda Belkov and Judi Snyder for their years of service.

Special guests, Taly Shaul and Zoya Shvartzman, traveled from Hungary to attend the event. Cabinet member Karen Jaffe, an executive board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), introduced the women. She lauded their expertise and familiarity with the living conditions of Jews in Europe, most specifically in Hungary where Jaffe’s family established the JDC-run Jaffe Jewish Family Service.

“At the Jaffe Jewish Family Service, we have a comprehensive, holistic program that provides a service to children and families in an organized way,” said Shaul, JDC’s deputy director in Hungary and the general director of the Hungarian Jewish Social Support Foundation. “Our goal is to ensure that children don’t suffer and to promote Jewish identity. We open the doors for hope and a better future.”

Since opening in 2007, the Jaffe JFS has reached 540 families and 900 children out of 2,000 children recognized as disadvantaged. Shaul stressed the statistics are considered a great achievement in a country where Jews are still reluctant to claim their heritage, anti-Semitism is on the rise and the perception in the country is that all Jews are wealthy.

Shvartzman thanked the members of the Women’s Cabinet for supporting the Jaffe JFS and the JDC through their giving to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. She thanked them as well for continuing to learn about the existing and emerging needs in the Jewish world, for their leadership, and for the help they have provided to countless numbers of people.

“You should know,” stressed Shvartzman, JDC’s director of resource development in Europe, “that what you do is not just impacting lives. It is transforming people’s lives around the world.

“I know, because I was one of those people,” Shvartzman said. The Israeli citizen, originally from Moldova, first learned of her Jewish heritage when she was eight, through a JDC-sponsored program.

Shaul and Shvartzman’s personal and professional stories made an impression on Barbara Dudley.

“It is nice putting names and faces together with the affect the dollars raised in this community can have on people’s lives,” says Dudley. “Attending this event and finding out about all of the wonderful upcoming programming makes me look forward to getting more involved.”

The Women’s Cabinet is a committee of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, whose role is to raise funds and build Jewish community. Cabinet members serve as campaign ambassadors and role models, promoting education, financial resource development and outreach to all women in the Jewish community. The cabinet is comprised of women from diverse backgrounds and synagogue affiliations, ages 40 and up. The requirements for serving are: a demonstrated leadership in the Jewish community; a minimum individual campaign gift of $365 per year; and a willingness to solicit others for donations to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. The members of Women’s Cabinet share a love for Jewish community and a spirit of activism to help improve Jewish lives at home and around the world.

For more information on Women’s Cabinet, Women’s Outreach Programs, or how to support the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, call Amy Zelenka, Women’s Campaign director, at 965-6139 or email AZelenka@ujft.org.

by Laine M. Rutherford