By Daniel Horowitz--Approximately 300 caring, committed and visionary Jewish women of all ages recently celebrated the work of United Jewish Appeal’s Women’s Philanthropy at the annual Lion of Judah Luncheon.
Women’s Philanthropy, chaired by Sarena Koschitzky, continues to play a pivotal role in the success of UJA’s annual campaign and has already raised close to $7 million.
The vice chair of Women’s Philanthropy is Felicia Posluns.
“We are extremely grateful to the entire Women’s Philanthropy team for their stellar achievements,” said Sherry Firestone, chair, along with Jeff Rosenthal, of UJA’s 2011 Campaign. “The proof is in the numbers. Consistently, year in and year out, women’s philanthropy has outpaced every other division in our annual campaign and is the benchmark by which all the other divisions are measured.”
This year, a special focus of the Annual UJA Campaign, which has raised approximately $38 million to date from over 14,000 donors, is to leap forward in programs and initiatives designed to instill a strong Jewish identity in our next generation, while connecting them to Israel. The campaign comes at a time of a global movement attempting to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state.
“Our campaign focus is built on creating a future partnership and future relationship with our youth,” Koschitzky told the audience. “Our youth will lead us in the not so distant future, but we must give them the proper tools to do so. The tools to advocate, the tools to create Jewish affiliations and social networks. The tools to create and choose strong Jewish identities and the tools for strong leadership development. We must provide Jewish learning in many different shapes and forms and teach our youth the secrets of a strong Jewish community.”
“For all of us here today, tzedakah, the righteous act of giving to others, is a way of life,” said Elizabeth Wolfe, senior vice chair of the UJA Board. “That’s what Jewish tradition teaches. But tzedakah is much more than that. Our great sages viewed tzedakah as equal to all other worthy deeds combined. Today, we celebrate each of you, and I want to thank you for leading the way. You are our philanthropic leadership. You model, in action and deed, the Jewish value of tzedakah. I am honoured to be among you today as we celebrate the power of what happens when women work together towards a common goal to make the world a better place.”
This year’s event, held at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel, was chaired by Leanne Matlow and Micki Mizrahi as well as Honourary Luncehon Chairs Grace Goodman, Bonnie Goodman-Bloom, Sara Gorman, Beverley Gorman Herzig, Debbie Goodman-Sadja, Michele Rotman, Anne Handelman and Carol Handelman.
The event featured a riveting, emotional address by Marina Nemat, a native of Tehran, Iran, who, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, was arrested at the age of sixteen, and spent more than two years in a political prison where she was tortured and narrowly escaped death. She came to Canada in 1991 and has called it home ever since.