For Adam and Sara Laver, it was love at first Jewish Federation meeting.
The couple met during a meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Renaissance Group — now referred to as NextGen — around 2004.
“I have to explain to younger people — we actually had meetings where you went and sat in a room together,” Sara Laver joked.
Adam Laver recalled showing up a few minutes late, but another member “whispered in my ear, ‘There’s someone new here — be nice to her,’” he laughed. “And that was Sara.”
As they built their relationship, they included the Jewish Federation in their lives.
Adam Laver had always felt a strong connection to Philadelphia’s Jewish community.
“To be Jewish in Philadelphia means to participate in community and that our Jewish Federation is our central address,” he explained.
He got involved with Jewish Federation’s Renaissance Group after returning to Philadelphia from Rutgers Law School.
“It wasn’t outreach. It was more coming from a sense of obligation in terms of commandment and mitzvah, to give back and to be involved and not to separate oneself from community,” he said.
Both Lavers later attended a Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) young leadership conference in Washington, D.C., which is where they really hit it off.
“We lobbied on Capitol Hill, and then on the bus back to the hotel, I sat next to him,” Sara Laver remembered.
They chatted about their common interests — both of their mothers are artists; they grew up in Center City in Conservative homes — as well as the Jewish Federation, and kept in touch about upcoming events together, even co-chairing a few.
“We were out for dinner and I was like, ‘You know what? This is a date,’” Sara Laver said.
Nine months later, they were engaged, and after another nine months, they were married.
“Jewish Federation is special to us because it’s how we met. I sort of joke that we’re a success story, meeting through [Jewish] Federation,” Sara Laver said.
“We always felt that it was our Jewish Federation that brought us together, and we owe so much to our community for that,” Adam Laver added.
Being alumni and award recipients of the National Young Leadership Cabinet, an intensive six-year leadership program through JFNA, also deepened their bond.
Sara Laver was vice president and on the board of Women’s Philanthropy for six years and recently joined the Jewish Federation’s Commission for Jewish Life and Learning. She also served on the Board of Trustees twice. She is a Lion a Judah, an honorary title for those who donate $5,000 or more to support Jewish causes.
Adam Laver, a partner at Blank Rome, was recently named chairman of the board of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia. He also serves on the board of trustees and on the board of directors of Israel Bonds.
The couple live in Rittenhouse Square and are active with Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel.
“The work that Jewish Federation and [Jewish] Federations of North America do is a reminder that we need to be there for other Jews and also for people who are less fortunate,” Sara Laver said. “I like knowing that [the Jewish] Federation is looking out for the best ways to allocate Jewish money and support Jewish causes and needs.”
They also convey that message to their children, Alana, 9, and Noah, 6.
“We try to share with our kids the work that we do at [the Jewish] Federation so that they understand where we’re prioritizing time and money, and that’s part of being Jewish to us,” Sara Laver said.
“We really talk to them a lot about what we’re doing, when we’re at meetings and events,” Adam Laver continued. “We tell them what they are about and we try to balance being away from home with explaining to them the importance and the expectations that we have for them to also be involved and look for opportunities for them to have hands-on experiences.”
Adam Laver’s sense of community goes back to his great-grandfather, Samuel.
“I feel a strong sense of connection with those who came before us, people from places with names that are hard to pronounce and difficult to spell,” he said — places like the shtetl of Obodovka, where Samuel lived.
Adam Laver researched Samuel’s experience in fleeing the pogroms, leaving everything behind and immigrating to Philadelphia around 1905. Samuel later became a founding member of Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras Israel, now known as the Little Shul, on South Fourth Street in South Philadelphia.
“There were stories that were passed down to me about my great-grandfather leaving buckets of coal on the steps of a widow with children anonymously because that’s what one Jew does for another,” he said of Samuel’s generosity. “So I interpreted those stories and that background and this commitment to the Jews of Philadelphia to the present day and to what our Jewish Federation does.”
This article is part of an occasional series of profiles of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.
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