FOX POINT — The theme was “We are family” and the mood was celebratory at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Annual Meeting on Thursday, Aug. 10, with Federation having again beat the prior year’s annual campaign, along with other achievements.
About 200 people attended the meeting at Congregation Sinai, with upbeat speakers and videos highlighting the work of Federation and the commitment of local supporters.
Milwaukee Jewish Federation beat its 2017 Annual Campaign goal and achieved a campaign revenue increase for the third year in a row. For the 2017 Annual Campaign, the Federation had a “stretch goal” of $6.1 million. The amount raised, as calculations were finalized this summer, was $120,000 higher – about $6.22 million. The Women’s Campaign, chaired by Judy Coran, raised about one-third of that amount.
The “We are family” theme was a tip of the hat to the wider Jewish family, but also to the grandfather-grandson team of Henry “Pat” Kerns and Daniel Kerns, who were event co-chairs. Both spoke and indicated they were honored to serve in the roles. The elder Kerns indicated a special pride, telling the assembled Federation supporters that he “can remember entering the hospital room and getting to hold Daniel.”
A video highlighted the progressive annual campaign increases; support for parents to send children to Jewish day schools and camps; the shin shin program that brings young visiting Israelis to Milwaukee; efforts to explore both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; learning about Holocaust deniers and survivors and a mission to stand beside unmarked graves in Europe, among other accomplishments.
The video also touted that during its first three years, the Create a Jewish Legacy program of the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation raised about $18 million in future gifts.
“None of it could have happened without three legs of the stool,” said an enthusiastic Hannah Rosenthal, CEO and president of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. With that, she thanked donors, volunteers and staff.
“I am thrilled and honored to have served as the campaign chair for the past two years in this campaign,” said Joan Lubar, the 2017 Annual Campaign Chair for Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “What this steady increase in our campaign says to me is that our community, our donors, our volunteers and our staff really understand what our dollars raised can do to support and improve our Jewish life here in Milwaukee and overseas.”
Federation board Chairwoman Andrea Schneider gave gifts of thanks to volunteers, including a laser cut bowl with birds and pomegranates by the Israeli artist Yair Emanuel for Lubar.
“You have put our community in such a wonderful position,” Schneider said.
Outreach and Teen Philanthropy Coordinator Anna Goldstein talked about a new teen philanthropy initiative, one that will have teens organizing and acting as a real foundation.
Linda Bader reported on the work of the Federation’s Education Task Force, which took a fresh look at the local Jewish community’s approach to education. Sharyl Paley spoke on 50 years of the shlichut program, the longest running program of its kind in the United States (see cover story).
Rabbi David Cohen of Congregation Sinai delivered the invocation, referencing Federation’s enduring support for the local Jewish community. In official business, the meeting approved new board members Esther Ancel, Ann Jacobs and Michael Rosenberg. Eileen Graves and Sharyl Paley were approved for second two-year terms.
Schneider expressed gratitude for Michael Pollack, who completed his term on the Federation board and as chair of the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council. There was recognition, also, for Stephen L. Chernof and Susan Lubar Solvang, both of them outgoing committee chairs.
Though the night was permeated with cheers and enthusiasm, some of the biggest cheers and a standing ovation was delivered for retired Maintenance Supervisor Bob Spangenberg, who retired after 35 years of service to the Federation.
He treated the Federation’s buildings like they were his own, Rosenthal said, giving him the last of the ubiquitous rainbow-striped mezuzahs not yet installed at any local Jewish institutions.