Welcome to The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee Newsroom, where you can find information on news, marketing and public relations for our Federation.
May 30, 2018—Marty Katz
Community philanthropist Larry Greenspon's gift anchors the redevelopment of the Federation Campus
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has received a cornerstone lead gift from community philanthropist Larry Greenspon, creating "The Larry Greenspon Family Campus for Jewish Life" and "The Larry and Mary Greenspon Sports Complex." The gift will be used for the redevelopment of its 32-acre campus on McIntosh Road in Sarasota.
“It’s difficult to fully express our gratitude to Larry for this very impactful gift,” says Michael Ritter, Federation Board President. “Larry has always been a visionary and passionate believer in Israel, Judaism and our Sarasota-Manatee Jewish community. He is a role model, a trendsetter and someone who shares our vision of what Jewish life can and should be now and in the future. Our entire community will benefit from Larry’s generosity.”
For many years, Larry and Mary have been strong supporters of the Federation. Most recently, they were the lead sponsor of the well-attended Israel@70 community programs and Larry was also honored with the Federation’s “Man of Valor” award. A Chicago native who has lived in the Sarasota area for over 20 years, Larry says “I am impressed with the Federation's vision to create a much more extensive multi-use campus for Jewish life in Sarasota-Manatee. I am honored to connect my family's name to that vision and look forward to seeing it become a reality."
Larry and Mary are also major supporters of the Israel Tennis Centers (ITC), a non-profit that brings tennis and education together to shape the character and transform the lives of 20,000 children annually at its 14 tennis centers throughout Israel. As a former International Chair of the ITC, Larry’s leadership, passion and philanthropy has helped thousands of vulnerable Israeli children, both Jewish and non-Jewish, recognize their potential and realize their dreams. Through tennis, the children improve their physical and healthful well-being and develop “life skills” such as self-confidence, independence, trust in peers and authority, teamwork, focus, goal setting and problem solving. Since 2001, Larry has chaired and generously supported more than 16 years of ITC exhibitions in Sarasota and Longboat Key. In 2017, Larry and Mary announced the dedication of Israel’s premiere tennis center in Ramat HaSharon that was named in their honor.
During the last several months, Federation management and its Board have been working on plans to both refurbish and redevelop its campus. Formal announcements regarding a community-wide capital campaign and other related initiatives will be forthcoming later this year.
November 5, 2017—Kim Mullins
The LIFE & LEGACY™ Program Raises $6 Million in Six Months. Eleven Sarasota-Manatee area Jewish organizations will receive support to build substantial endowments.
One year ago, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee (JFSM) launched an initiative to transform the philanthropic culture of Sarasota-Manatee’s Jewish community with the LIFE & LEGACY™ program. The four-year program, which joins similar efforts in more than 40 cities around the country, is a partnership program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and managed by JFSM in this region. Through the program, lay leaders and staff from a cross-section of synagogues, social service agencies, and day schools are receiving training, support and monetary incentives to start conversations, secure legacy gifts, steward donors and integrate legacy giving into the philanthropic culture of the Jewish community.
According to Gisele Pintchuck, the director of the LIFE & LEGACY director at JFSM, the results have been extraordinary. “Our minimum goal of securing 198 letters of intent was exceeded and the estimated volume of legacy gifts is astonishing. We raised more than $6 million in promised gifts for our community in the first six months of the program.”
Pintchuck says that the 11 local agencies that are partners in the program are Chabad of Sarasota & Manatee Counties, Chabad of Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch, Chabad of Venice & North Port, Hershorin-Schiff Community Day School, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Jewish Housing Council Foundation/Aviva, Temple Beth Israel, Temple Beth Sholom, Temple Emanu-El and Temple Sinai. “These organizations have teamed up to engage donors in conversation and promote the importance of planning for the future and securing Jewish tomorrows for generations to come,” says Pintchuck.
“This program is a real game-changer,” said Albert Ernest, chair of the LIFE & LEGACY program in Sarasota-Manatee. “It does two important things at the same time: It enables donors to fulfill their philanthropic wishes by supporting specific needs in the Jewish community, and provides critical resources for our agencies, synagogues and community to meet unforeseen challenges and build for the future.”
Upon completion of the program’s first year, the Federation will host a special event on April 26, 2018, “to celebrate the community’s accomplishments, thank all partnering organizations and honor all legacy donors for their generosity and commitment to the future of the local Jewish community,” says Pintchuck.
For more information about the program, contact the LIFE & LEGACY director, Gisele Pintchuck at 941-706-0029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 25, 2017—Kim Mullins
Announcing the New Levenson Exchange and Advocacy Program (LEAP)
Over the past 10 years, more than 150 area high school sophomores and juniors were given the opportunity to visit Israel as participants of the Bob Malkin Young Ambassador (BMYA) program, a Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee initiative. Now, thanks to a generous gift from Sarasota-based philanthropists Bart and Joan Levenson, the Levenson Exchange and Advocacy Program (LEAP) will further enhance the BMYA experience.
According to Andrea Eiffert, the coordinator for the Federation’s BMYA program, LEAP’s additional funding will pay for a BMYA coordinator in Tel Mond, Israel, and cover the costs of an educator here to teach area students beginning Hebrew. “We’re expanding the BMYA program to include interactive educational sessions for Israeli and area teens,” she says. “Students from both parts of the world will learn about each other’s culture and language—and also interreact via Skype.”
Eiffert explains that Sarasota-Manatee Young Ambassadors will travel to Israel for two weeks this summer to meet the Tel Mond Young Ambassadors. The American teens will experience Israel alongside their Israeli counterparts, including visiting holy sites, celebrating Shabbat, and exploring the country. To complete the cycle, in 2019, Tel Mond Young Ambassadors will visit Sarasota to experience life in the Sarasota-Manatee region.
“LEAP is a giant step in experiential learning and the possibilities are boundless,” says Eiffert. “We’re honored that the Levensons recognize the importance of the Bob Malkin Young Ambassador program. With their generous gift, we’re ensured the program will continue to strengthen bonds of friendship between Sarasota-Manatee teens and their counterparts in Israel.” The BMYA program continues to be funded through the generosity of many donors of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.
Eligible students should identify as Jewish, reside in Sarasota or Manatee counties and currently be in grades 10 or 11. Applications are being accepted online at jfedsrq.org/bmya until November 16. For more information, contact Andrea Eiffert at 941-552-6308 or Aeiffert@jfedsrq.org.
For more information about The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, call 941-371-4546 or visit www.jfedsrq.org/bmya.
September 13, 2017—Jerry Silverman, CEO Jewish Federations of America
Hurricane Irma: Long-Term Power Outages Creating Health Risks for Seniors
Hurricane Irma’s unexpected shift to Florida’s west coast appears to have mostly spared our largest Jewish population centers from what could have been a terrible disaster. But long-term power outages in Florida’s hot and humid climate are raising serious health concerns, especially for many seniors. According to The New York Times, there have already been a number of deaths in nursing homes. Some areas of the state could be looking at 10 more days without electricity.
Jacob Solomon, president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, spoke to The Jerusalem Post earlier this week and mentioned the community’s concern for vulnerable populations like the elderly.
JFNA has checked with every affected community, and preliminary reports show moderate to little institutional damage. The major facilities that support Jewish communal life are intact. However, we are still working to get a handle on the number of individual homes affected by flooding.
Hurricane Harvey Relief: $12 Million Raised; Initial Needs Assessment Should Be Completed this Week
To date, the Hurricane Harvey relief effort has raised about $12 million. Later this week, JFNA’s Emergency Committee and the Houston Federation’s local allocations committee are both meeting to review a comprehensive framework to address recovery and rebuilding needs, now estimated to be in the $26-33 million range.
JFNA’s third national team is on the ground in Houston this week, represented by Joy Goldstein, associate vice president of planning at JFNA, and Andi Milens, director of engagement and leadership development at the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. Local focus remains strong on readying synagogues for the High Holiday season and on maintaining the campaign’s momentum.
National Young Leadership Cabinet gathered 20 people from communities around the country last week for a three-day mission to Houston, which was well-received. The group was involved in setting up the JCC’s temporary preschool site and in cleaning up homes. Here’s a video they produced about the visit.
We have begun to gather stories of how Federations have helped flood victims. Below is the first of what we hope will be regular installments.
STORY OF FEDERATION IMPACT
On the night Hurricane Harvey flooded their home, two of Judi and Roger’s four sons were staying with their grandparents. They were the lucky ones. Since that night, the rest of the family has been struggling to overcome the trauma. And Judi is grateful to the Jewish Federation for providing not only practical support to help them put their lives back together, but also the trauma counseling she and her family needed.
Their home had never been flooded before — neither had their street — and they were unprepared for just how quickly it happened. Before they even had a chance to pack a change of clothes, the family found themselves huddled on a bed, watching in disbelief as the water rushed in and surrounded them. It was too late to get to the roof of their one-story house, so when their neighbors offered them a room on their second floor, Roger put his seven-year-old son on his shoulders and they all waded outside through waist-deep water.
“We were on our neighbor’s second floor for three days,” Judi recounted. All four of them, along with two dogs, using a child’s bedroom as a shelter, with their hosts in the room next door and a foot of water on the first floor. Rather than attempt evacuation, they decided it would be safer and more comfortable to stay put.
Out on the street, the water current was so strong that Judi couldn’t get into her house to try to salvage a few things. When she finally was able to get inside, she grabbed her laptop and a few other items. But virtually everything the family owned was destroyed.
The Jewish community came through with the help they needed. Meals arrived, and volunteers showed up to help them sort through their belongings. The JCC handed out supplies and Target gift cards. The Federation provided emergency money to get them through the weekend, no questions asked. Volunteers from the Federation’s Young Leadership department came to help them pack up. “When everyone else had left, they stayed and continued to help us. Even when I said, ‘No, other people need help more,’ they still sent help. They knew I needed it.”
But for Judi and her family, the most valuable service the Jewish community provided was trauma counseling. “Jewish Family Service set up shop in the JCC, providing someone I could talk to who was there to listen when I really needed it. I could break down because they were there to help.”
A therapist herself, Judi has been moved by the support offered to her family. “It’s not easy for me to ask for help — I’m used to giving help. It’s been a humbling experience,” she said. “We’re so fortunate to have this community. The Houston Jewish community will survive this and come back stronger.”