A Message From Chairman of the Board Bernard Newman

As the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s new fiscal and program year gets underway, and just before the High Holidays begin, Chairman of the Board Bernard Newman shares a candid look back at 5776, and discusses what’s ahead for 5777.


Can you highlight what you feel were the Jewish Federation’s most outstanding organizational accomplishments from the past year?

Without question all elements of our rebranding, which provided us with a new look and new messaging to better represent who we are and what we do. This will enable us to attract new supporters, keep our current partners passionately involved, increase Jewish philanthropy, inspire new and renewed partnerships and continue our role as our Jewish communities’ thought leader through giving, inclusion and tradition.

We revised our bylaws, which was a huge undertaking by a large number of highly dedicated leaders. These bylaws are the backbone of our organization, and updating them was vital.

As many people know, we also restructured our Program, Strategy and Funding approach, which includes a new three-year funding cycle. This success was made possible by a close working partnership between the professional staff and volunteers.

Another highlight was the increase in our Jewish Community Fund, a significant achievement in that it reversed a downward trend which had occurred in recent years.

Finally, we have brought terrific people on board. All of our top professional executive staff positions have been filled with exceptionally talented leaders.  Additionally, we have increased the number of people engaged at all levels within our volunteer community.


Can you think of examples you have seen firsthand of the Jewish Federation “carrying the light” to members of our communities?

Our ongoing efforts to grow opportunities in the area of providing children with summer camp experiences, one of the most effective informal Jewish education vehicles. Also, reaching out to our various Jewish Federation campus communities to discuss how to make the best use of these campuses in the coming years.

As far as carrying the light of hope and help to those in need, I have been impressed by the growth and increased support of our food pantry programs, as well as the strengthening of our relationship with our Israeli partnership communities Netivot and Sedot Negev through the

Partnership2Gether program both financially and through visits by our mission participants.

In “passing the torch” to the next generation, the growth and support of our NextGen group for emerging leaders ages 21 to 45 is another strong example of carrying the light to others.


One of the key aspects of the Jewish Federation’s work is inclusion. How does today’s Jewish Federation warmly welcome all members of all communities?

We have no bars or restrictions to anyone being welcome to participate in our Jewish Federation activities. We do not dwell on or seek information from anyone about their Jewish religious preferences or their sexual orientation, and we do not require minimum philanthropic giving to play an active role in our organization.


Core to the Jewish Federation’s work is bringing people together who give of their time, talent and treasure.  For those already involved with us, and for those who are considering getting involved, what do you feel are key ways we enable them to give of themselves?

We try to determine individuals’ level of experience both from their academic, work and/or previous and current community volunteer activities, and attempt to offer them opportunities once they indicate their preferences as to what they might like to do. We have a number of committees, such as Investment, Real Estate, Campaign, Endowment, the Jewish Publishing Group and Policy, Strategy and Funding, to name just a few. There are many more committees whose needs and composition are strengthened by those whose life experiences are akin to and in sync with each other.


What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the year ahead at the Jewish Federation?

The beginning of our Jewish Federation’s fiscal and program year coincides with the Jewish New Year. This makes good business sense. It enables us to evaluate our successes and where we may have fallen short over the past 12 months as a community and as an organization, and to plan for the year ahead. With that said, there are many things I am excited about for 5777. I’ll highlight some of them:


• Growing our campaign and financial resource development department, which will enable us to raise more resources.

• Further increasing community outreach within the five-county metropolitan area.

• Restructuring our board of directors to create a more strategic approach to individual responsibilities and leadership assignments.

• Addressing real estate matters on various Jewish Federation campuses.

• Growing our Missions Committee and pursuing greater mission participation in all segments of our entire Jewish community.

• Melding top professional team leadership with our volunteer participants to better serve local and worldwide Jewish needs, including Israel.

• Continuing to enhance meaningful relationships with interfaith families, LGBTQ community members, the Modern Orthodox community, and all those people who have expressed legitimate concerns and with whom we should meet to enable our Jewish Federation to better fulfill our mission.


I am humbled to spend another year working with and on behalf of the thousands of fine members of our communities locally, in Israel and around the world.  Now, at the High Holidays, when we have the opportunity to celebrate our blessings, I want to thank every single person who partners with us in any way to save and transform lives. May each of you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year. I wish you a sweet, healthy and happy 5777.


Bud Newman

Chairman of the Board


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