S. Robert Landow is a hands-on, passionate Jewish communal leader, but this wasn't always the case. "My initial involvement with Federation was to simply write an annual check as a symbolic gesture of giving back to the Jewish community," he said. But a conversation with Jeffrey Barrack after a Federation breakfast featuring noted attorney Steven Cozen influenced him to change his philanthropic style.
"Before I had even had my first cup of coffee, Jeff approached me, told me that my gift was generous and appreciated and then challenged me to become personally involved in Jewish Federation," he recalled.
Barrack, the president of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and the immediate past chair of Federation's Men's Young Leadership Cabinet, invited Landow to join Regional Men's Cabinet, a three-year program for emerging Jewish leaders. He has enjoyed his monthly meetings with seasoned communal leaders, Shabbat dinners and study sessions.
One invitation led to another, and Landow soon became a member of Federation's National Young Leadership Group. He describes the group as a "perfect fit" for his values and interests. "The annual retreats are a great place for me to benchmark, to exchange ideas, and to just listen to other like-minded Jewish leaders throughout the country," he commented.
Barrack noted that Lan- dow has already demonstrated strengths as both a "motivator and a connector," crediting him with motivating fellow members of Cabinet to participate in Torah study sessions with Rabbi Michael Uram at Penn Hillel along with members of Federation's Men's Roundtable. "I am delighted that Bob has agreed to take on the critical role of Cabinet vice chair next year and know that the group will accomplish great things under his leadership."
Andrew Cherry, current chair of Federation's Men's Cabinet, is equally enthusiastic. "Bob is a great example of someone who has an unwavering passion for the Jewish community and community service in general," he said, citing his commitment to Project HIP (Help In Play), which entailed the construction of a new playground at the Klein JCC, as a prime example of "Bob's leadership and his zest for performing mitzvot for those in our community who are less fortunate than us." Barrack added that Landow was instrumental in helping to raise the $40,000 necessary to construct the playground and in engaging young, unaffiliated Jews to "get their hands dirty."
Landow embraced this project as "the ideal opportunity to introduce our three daughters, Blake, Brynn and Charly, to the Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam — values important to both me and my wife, Arlyn." He described the experience as a "wonderful family affair. My kids participated in the demolition of the old equipment, in fundraising/service learning, and in the assembly of this brand new playground."
He expressed confidence that the construction project taught his daughters valuable life lessons. "Through their hands-on involvement, they developed a sense of appreciation for what they have, identified as members of the Jewish community, and gained both self-esteem and a sense of pride in their Jewish heritage," he said.
These are the very same values that fuel Landow's philanthropy. Now 41, he founded Main Line Adjustment, his first public insurance adjustment company, when he was just 23. Under Landow's leadership, MLA averaged an impressive annual top line growth rate of 50 percent for more than a decade.
In 2007, he merged his firm with Claims International to form MLA Claims, LLC, one of the nation's leading public insurance adjustment firms. Since its inception, Landow has served as MLA Claims managing member. MLA Claims specializes in resolving large residential and complex commercial property losses stemming from catastrophic events such as fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods across the country, throughout the Virgin Islands, Mexico and in Puerto Rico.
"As my business and family grew, I took a moment to reflect how I ended up in such a fortunate place. It became clear to me that I was the beneficiary of goodwill and opportunities made possible by other members of the Jewish community."
Landow strives to share his good fortune with others. When Hurricane Irene passed through the Greater Philadelphia area last summer, one of the local Jewish Community Centers sustained wind and flood damage. MLA Claims assisted the community center with its insurance recovery on a pro bono basis.
While engaged in fundraising for Project HIP, Landow asked several of his firm's clients to donate to the playground renovation in lieu of paying MLA Claims its normal commission.
In April, the firm signed on as platinum sponsor of a major breakfast program hosted by Jewish Federation Real Estate. The event raised significant funds for JRAid, a program that directly connects volunteers with opportunities to help families in need. JFRE is a principal partner of this initiative, which was created last year as a project of the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA) to provide services to the community far beyond its monthly food distribution program.
Landow stated his enthusiasm for JFRE's involvement in providing home improvements and modifications to the homes of senior citizens, enabling them to live safely and comfortably in their own community.
He strives to infuse the workplace with Torah values, imploring his employees to have compassion for those clients who have sustained catastrophic damage to their homes and/or businesses.
"I truly believe that, at the end of the day, our job is to assist in repairing our world, one home or business at a time," he affirmed.