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Her Choice: To Speak on Behalf of Her People

March 30, 2006 By:
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When Francine Lipstein was a child, her mother talked to her about how she survived the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Sally Chase also told her daughter that every life had a purpose.

"It was a message I took seriously," said Lipstein.

"When I was 8 years old, I went to Israel on a family trip to see relatives," she said. "Early on, I felt connected to Israel and the Jewish people. When I saw what was going on with the Yom Kippur War on TV, I gave part of my Bat Mitzvah money to help Israel."

Now a local Jewish community leader, Lipstein serves on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and its Women's Philanthropy, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Family and Children's Service, the American Jewish Committee and the American Israel Political Action Committee.

"I give my support and time to these organizations because I have a passion for Israel, for helping Jews at risk and for encouraging Jewish life in the Philadelphia area," she said.

In January, Lipstein was part of Federation's six-member contingent from its Center for Israel and Overseas who attended the Herzliya Conference in Israel, the only group representing a federation.

"The conference offers the opportunity to listen to a combination of top think-tank, military and political leaders from around the world discuss Israel's national security, its future and the future of the Jewish people," she reported. "This was an opportunity to grow, learn and become a better leader. It reinforced my belief that every voice is important. Israel needs our advocacy, and we must share what we learned throughout our community and in Washington."

Speaking at the conference, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's somber predictions for American Jewry affected Lipstein: "He said that unless American Jewry showed more concern and gave more support to Israel, there will be no help (from the U.S. government) by 2025.

"Intermarriage and assimilation are affecting the Jewish community more and more," she continued. "As a result, there are fewer and fewer Jews with affinity for Israel's issues. So many don't see or understand the threat to American Jewry and Israel.

"As a member of AIPAC, I often travel to D.C. to lobby. I've seen how it is possible to affect change by speaking to lawmakers. Working to see that government programs such as Medicaid are extended helps the Jewish poor. Letting our senators and representatives know that we support Israel encourages them to do the same."

Lipstein earned an undergraduate degree in marketing and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She recently went back into business as an executive recruiter.

She and husband Bob are parents of Zachary, 7, and Rebecca, 9. The children attend the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School in Wynnewood. "Toward the end of the week, they always ask: 'Who's coming for Shabbat dinner?' It's an important time for our family, and we always have guests."

In addition to her family and organizations, Lipstein keeps busy with piano lessons and Torah classes.

How does she find the time?

"I have all day," she answered. "And each day, we have the opportunity to do mitzvot and truly take part in tikkun olam - 'repairing the world.'

"I believe it all goes back to what my mother taught me about having a purpose. Life is about the choices we make. My choice is to speak on behalf of the Jewish people."

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