FOX POINT — “As my ancestors planted for me, so do I plant for my children.”
This notion, borrowed from the Talmud, was the theme of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Annual Meeting on Aug. 15. Held at Congregation Sinai of Fox Point, the meeting celebrated accomplishments and looked to the future.
Andrea Schneider spoke to the nearly 200 people present, having completed a two-year stint as Federation board chair. “I am so grateful to have had such a wonderful opportunity to serve this community,” said Schneider, who is a professor with Marquette University Law School.
“I have spent a lot of my professional life thinking about justice, fairness and how people should treat each other,” she said. “And at Federation, I believe that we understand this as well. Our mission statement talks about the importance of convening the community, of hearing others’ opinions, and of bringing it all together to protect our communal future.”
Jody Hirsh, director of Judaic education at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, delivered the invocation, asking attendees to join him in saying the Shehechiyanu.
Event co-chairs Carrie and daughter Taylor Steinberger noted many of the agencies and good causes supported by Federation and its Annual Campaign.
“I’m very grateful to my mom and other volunteers who support these organizations,” Taylor said. Carrie added, “From my family to yours we sincerely appreciate everything you have done … to make Milwaukee a great place to be Jewish.”
Hannah Rosenthal, CEO and president of Milwaukee Jewish Federation until her planned retirement later this year, introduced a year-in-review video. “I’ll be moving to Madison to be a full-time grandma,” she noted before the video.
Rosenthal expressed pride in Federation’s multi-year designation as a “Top Workplace” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the nonprofit’s continuing top rating — four stars — with Charity Navigator.
The video, projected in the Congregation Sinai sanctuary before the full audience, had a narrator saying, “You could say this year was pretty epic … We tried to make this world more just and it was all hands on deck.”
The video touted Holocaust education, advocacy, education and other causes supported by Federation.
Donations have increased
Annual Campaign Chair Lauri Roth spoke at the podium. “Jews do incredible things in the world,” she said.
Donations have increased for the Annual Campaign of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, reaching $6.35 million. The $6.35 million for 2018 beats the $6.17 million raised for the Annual Campaign in 2017.
The Annual Campaign has been rising in recent years and compared with just four years ago, the 2018 amount represents an increase of more than $600,000.
The Federation reports that 872 donors increased their gifts this year over last year. That’s more than 50 percent of the Federation’s total donors making an increase or a first time gift in 2018.
“We’re so proud that we were able to increase funding to each of our agencies this year by four percent,” Roth said. “Generous donors like you are choosing to invest charitable dollars in the Federation.”
Roth thanked Judy Coran, outgoing Women’s Campaign chair, and other volunteers for all their work.
Roth said the Create a Jewish Legacy program is now estimating $19 million in future gifts, and the assets of the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation have grown to more than $190 million. “We are closing in on the $200 million mark which is so exciting,” she said.
Anna Goldstein, Teen Philanthropy coordinator, and Lauren Berger, Teen Philanthropy board member, took to the podium to discuss the one-year-old teen program.
“The impact of this program on the teens who participated in the program was huge,” Berger said. “We learned that Jewish giving is an imperative and not just a good thing to do.”
In keeping with the theme of the event, Rosenthal handed plants as gifts to Teen Philanthropy participants.
Board members elected
David Werner, of the Federation board Governance/Nominating Committee, put forward names for board membership, which were approved on a unanimous voice vote. The Annual Meeting thus approved first-time terms for Pnina Goldfarb, Kurt Janavitz, Dana Margolis, Todd Miller, Cheryl Moser, Fran Richman and Carrie Steinberger. Judy Coran was approved for a second term. Also, those in attendance voted to approve a third two-year term for Brent Arnold, Nancy Kennedy Barnett, Allan Carneol, David M. Cohn, Barbara Glazer, Sara Hermanoff, Lisa Hiller, Moshe Katz, Joan Lubar, Greg Marcus, Susan Angel Miller, Mitch Moser, Lauri Roth, Andrea Schneider, Yoni Schlussel, Susan Lubar Solvang and David Werner.
Board Member Mark Brickman recognized Andrea Schneider, stepping down at the end of her two year term as board chair. He referred to her as “a very special leader” with “a sincere commitment to our Federation mission.”
A Federation board nominating committee has chosen Katz to serve a two-year term as board chairman, to begin Sept. 5.
Katz said today’s Jewish leaders share values with their Milwaukee forefathers, but that how those values are applied today can look different.
“They dreamt of what could be and then they simply got it done,” Katz continued, adding that today’s Jewish community has a responsibility. “We need to be planting the seeds for those who will come after us.”
* * *
‘As my ancestors planted for me …’
Talmud Ta’anit 23a
While walking along a road, a sage saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years,” replied the man. The sage then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise I am planting for my children.”
Source: Reconstructing Judaism via RitualWell.org.