A year after he returned to Philadelphia from Harvard Law School during the era of bell-bottom jeans, James Rosenstein got involved with Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
“I wanted to learn more about Jewish life in the city,” he said, so “I joined the Young Men’s Service Committee for the Jewish Federation. I even became chair at one point.”
Since then, the Center City resident also has served as chair of the Committee of Allocations and Planning, a body he noted is vital for the Jewish community.
“I’m concerned that many of us make our charitable contributions on less than full information on what options are available for us to achieve philanthropic goals and help the community,” he explained.
Marketing campaigns for specific charities may increase individual organizations’ resources, Rosenstein said, but many worthwhile nonprofits are left under-funded when donations are diverted into individual charities.
“The Jewish Federation’s allocations and planning system helps identify where the needs are in the community and how to meet those needs,” he said, pointing out that it functions perhaps more effectively than do donors acting alone.
Rosenstein also works with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
He enjoys hiking with wife Linda, locally around Wissahickon Valley Park and also on the Appalachian Trail.
He has an adult daughter living in Annapolis, Md., with his two grandsons. He was a longtime tennis player, “but I retired this year before I broke any bones or had any serious injuries.”
A member of Society Hill Synagogue, Rosenstein enjoys the shul’s adult education program, as well as Gratz College and the Jewish Federation’s similar classes.
“I am a native Philadelphian,” he said. “I lived originally in Oak Lane and Mount Airy, and I went to Central High School. I left the area to go to college at Harvard. When I was in college, my expectation was that I would go into science or engineering. I was a physics major.”
However, after his undergraduate studies, Rosenstein spent four years in the Navy.
“When that was over, I realized that if I wanted to pursue a career in the sciences, I would have to do a lot of remedial work. I was four years behind the times,” he said. “So, I decided to look for other things where I might have some skills, and one possibility that occurred to me was law school.”
The mediator for business disputes and lawyer at Fineman Krekstein & Harris P.C. said that between work and charitable causes, he is busy.
He concluded by noting the importance of charity.
“I have been actively involved in the delivery of services of the Jewish Federation and other agencies since the early 1970s,” he said. “It really convinced me of the importance of giving to the community.”
This article is part of an occasional series of profiles of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.