Following the opening of the revamped $7 million Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza in October, the Jewish Federation Real Estate Group (JFRE) is turning its focus in 2019 to another area of interest — security.
“We’re assessing what our synagogues and schools need,” said JFRE Executive Committee Chairman Michael Markman, president of BET Investments. “We’ve already gotten several requests. As JFRE goes on, we’ve been able to raise more and more money for projects like this. We want to make sure all our synagogues are protected, especially after what happened in Pittsburgh. It give us satisfaction to be able to help in an important area.”
Decisions about the projects to pursue are made by the entire Executive Committee.
“We have no fixed procedure when we meet,” said committee member Jake Reiter, president of Verde Capital. “But when this group comes together, it is magic. We all feel very fortunate, at this stage of life, we are in position to help our Jewish community and provide for its needs. All of us are on several boards, and our executive committee runs smoother than any of them.”
Members say they’ve built a formidable team with the economic muscle to get things done.
“The [Holocaust Plaza] project succeeded because we all helped each other,” said David Adelman, who also is the chairman of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation (PHRF).
“What we accomplished together was very satisfying,” said Matt Pestronk, president of Post Brothers Apartments and an executive committee member.
Those accomplishments included Bill Glazer, president and CEO of Keystone Property Group, helping to sell $53 million in Israel Bonds, setting a record. In addition, JFRE member Brad Krouse, managing partner of Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg, chaired the 2018 Jewish Federation Main Event, while JFRE’s Rob Zuritsky, president of the Parkway Corp., chaired the National Museum of American Jewish History gala. Both credited their peers with making the events a success.
But with all this very public work, JFRE has also completed several under-the-radar projects in recent years, investing nearly $1.5 million in repairing homes for low-income older adults and families, supporting food pantries and safe houses for at-risk youth, upgrading Jewish camp facilities and facilitating other projects in Philadelphia and Israel, where a kindergarten was built.
“We try to help as many as we can,” Reiter said. “We work closely with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The money comes in, the money goes out, to help the community.”