When he attended the Elton John concert here in Philadelphia on July 4, Dan Bacine said he "was very moved" by the entertainer's statement about continuing his campaign against AIDS until the disease was eradicated, whether it was during his lifetime or accomplished by his foundation, which would continue his work after he was gone.
"Most people don't have the means to make a statement in the same way about the causes they care about," said the partner in the law firm of Barrack, Rodos and Bacine, and a longtime local fundraising volunteer. "But wouldn't it be nice if, together, our gifts could eliminate poverty for area Jews, people without enough food in their cupboards?"
Bacine said he feels strongly that one of the best ways to make that happen is for people to experience the needs – and not just hear about them. Thus, he recommends going on a local Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia mission to see one of its Mitzvah Food Pantry sites or to a senior center, where programs for the elderly are helped by Federation dollars.
His first exposure to local needs was as training for Federation's 1980 Zachor Mission, geared for young leaders, to show them up close, here and in Israel, how the dollars that are raised by Federation make a difference in so many lives.
As for the trip to Israel, his first, Bacine said that it was "an emotional experience" from start to finish.
He said the group learned from a variety of political views, enabling them to return to Philadelphia as "ambassadors" to explain what was happening in the Jewish state and answering the all-important question: "Where does the money go?"
Bacine credits Len Barrack, his friend and law partner since 1976, for encouraging him to go on Zachor.
"It jump-started me," said the Villanova Law School graduate. "Len was, and is, my mentor. He has the ability to enhance the best in other people, and he sets an example by being a doer, not a talker."
'Every Gift Makes an Impact'
However, long before his formal involvement in the community, there was the influence of the young woman he met when he was a senior at Temple University – the woman he eventually married.
"Marcy was so attuned to her Jewishness," said Bacine, who grew up in what he described as a secular, cultural environment in the mostly Jewish neighborhood of West Oak Lane.
"We decided to keep a kosher home," he said, "and saw ourselves as having a Jewish family," which came to include their sons, Matthew, 30, and Gabriel, 28.
Moreover, he added, "my wife instilled in me the value of helping others."
And that's what Bacine has done in the community over the years in various leadership roles for the Lawyer's Division, as a member of Brith Shalom, and as past president of the Germantown Jewish Centre. A member of Federation's Board of Trustees, he works on its annual campaign at the Leadership Philanthropy level, and has also served on the board of the Center for Social Responsibility.
Bacine has co-chaired Federation Allied Jewish Appeal Day at Meadowlands Country Club in Blue Bell for the past four years.
He said that he is particularly proud of the club's 13 percent increase this year in funds for Federation's annual campaign, as well as its special project of purchasing two ambucycles that can be used for quick medical response to crises in Israel.
Throughout his fundraising career, Bacine said that he has never asked for a gift without making a decision about his own gift. "Do I wish I could do more?" he asked. "Of course. Still, my gift, and every gift, makes an impact on the Jewish community and, hopefully, makes a statement that will encourage others to give."