Active Jewish Federation Donor Couple Says They Get as Much Back as They Contribute


Mark and Penni Blaskey have donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for more than 40 years, but their involvement revolves around much more than money.


Mark and Penni Blaskey have donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for more than 40 years, but their involvement revolves around much more than money.

Mark serves on the Jewish Federation Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and Abramson Center for Jewish Life’s Board of Trustees. He also is one of the vice chairs of the Jewish Federation annual campaign and will become its treasurer in September.

Prior service includes a stint as chair of the Jewish Federation Endowment Corporation and participation in many other committees, including on the board of the Center for Jewish Life and Learning. He also is a member of the AIPAC leadership counsel in Philadelphia.

A Jewish Federation mission to Israel in 1998 to celebrate Israel’s 50th anniversary triggered the couple’s active involvement. It was their first trip there, as part of a group from Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park — where Mark was the president. They became close with others on the trip, including Ande Adelman, who eventually got them involved and brought them into the Jewish Federation family.

Over the years, in addition to their annual contributions, the Blaskeys became members of the Lion’s Gate of the Jewish Federation’s Legacy Society, which honors those who have pledged an endowment gift between $100,000 and $249,999. Penni recently spearheaded the Women of Vision advancement campaign with a lead gift.

“We feel very blessed,” said Penni, a psychologist with her own private practice, specializing in working with children and families, primarily through testing for learning problems.

“That’s my reason for giving back, to help others in whatever way I can to be able to accomplish their goals in ways that they haven’t been fortunate enough to do on their own.”

In that regard, the Jewish Federation is a good fit for their philanthropy, explained Penni, who described how the Jewish Federation’s Women of Vision Foundation, which she chairs, focuses on social change for Jewish women and girls in Philadelphia and Israel.

“The emphasis, for me in particular, is making the world a better place for my children and grandchildren and for Jewish women and girls in general,” Penni, who also serves on the Jewish Federation’s Board of Trustees, Women’s Philanthropy and HIAS, said.

Echoing his wife’s sentiments, Mark, an attorney at Pepper Hamilton who chairs the firm’s Trusts and Estates Group, sees his involvement as part of the overall improvement of the Jewish community in America and abroad.

“We’ve been fortunate to live at a time when Jews have had it very good,” said Mark.

“It’s really been the Golden Age for Jews in the United States and the world,” he continued.

“I want to protect … and preserve what we have [to ensure] a good future for our children and grandchildren, and to protect and support the elderly and impoverished in our community.”

They have four children, Lisa and Matt DeCamp and Sharon and Mark Binger, and four grandchildren, Maya, Lauren, Logan and Eliza.

That means strengthening communal institutions in the United States, including synagogues and agencies in the Philadelphia area; Jewish communities abroad, including Israel; and protecting and supporting the State of Israel — all Jewish Federation goals, said Mark, who was born the same year as Israel’s independence.

“I have never known a world without the State of Israel, and I hope that my children and grandchildren will be able to say the same,” he said.

The Blaskeys remain members of Beth Sholom and also are members of Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel.

“I do feel that, religiously, it is our obligation to help others,” said Penni.

But while the community had benefitted from their philanthropy, the Blaskeys have benefitted as well, developing friendships through the Jewish Federation family that Penni described as an added bonus.

“[Jewish] Federation provides a community, not only in Philadelphia but in communities throughout North America,” Mark explained. “It’s also important to see [Jewish] Federation as a community umbrella, which is there to protect all the Jews in the community — old and young, rich or poor, from whatever [denomination], Conservative, Orthodox, Reform.

“[Jewish] Federation really provides that umbrella which is there and hopefully will always be there for … future Jews.”

This article is part of an occasional series of profiles on Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.

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