Carrying the Light through 2020 and Beyond

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Photo by Mark Berman
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia recently closed the 2020 Annual Campaign on Aug. 31, rather than Dec. 31, to align with the fiscal year. Although the Annual Campaign period lasted eight months versus the usual twelve, $14.7 million was raised, 41% and $5.6 million ahead of the same eight-month period last year.

The generosity of donors enables the Jewish Federation’s critical work — caring for vulnerable people, inspiring Jewish life and learning, and building Jewish community for this generation and future generations.

“I am so grateful for the generosity shown by so many who have joined us to support the 2020 Annual Campaign, especially during this time filled with uncertainty,” Campaign Chair Sherrie Savett said. “Our [Jewish] Federation is the central resource which supports and evaluates the needs of our Jewish community, and such philanthropy is essential to our work now and for the future.”


Money raised through the 2020 Annual Campaign supports the Jewish Community Fund, organizations throughout the Greater Philadelphia community and Israel, and the Emergency Fund — the Jewish Federation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jewish Community Fund is the core focus of the Annual Campaign, and the Jewish Federation’s main resource to address the most urgent needs and priorities within the community.

Applications for the new three-year grant cycle of the Jewish Community Fund opened in September with letters of intent due by Oct. 30. Grants will be awarded in the spring for programs that align with the following funding priorities: serving vulnerable populations, shaping the Jewish future and connecting with Israel.

In a time of unprecedented need, the COVID Emergency Fund generated $2.6 million from 909 households. The fund continues to support relief efforts by allowing the Jewish Federation to distribute significant grants that extend the food supply, fund mental and physical health needs, and enable the distribution of 65,000 protective face masks to a wide range of members of the Jewish community.

The Jewish Federation also provided discretionary funds to congregational rabbis at 90 different synagogues and Chabads across Philadelphia, helping them aid congregants who have been drastically impacted by COVID-19. Finally, the Emergency Response Committee created a Jewish Day School Fund that will provide $500,000 to help schools open safely and create a healthy learning environment for children.

“Our COVID-19 relief efforts have helped more than 280,000 people throughout our community and in Israel,” said Holly Nelson, Chair of the Emergency Response Committee. “I am incredibly grateful to each of our generous donors for their participation in this effort.”

While past campaign years matched the calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31), the Jewish Federation’s 2021 Annual Campaign year and all those moving forward will coincide with their fiscal year calendar (Sept. 1 – Aug. 31). Aligning the fiscal and campaign years will help them better communicate with donors, report dollars raised in a more consistent way and be more fluid as they plan allocations each year.

“David [Adelman] and I look forward to building on this year’s success and realizing even greater resources so we can continue to create a vibrant Jewish community for the future,” Jewish Federation Board Co-Chair Gail Norry said.

The Jewish Federation is a leading safety net funder of Jewish services in the Greater Philadelphia area, and among the top funders of Greater Philadelphia philanthropic organizations.

In addition to the $14.7 million raised through Annual Campaign contributions, philanthropic revenue during the 2020 fiscal year included $5.7 million in new endowment funds. The Foundation for Jewish Day Schools (a separate legal entity managed by the Jewish Federation) received $11.5 million for day school scholarships.

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