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November 26, 2010

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 26, 2610 PAGE 15A In the lions' den: Federation women cap week in the Big Easy By Jacob Berkman NEW ORLEANS, La. (JTA)--Just down the road from where the General As- sembly of the Jewish Federa- tions of North America had concluded a day earlier, more than a thousand of the federa- tion system's most generous women found a philanthropic sanctuary of their own. At the Hilton Hotel here, the International Lion of Judah Conference drew about 1,100 of the women that the federation system refers to as "lions'Mthose who give at least $5,000 each year to the system--for a number of ses- sions dedicated to showcasing the best of what that system supports and highlighting some of the interesting proj- ects women are running in the broader Jewish nonprofit world. They told stories about strong women and mothers. And at a conference without menl the humor was decid- edly female-centric: Comic Judy Gold, performing at its closing gala, got her biggest laugh in response to a joke involving a yeast infection and Passover. The absence of men was vitally important to making the five-day event a success, said guests at the Nov. 10 clos- ing gala at the Hilton. "You can letyour hair down more," Shanny Morgenstern, the president of women's phi- lanthropy at the Kansas City federation, told JTA. While annual campaigns have fallen across the country with the recession, women's giving to the federation has held steady over the past two years, said Kim Fish, the senior director of national women's pfiilanthropy for the Jewish Federations of North America. Bernie Saul for Jewish Federations of North America TMpi I'vni,erael'$ oppo- sition leader, speaks at the InternaHonal I'on of Judah Conference in New Orleans. The lions made $19.1 mil- lion in pledges over the course of their conference--a 12 percent increase compared to their last get-together in late 2008,justbefore the recession took hold. In the Big Easy, their average gift was more than $17,000. The Lion of Judah has become something of a cul- tural phenomenon within the federation world since Norma Wilson came up with the concept in Miami in 1972. Her ideawas to spur giving by rewarding women who gave $5,000 or more with a gold brooch featuring aroar- ing lion and a diamond eye. As the idea spread from fed- eration to federation the lion evolved, with the diamond eye turning into a ruby for a gift of $10,000, a sapphire for $18,000 and an emerald for $25,000. The lion turns plati- num if a woman has given a gift of more than $100,000-- and if a woman endows her gift, the philanthropic feline gets a little gold torch to hold in its outstretched paw. And while the GA, the annual conference for the federation system's lay and professional leaders, is more about the system's func- tionality, best practices and policy, the biannual Lion of Judah conference is strictly about fundraising--and in- stilling a sense of feminine camaraderie in some of the most generous benefactors of the multibillion-dollar p year charitable system. It's about sisterhood," Bari Freiden, a Lion from Kansas City, told JTA be- tween sessions. "You are all the same because you are at a certain giving level or above no matter where you are from. You recognize a lion and all of a sudden you have a connection." The idea has worked--b.ig time. The federations may do a better job of raising money from women than any other philanthropy, Jewishor not. About 17,000 women in the United States have become Lions, and they provide the core of the $180 million raised by the federa- tions through their women's philanthropy campaign. All told, giving by women accounts for about 23 per- cent of the annual $900 million general campaign, according to Fish. At federations like the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the women's cam- paign brings in about 40 percent of the organization's overall annual campaign, according to Steve Rakitt, the federation's president. While some insiders openly wondered whether federations should have spent more time at the GA working on how to articu- late their story more clearly, the system clearly knew how to pitch its Lions. Their JFGO Hanukah Project update By Jill Cousins Special to the Heritage With Chanukah just around the corner, there is an easy way to give friends and loved ones a gift that truly keeps on giving. The Hanukah Project, part of the Jewish Federa- tion of Greater Orlando's annual campaign, allows community members to purchase gift certificates online. Recipients will get their gifts in the mail and can-then redeem them by allocating the gift amounts to participating Jewish programs of their choice. The campaign is already underway and continues through Dec. 15. What better way to help the Jewish community and teach your children about tzedakah? "It'S the perfect Chanu- kah gift and a great way to introduce all of the Jewish organizations to the com- munity," said JFGO board member Brian Margolis. "The campaign is very direct. You can find out onlinewhat funds are needed for and how you can make a difference this Hanukah season." The caucus became a tear- filled affair as the women related their intensely per- sonal stories--and made financial pledges to their local federations, often dis- closing the dollar amount or at least the percentage of increase over their last pledge, according to several participants. Despite the success, some federation insiders say the model would need to be tweaked to attract a younger Bernie Saul for Jewish Federations of North America generation. This year the Oneofthe'lions'atthelnternationalLionofJudahconfer. conference included a ser- ence helps a young New Orleans reader during the event's vice project in which Lions, community service literacy project, in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Founda- conference this yearwas or- genstern of the Kansas City tion's PJ Library, handed out chestrated to put the federa- federation. "If there would backpacks of books to un- tions front and center, and be men, the women would derprivileged New Orleans to pull at the heartstrings be less open to share." children as the federations of its participants. "It is an exclusive net- become convinced that Sessions ranging from work both because it is service is the gateway to a "'Slim Peace: Diet fora Peace- women and the giving dollar younger generation. ful Planet" to"Strong Worn- amount," said Freiden, a fel- But for now, the federa- en and 'Lipstick' Leadership" low Kansas City lion. tions are banking on inspir- to "Business Women and And whilethatincludeda ing more giving through Politics" generally avoided bitoffemininehigh-jinkson sisterhood. becoming bogged down in BourbonStreetthatbothac- "if you put women in a philanthropic theory, in- knowledged, the conference situation where there is steadfocusingonmakingthe allied up to acaucus closed abundance and where they attendees aware of the more notonlytothepressbutalso can all succeed, they are interesting programs being to all but the highest-level incredibly cooperative and funded by the federations, staff, at which the women helpful to each other," Fre- The sessions toldthe stories poured out their hearts and iden said. "Whereas if you of the programs through opened their checkbooks, are in a situation where you women's voices. After spending five days are taking from my cubs, For example, during hearing about the power of" they come out with their one session, the American the federations and ofbeing claws. Here it doesn't hurt Jewish Joint Distribution women associated with the us to share good things. It Committee--one of the fed- federations, the Lions broke helps us and we help each eration system's two main into groups. The women sat other." overseaspartners--focused in a circle and, one by one, This article was adapted on a woman it rescued told their stories about how from The Fundermentalist from Georgia and another their local federation had newsletter; sign up at Fun- it saved from Bosnia. The personally touched them. " session also highlighted the generosity of Anne Heyman, a major funder who worked with the JDC to establish the Agahozo Shalom Youth Vil- lage in Rwanda for orphans of the country's genocide. EXCELLENCE IN ELDER CARE Each presentation drew more on the emotional than PROGRAMS AND SERVICES on nuts and bolts--and each River Garden Hebrew Home- included a pitch for the fed- " eration system. Traditional Long-Term Care, Short Plenary sessions were Stay Rehabilitation, Alzheimer's more about positioning the and Dementia Care federation and the Lion of The Coves - Independent Living Judah as not just organiza- tions offering opportunities Retirement Community at Paver Garden to donate to good works, The TheraFy Center-7 days a week but also venues for making friends and empowering I1 RIVER GARDEN women through philan- "thropy. Excellence in Adult Care and Services Having no men around was key, participants said. "You can say things you wouldn't necessarily say with men there," said Mor- JFGO Hanukah caption Bari Sholit redeems her Hanukah Project Gift Card at She can chose from more than 0 projects in the Jewish community. Among the participat- ing Jewish agencies and synagogues are Central Florida Hillel; Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Orlando; Congregation Bet Chaim, Casselberry; Congregation B'eth Am, Longwood; Congregation of Reform Judaism, Or- lando; Congregation Ohev Shalom; Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center; Jew- ish Academy of Orlando; Jewish Community Cen- ter; Jewish Family Ser- vices; Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; Kinneret Council on Aging; North Florida BBYO; Orlando Torah Academy; Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo; The Jewish Pavilion; and Traditional Congregation of Mount Dora. For more information, go-to the Jewish Federa- tion website at www.jfgo. org or call 407-645-5933, ext. 239. 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