Each year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia gives out three young leadership awards: the Blanche Wolfe Kohn Award, the Myer and Rosaline Feinstein Award and the Jack Goldenberg Award.
With those honors, the Jewish Federation identifies younger Jews in the community who may shape the future of Jewish Philadelphia. And this year, for the first time since 1996, all three winners are women.
Carly Zimmerman, a 34-year-old Center City resident, earned the Blanche Wolfe Kohn award. Sarah Vogel, a 45-year-old member of Temple Sinai in Dresher, received the Myer and Rosaline Feinstein honor. And Julie Perilstein Mozes, a 36-year-old Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel member in Philadelphia, got the Jack Goldenberg award.
“All three are young women who have families and careers,” said Gail Norry, the co-chair of the Jewish Federation’s board, who was one of those 1996 honorees. “It’s really impressive that you also take a serious leadership role and make a large philanthropic contribution.”
The women discussed their journeys to service, as well as the future of Jewish life in the Philadelphia area.
Zimmerman, an executive in her family’s company, Larson Lightning Protection, grew up in Harrisburg in an interfaith household. She celebrated holidays with her grandparents and had a bat mitzvah. But after that, she grew apart from Judaism.
At her freshman orientation at the University of Pittsburgh, though, she connected with a woman who worked for Hillel and got involved, planning retreats and food-packing events, among other activities.
After college, she spent six years as CEO of Challah for Hunger, where she worked to “decrease food insecurity on college campuses,” according to a Jewish Federation news release. Today, she is the chair of Women of Vision, a Jewish Federation arm that gives grants to nonprofits that help women and girls.
Zimmerman does this work for her 6-year-old daughter Norah.
“If I can leave the world better for her, that will make it all worth it,” she said.
Vogel, a speech language pathologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it’s in her DNA to serve the Jewish community.
Her grandparents and parents both gave to the Jewish Federation. But it was not until Vogel’s sister invited her to the Jewish Federation’s women’s leadership development program that she got involved.
Over those six sessions, she learned the organization’s detailed process for allocating millions of dollars to worthy causes.
Vogel then joined the Women’s Philanthropy Board and hosted a speaker series designed to get people involved with the Jewish Federation. More recently, she gave the pitch for Lion of Judah, the event that encourages female donors to reach the $5,000 milestone.
She is now the vice chair of Women’s Philanthropy, which raises money for programs at places like the Mitzvah Food Pantry and the KleinLife community center.
“My hope would be that the organizations keep evolving and that there’s a lot more flexibility and options for people to stay connected to the Jewish community even if it’s different from the traditional Conservative, Reform, Orthodox options,” she said.
Julie Perilstein Mozes
Perilstein Mozes, who works for Penn Medicine on business development, said it was her grandmother, Cookie Perilstein, who inspired her to become active in the Jewish community. Perilstein donated her money, time and energy to the Mitzvah Food Pantry, Abramson Senior Care and Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, where she belonged.
“Wherever I would go, she was a beloved member of the community,” Perilstein Mozes said.
After working in New York City, the granddaughter moved back to Philly 10 years ago and got active in the Jewish Federation. After serving on its board of trustees, nominating committee and Women’s Philanthropy board, she is now involved in shaping the nonprofit’s strategic plan for the next three years. The Jewish Federation must understand the nature of the Jewish community today, according to Perilstein Mozes.
“I think there are people who are not from traditional backgrounds that want to raise Jewish families,” she said. JE