The Jewish Federation Real Estate (JFRE) affinity group has quickly become one of the leading forces of both commercial real estate development and social service support in the Greater Philadelphia area.
As Executive Committee Chairman Michael Markman, the president of BET Investments, explained, “between the group of developers and real estate professionals who make up JFRE, we touch at least 50 percent of all the major real estate projects in the Greater Philadelphia area in one way or another.”
Markman’s knowledge of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia extends back to his childhood, but it’s the Jewish Exponent that brought him back in as an adult. Five years ago, Markman’s company was looking for the best place to advertise their new 55-and-older apartment complex in Upper Dublin. “As a child, and as an adult, I’ve always read the Jewish Exponent,” he explained. “I knew the Exponent reached the same target population as my apartment complex, so we decided to advertise there.”
His interactions with the Exponent reintroduced him to the Jewish Federation, and by attending events he realized that many of his peers from the real estate world were getting involved in JFRE. Connecting its members to each other and to the industry’s most prominent experts and leaders is central to JFRE’s mission, and Markman was impressed by the number of non-Jewish participants who were eager to get involved. “It’s a great thing because we pool our resources in a way to help raise money.”
The JFRE fund typically raises more than $500,000 each year. Once raised, the money goes to a variety of projects, in particular those that cater to the disadvantaged or older citizens, such as home repairs for Holocaust survivors in Northeast Philadelphia and in Israel. This kind of work inspired Markman to step up to a leadership role: “The fact that we can take our resources and help commit them to people that deserve attention and deserve to live in a better living situation and a better home is extremely satisfying.”
The extent of JFRE’s reach in the real estate community was most recently highlighted at an event held at the new Hanover North Broad apartment complex. The complex is an extraordinary display of partnership between The Hanover Company and the Parkway Corporation: the extension of the campus which has “extended Philadelphia down Broad Street” and will redefine development for the area. Rob Zuritsky, president of the Parkway Corporation and a JFRE Executive Committee member, provided remarks to the 125-member crowd for the event, which he underwrote with Jake Reiter, president of Verde Capital.
Markman and the JFRE Executive Committee have big plans for 2018. Upcoming events include a members-only JFRE CEO panel discussion on Jan. 10, and the extremely popular Legends and Leaders, the annual roundtable event with our region’s most brilliant real estate minds will return on May 4. JFRE is continuously open to new members, JFRE membership is a $1,000 donation to either the JFRE Fund or the Jewish Community Fund and applications for 2018 projects are being accepted. Visit jewishphilly.org/jfre to donate or access the application process or email [email protected] for more information.