Photos, above left: Jessica and Judy Zachs, our 2016 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award winner. Above right: Greater Hartford Lions of Judah and friends in Washington, D.C.
Friends, the past couple of weeks have been very exciting ones for the Federation. We completed our 2016 Annual Campaign, raising $4,329,475 - more than $19,000 over goal! - and we kicked off the 2017 Annual Campaign with an inspiring program at Solomon Schechter Day School, featuring student speakers from all three of our local Day Schools. One of the most vibrant parts of our Annual Campaign is the Women's Philanthropy Division - particularly our Lions of Judah, each of whom contribute $5,000 or more annually. Our Lions are off to a roaring start this fall, as Marta Goldman, Associate Vice President for Development & Women's Philanthropy, shares below. Shabbat Shalom. - Howard
Since joining the Federation in June, one of the most satisfying aspects of my work has been getting to know the amazing women of our Jewish community. They are bright, dynamic, and deeply committed to creating a better life for Jews here in Greater Hartford and around the world.
Among the thousands of women who contribute to our Federation, there are 130 Lions of Judah who demonstrate leadership each year through their generous financial support and volunteer commitments. Greater Hartford Lions provide funding for our local PJ Library program, which sends free Jewish children's books to local families every month. They also helped to organize Tara's Closet, a new initiative of Jewish Family Services that offers beautiful, free clothing in a "boutique" setting to help clothe community members in need.
Last Thursday, at our Lion of Judah Annual Celebration Dinner, we honored one very special Lion - Judy Zachs - who received the 2016 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award from Jewish Federations of North America. This national award recognizes women who make outstanding philanthropic contributions to their local community. A seasoned social work clinician and women's group leader, Judy has been a Lion since 1995 and has volunteered with Federation Women's Philanthropy program in many capacities over the years. She has also endowed her annual Lion of Judah gift so it will live on in perpetuity. We are deeply blessed by Judy's warmth and her generous spirit - she is an inspiration to us all!
This past weekend, I was fortunate to accompany thirteen Lions of Judah from our own community to the 2016 International Lion of Judah Conference in Washington, D.C. This biennial event celebrated the commitment and ongoing support provided by Lions of Judah around the world, and honored Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award recipients from local communities, including Judy Zachs.
The conference featured internationally renowned speakers such as Madeleine Albright and Tom Ridge, as well as speakers who received services from JFNA partner agencies or who were inspired to develop a JFNA-funded program through their own life experiences. One particularly moving speaker, Lt. Commander Alexa Forsyth Jenkins, spoke beautifully about how her Jewish values helped her become the first Jewish female commander of a U.S. Naval warship, and how those values continue to shape her leadership style. It's no small coincidence that this vibrant woman is the cousin of our own Women's Philanthropy Chair, Carolyn Gitlin!
Being in the midst of so many passionate women was a deeply moving experience, punctuated by a few tears and plenty of laughter and smiles, which helped deepen the bond shared by our Lions of Judah. At the end of those two days of celebration, sharing and learning, the 1,300 Lions of Judah who attended the conference contributed a combined total of more than $31.5 million dollars in support of Federation programs that will help the Jewish community, from Hartford to Israel and around the world.
Associate Vice President, Development & Women's Philanthropy