By Rachel Gross
The theme for the 99th annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) was aptly named “Impact begins with ‘I.’” The gathering highlighted the Federation’s “impact” over the past year through the efforts of dedicated individuals.
The event, co-chaired by Barbi and Scott Cohen, took place at the Aaron Family JCC last week. Cantor Jacob Cohen of Congregation Nishmat Am led the National Anthem, and Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum of Congregation Ohr Ha Torah gave the d’var Torah.
The program honored those who demonstrated excellence in their support for the 2010 Annual Campaign and included the election of new officers and board members.
“The theme tonight is Impact Begins with ‘I’,” Barbi said. “Not only does it set the tone for our meeting, it also conveys how we as individuals and as Jews are responsible not only for each other, but also for making a difference in our world and our community.”
Past Federation Chairman Carol Aaron spoke about plans for the upcoming year, such as the 100th anniversary celebration in February; the making of a documentary; a traveling historical exhibit that explains how the Federation came to be; educational guides for religious and day schools that help students understand how the Federation meets needs of the Jewish community in Dallas and overseas; and community-wide events that will take place throughout the year.
She said it is significant for the next generation to become future leaders and get involved with the Federation.
“Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation in Dallas,” she said. “The theme ‘IMAGINE 1911 ~ 2011 ~ 2111’ was chosen as it ties back to the founders of the Jewish Federation in Dallas who had the vision to imagine what could be in this western frontier when only a handful of Jews lived here. They were able to imagine a vibrant Jewish community that could grow together through prayer, education and community service. It is the same imagination that will move us forward to the next 100 years.”
Chairman David Veeder, beginning his second term, said although challenges arose and budgets, staff and allocations were reduced, the Federation became more efficient.
It raised more than $10,000,000 during the annual campaign, a 5 percent increase from last year.
Other accomplishments included outreach; the creation of a task force to review shifting from an institutional-based model to a program-based one; expanding overseas programs; the thriving Special Needs Initiative; and the formation of the Public Education Initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which examines how the subject of Jews in Israel is treated in public textbooks.
Veeder said he enjoys being part of the impact the Federation makes on the community.
“I have had the opportunity to work side by side with extraordinary individuals, who contributed endless energy, time, resources, passion and enthusiasm in support of our Annual Campaign,” he said. “Not a day has gone by in the last 12 months that I have not been committed to guiding and initiating changes for the betterment of the Federation and my fellow Jews in Dallas and overseas.”
He added that among the goals for the upcoming year are to put a new marketing protocol in place with agencies receiving allocations, and to provide guidelines to enable partner agencies to acknowledge their relationship with the Federation.
Veeder believes that dedicated individuals will fulfill these aspirations and lead the way to the future.
“There is much we can accomplish not only individually, but when we work together as a group; the possibilities are endless,” he said. “It is important to keep our community vibrant and our Federation relevant to serve future needs here, in Israel and abroad. I am excited to be a part of a celebratory milestone year, honoring a century of service the Federation has provided…. It is the responsibility of each Jew to care for one another and we must keep Federation’s mission alive in the years to come.”
Awards were presented to individuals who made their mark in the community. The recipients were: Stacey Baer, the Bess Nathan Leadership Award; Doug Baer, the I. Zesmer Leadership Award; Sandy Cohen, the Helen Gross Leadership Award; Bill Finkelstein, the Campaigner of the Year Award; and Stuart Blaugrund and Louis Zweig, Special Recognition Awards.
Leaders from the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center made a special presentation as well, donating $100,000 to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. Alan Shor, JCC chairman, said the Federation assisted when the JCC was in need and he felt it was imperative to give back.
“The JCC and Federation have a long and proud history of supporting each other,” he said. “We share not only a campus, but much more. The JCC is healthy and we have built a solid foundation. We are growing, and it’s time for us to give something back to the community. That will always be our goal — to be community-minded and support the Federation and other Jewish agencies.”