FOX POINT — Marking a second straight year of increased fundraising, they gathered in good spirits to laugh, hear stories and celebrate.
The Milwaukee Jewish Federation held its 2016 annual meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Congregation Sinai, with about 200 donors, local clergy and other stakeholders in attendance.
“We are here to ensure a thriving Jewish community for our children and grandchildren and beyond,” said Hannah Rosenthal, president and CEO of the Federation.
A video noted a history of several generations of community assistance, culminating in $5.95 million donated to the annual campaign this year. “This is an increase over last year’s achievement and the second increase year in a row,” said Joan Lubar, annual campaign chair. Speaking to the donors and volunteers in the room, she said, “we are extraordinarily grateful to you.”
The dollars are spread to various causes. “In 2016 we are in Ukraine, Nepal and right here in Milwaukee,” the video boasted. Funding is put towards strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish education, social services and other needs.
The video also highlighted the work of the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, with legacy commitments aimed at ensuring a strong Jewish future. Lubar highlighted the $16 million in future gifts garnered through the Foundation’s Create a Jewish Legacy program, calling it an “amazing accomplishment” and thanking key volunteers.
“What I really have so much appreciated is the values that this community has,” said Daniel Bader, outgoing board chair. He sees tremendous passion among volunteers, which is how so much is achieved in the community, he said.
Helping to shape our Jewish future “feels awesome,” Lubar said, thanking the room for “all you’ve done.”
Incoming Board Chair Andrea Schneider had the audience laughing with some old, “awkward” family photos projected onto a screen, then easing into some discussion of her powerful family connections with Judaism. “I look forward to serving you all in my new role,” she said.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Brenner, former publisher for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, gave the keynote address. She talked of the 2015 Federation mission trip to Poland.
“Nothing prepares you for seeing the barracks where prisoners lived and died,” Brenner said. “We went to Krakow so we could never forget.”
One touching part of the trip was all of the family stories participants shared with one another. “I think we all realized that we were the conclusions of those stories,” Brenner said, adding that those on the trip realized this gave them a responsibility to never stay silent.
“We went because it was responsibility.”