-By Jodie Shupac for The Canadian Jewish News
In nearly every sense, Mayim Bialik is an atypical Hollywood star.
It would be difficult to come away with a different impression of the accomplished actress, writer, scholar and observant Jew after listening to her keynote speech at the Feb. 2 UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s annual campaign 2015 closing event.
Held at downtown event space The Carlu and attended by 800 campaign donors, the evening featured speeches and a dessert reception, all to celebrate the $53.1 million – the product of about 16,000 gifts – raised so far to support UJA projects in the 2015 fiscal year (donations are expected to roll in until the fiscal year begins in July).
Funds from the campaign, which launched in September, will go toward Jewish social service delivery in the GTA, as well as community building, education, strengthening bonds with UJA’s partner agencies in Israel and advocacy through the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The $53.1 million outpaces by several hundred thousand dollars the sum raised by this time last year for Campaign 2014, and it doesn’t include the $5.6 million collected for last summer’s Israel emergency relief fund, federation officials said.
Bialik, 39, was an appropriate guest, calling herself a steadfast Zionist and a “personal product of [UJA] federation” growing up in California.
Best known for her roles as the young Bette Midler in the film Beaches, the title character on television sitcom Blossom and, currently, as Amy Farrah Fowler on the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Bialik’s early influences included attending Jewish camp on a federation subsidy.
“Because of federation, I was able to attend Jewish camp for five weeks a year, to meet other Jews and learn,” she told the audience. “It’s because of people like you who gave to people like me, whose family didn’t have money for camp.”
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