Fifty-one Jewish philanthropists from the Philadelphia area attended the 2019 International Lion of Judah Conference, held earlier this month in Hollywood, Fla.
Those 51, the region’s largest delegation in recent memory, are among 17,000 women from around the world who raised more than $35.9 million in contributions for Jewish causes.
At this year’s conference, the leader of the Greater Philadelphia delegation was Lyn Neff, the latest winner of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award, which recognizes women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism in their communities.
In addition, the award embodies the spirit and vision of the Lions of Judah through a commitment to tzedakah and tikkun olam. She was cited for philanthropic and volunteer commitments that made a significant impact on her community, not to mention setting a standard for others in community motivation and leadership.
Neff has been involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for more than 30 years. The Villanova resident helped form the Committee for the Jewish Poor and, with her husband, Roy, created the Mitzvah Food Pantry Choice Food Program, an innovative means of addressing food insecurity using touch-screen interfaces and nutrition-based pricing.
She also is a Jewish Federation trustee, serves on the board of Women’s Philanthropy, been part of several missions and chaired many other Jewish Federation committees.
“I certainly felt honored, but I also felt humbled,” Neff said. “You are in the trenches, doing all the work you do, and awards are not what you think of. I look at the list of the previous seven Philadelphia awardees and I am so humbled that I am in their company.”
Neff joins Phyllis Finkelstein (2016), Connie Smukler (2014), Ann Spain (2012), Lana Dishier (2010), Beth Reisbord (2008), Cis Golder (2006) and Anabelle Fishman (2004) as past Philadelphia Lions of Judah honorees.
“Those women have all been role models for all the rest of us,” Neff said.
She centers her regional efforts around trying to alleviate hunger in the Jewish community and elsewhere.
“The level of Jewish poverty in our community is not recognized as it needs to be,” Neff said. “Say a person has only a limited amount for food, heat and medicine. That person will either go hungry, or not have his medicine and freeze. If we can help with the food, the money available can got to other necessities. And we end up not just feeding Jews, using what money is available as efficiently as possible.”
And she is proud to be a Lion of Judah.
“I enjoy being in the company of other Lions,” Neff said. “The conference in Florida was amazing. You see so many ideas and learn so many different ways to help. All of us think more of others before ourselves. You are at the conference with 1,400 other amazing people who impress you, and we all come back home so energized. This is the future of our community, with a lot of younger women, in their 40s, wanting to become involved and help. Every Lion, in my opinion, deserves an award.”
Neff and her husband also look to help with their family’s Auldridge Fund, a charitable foundation.
Marni Davis, in her eighth year as the Women’s Philanthropy director, explained what the Lions of Judah are about and why their work is important.
“This organization is open to all women who contribute $5,000 annually, in each community,” Davis said.
“We know how important it is to be philanthropists and we care about what we do,” she said.