The number of country clubs hosting daylong events to benefit the local Federation have dwindled to just two, but organizers still have high hopes for the upcoming philanthropy.
As an 11-year-old, Lisa Goldenberg remembers her first experience with the Jewish Federation.
“I was invited with my grandmother to Radnor Valley’s Women’s Federation,” Goldenberg recalled, referring to an event that raised money for the precursor to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “I was allowed to miss school for the luncheon.
“I sat at the table with my grandmother and my mother and their friends to hear a Holocaust survivor speak, because it was important to them that I see what women do.”
It clearly had an impact. Next week, Goldenberg, who is involved in many charitable causes, will be chairing the annual Federation Day at Meadowlands Country Club in Blue Bell.
“Federation Day is a ‘be counted day,’ ” she said of the annual fundraising event, which will be held on June 3.
“You’re making a statement to your peers, ‘I wanted to be counted,’ ” said Goldenberg, who served on Federation’s board of trustees and has co-chaired the Meadowlands event for at least five years.
The next day, Green Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill will hold its own Federation Day event.
Stanton Moss, the 81-year-old former club president, who used to pal around with a 6-foot-7-inch freshman named Wilt Chamberlain when he was a senior at Overbrook High, heads their effort. His 43-year-old son, Stephen, a former member of the Jewish Federation’s board of trustees, will be there to assist, along with his 29-year-old grandson, Jason Needles.
“It’s an institution, something we look forward to,” Stanton Moss said of the Federation Day event.
“It’s a lot of work, but we feel it’s a duty, an obligation we have. We’re proud of it,” he added, also pointing with pride to his family’s three living generations of members, which he believes is unprecedented.
Green Valley and Meadowlands are the last two clubs to continue to raise funds for the Jewish Federation.
For years, seven area clubs with strong Jewish identities participated in Federation Day — often on the same day. They were daylong events that included golf and tennis and culminated in an evening event with a guest speaker. They brought out 150 to 200 members per club and raised as much as $10 million.
Now with declining interest in country clubs in general, two of the once predominantly Jewish clubs — Ashbourne and Rydal — have shut their doors entirely. The others — Philmont, Radnor Valley and White Manor — have distanced themselves from their Jewish focus, including ending their Federation fundraising events.
“When we used to have Federation Day at the country clubs, it was the best,’’ said Jay Steinberg, a senior development officer at Federation. “There was such feeling in the room, because we were a partnership.
“We miss the others,” he said. “The peer pressure that existed before to contribute to Federation doesn’t exist anymore’’ at the country clubs.
For her part, Goldenberg believes it still should. “It’s a sign of commitment I care for Jews in need,’’ said the woman who runs her own company, Delaware Steel Co., in Fort Washington, when she’s not actively involved with Federation and other charitable endeavors. “I care for someone I may or may not know.
“I play golf all the time, but when I tee off next week, I’m saying I want to be counted and help someone besides myself.’’
Without setting any specific dollar goals this time around, Goldenberg, the Mosses and Federation officials say they are hoping for a big turnout at the country club events next week.
“Whether it’s men or women, we want everyone making a gift in their own name,’’ said Goldenberg, 51, who met her husband, Michael, at a Federation event 29 years ago.
“This is one of the more prestigious philanthropies in the city of Philadelphia. We have a good reputation and do a lot for the broader community,” she said, noting that among other things, Federation funds help respond to crises around the world.
“We’re first responders to Nepal, to Haiti. Hopefully people will come out because they believe in the organization and see that we do good work.
“This is a happening.’’