Main Event a Jewish Community Cornerstone

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The 2020 Main Event co-Chairs from left: Jeffrey Schwartz, Susan Schwartz, Lisa Studner and Brett Studner | Photo by Bob Aerenson

As we head into a new year, the Jewish Federation’s Main Event is always something Greater Philadelphia’s Jewish community looks forward to attending. It’s a chance for all of us to come together to reconnect and celebrate and provide support for our communities. But this year, like everything else in our lives, it’s going to be just a little bit different.

On Sept. 16, Greater Philadelphia’s Jewish community will be coming together, virtually, for an exciting new twist on the Main Event. At 1:00 p.m., guests will join a complimentary event via Zoom to see their Philadelphia-area friends and help us kick off our 2021 Annual Campaign.

We will then connect with Jewish Federations from across North America for a program filled with inspiration, storytelling and entertainment. Best of all? The program will feature celebrity guests Eugene, Dan and Sarah Levy from Emmy-nominated “Schitt’s Creek.”


For this year’s Main Event, bringing co-Chairs Susan and Jeff Schwartz and Lisa and Brett Studner on board was the key to success.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Studners and Schwartzes to bring something that has purpose in helping our community but also connecting us and bringing a little levity at a time that is really impacting all of us,” Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Board co-Chair Gail Norry said. “Our co-chairs have supported and been involved with our Jewish Federation for decades, and it is so nice to see they still care and are connected and share the passion for the work we do.”

For Susan Schwartz, taking on this task during such an unprecedented time makes the work all the more important.

“We’ve always been big supporters of our local Jewish Federation,” she said, “And we feel with the climate with coronavirus, now more than ever, Jewish Federation needs to have a presence in our community. Our community needs to know the Jewish Federation is here for them and working for them. That’s why it’s so important we have this event to reach out and try to bring as many people together as we can.”

Brett Studner agreed with Susan Schwartz: “The Jewish Federation has always been the umbrella organization and the leading organization in our Jewish fabric,” he said. “It’s important in times like this the Jewish Federation continues to lead by example and bring the community together in these surreal times. It’s simply what a leading organization does for its community. At a time of rising anti-Semitism, showing our community’s strength and connecting us together is incredibly important and impactful.”

Both the Studners and the Schwartzes are big fans of “Schitt’s Creek,” and having the Levy family participate this year is a huge draw. But just as exciting is the prospect of bringing the entire community together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“The fact we have 600 people tuning in is something to get very excited for,” Susan Schwartz said. “It’s a powerful feeling — community and togetherness. All on the call at the same time — watching the same video, it’s just great for community building.”

Just days before Rosh Hashanah begins, the Main Event will also kickoff the Jewish Federation’s annual campaign. For both the Schwartzes and the Studners, raising critical funds right now could not be more important.
“The Jewish Federation has always had their fingers on the pulse of the community and, therefore, the needs.” Brett Studner said. “Because of the grassroots involvement, we can get down to the grassroots level and make sure people’s needs are being met within the community.”

“People should give so we can help those most in need during the coronavirus,” Susan Schwartz added. “That’s what we do — that’s what we’re all about. Right now, there are people on our radar that would never have been on it before, because unemployment really affected every aspect of every field. People really and truly need us, and we need to be helping people survive and ensure they have the basic necessities, like food.”
While the Jewish Federation would much rather be gathering the community together in person, the opportunity to do so virtually, and safely, will be just as meaningful.

“For first time an entire cross-section of the community is affected in one way or another,” Norry said. “It brings so much relevance to the event: We are the community convener, we can be nimble and just turn on a dime to be responsive.”

To learn more and to register for the Main Event on Sept. 16 from 1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m., visit Jewishphilly.org/MainEvent. For questions or help
registering, call 215.832.0852 or email mainevent@jewishphilly.org.

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