Andrew Yaffe, 35, prefers to describe himself as “mildly religious,” but the Harriton High School graduate and Haverford native believes strongly in the idea that pride in Judaism needn’t be paired with deeply held religious beliefs. The preferred outlet for his dedication is the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the real estate developer spoke recently about his favorite Jewish Federation events, Israel and more.
Q: When did you first get involved with Jewish Federation?
A: I guess I originally got involved in [Jewish] Federation probably around 2005, when I moved back here after college. I was working. And then I moved to New York in 2007, and then I moved back to Philadelphia around 2009-ish. I shortly thereafter got involved with JFRE (Jewish Federation Real Estate Group), just going to events and got more involved in knowing the people. I really found it to be a nice platform for people to meet, socialize with one another, do business and give back to the community. I’ve met a lot of great people that I otherwise probably wouldn’t be friendly with.
[Jewish] Federation has done a really good job of providing a give and take, meaning that I get a lot of benefits from it. Socially, business-wise, self-satisfaction of feeling like I’m doing good. It makes me want to give back to it.
Q: What was it that made you get involved initially?
A: My family’s always had some involvement in the Jewish community at large. But I wanted to be a part of the community fabric, and the [Jewish] Federation has done a really good job … of continuing to reinvent themselves and make it attractive to younger generations to get more involved with it. Where there was a stigma at least … before my time, that it was just ask-and-take all the time. That they provide great events to go to, whether it be guest speakers … or social gatherings, or JFRE does their real estate events that have grown.
Q: Are there any events that stick out for you as really memorable?
A: Well, the Legends and Leaders JFRE events are great. I was honored to be able to chair a joint event with Birthright and Jewish Federation in support of Birthright, in the spring of 2017. I helped host an event at the top of the Comcast Center, and it was really nice, and well-attended and we saw a lot of new faces … so that event obviously stands out to me.
The Main Event is always a great event and Legends and Leaders has grown into one of the, if not the best, real estate events in Philadelphia.
Q: What about particular programs?
A: So, I am now on the NextGen board. … I partake in the JFRE affinity group. I just began serving on a newly formed committee for missions, giving feedback, trying to continue to improve the mission experience, and I was fortunate to go on a 2018 men’s mission to Israel. … Obviously, Israel was phenomenal, but my favorite part of the trip was the people I met from the Greater Philadelphia area who I formed relationships with, and some of the guys I’ve known for many years, but only on an acquaintance level that are now very close friends of mine.
This article is part of an occasional series of profiles of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia supporters.