If you’ve ever taken a Starr bus from Philadelphia to John F. Kennedy International Airport for your impending Birthright trip, thank Renee and Alan Glickman.
The owners of the bus transit company, based in Hamilton Township, N.J., contribute most of their philanthropic endeavors to Jewish programming, mainly through the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The couple, who live in New Hope, are Lions of Judah, a designation of donors who give at least $5,000 to the Jewish Federation annually.
Giving has been a family tradition for more than 50 years.
“It’s really the best way to support Israel and the [Jewish] Federation agencies,” Alan Glickman said. “We also think about Birthright for the grandkids — we have three grandboys, and that’s certainly a way to support them through [Jewish] Federation.”
Renee Glickman attended a March of the Living trip about two years ago through the Women’s Philanthropy group, and she’s looking into doing another type of trip, in addition to her second visit to Israel in the coming year.
Of the 50 women on the trip — which visits Poland, Auschwitz and then Israel — Renee Glickman was the only one who had never been to Israel before.
Close friend Judy Newman — whose husband, Bud Newman, served as the immediate past president of the Jewish Federation — convinced Renee Glickman to go, even though she didn’t know anyone else.
“Everybody was nice as could be,” she recalled. “It was just women, and everybody kind of looked after each other. … And, of course, the emotion of being in Auschwitz is pretty unbelievable. The support that everybody gave each other as we came through, people crying — everybody was really special. A very lovely group of women.”
Her only complaint: She wished she could spend more time in Israel. They toured the Old City and visited the Western Wall; “everybody got a kick that I was at the wall for the first time,” she said.
“But I’m not in the habit of leaving my husband for any long periods of time, and this was long for me,” she laughed. “He kept saying, ‘Who’s going to do the laundry?’ I said, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ And he did.”
Alan Glickman views charitable giving as an obligation.
“We hope to be able to do this forever,” he said. “It’s really our obligation as Jews to do this, and it’s something we want to do.”
“It’s a great way to support Jews around the world,” added Renee Glickman.
The couple, who belong to Shir Ami in Bucks County, took over as Starr owners in the early 1990s — the company dates back in the family to 1947. In the ’70s, corporate giving allowed the transit company to donate directly to the Jewish Federation. Now, the Glickmans donate individually.
Aside from bussing young people to the airport for Birthright, their work crosses over to the Jewish Federation and sometimes provides transportation for its agencies, like driving kids to Camp Ramah.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing and that I want to do,” Alan Glickman added.
This article is part of an occasional series of profiles of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.
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