Ira Schwartz left his position as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia last week after seven years at the helm of the community’s central fundraising body.
Sherri Savett, the president of Federation, said a search committee is being formed to find Schwartz’s successor. The Federation has named COO Alex Stroker as interim head until a new person is in place.
“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Ira for his seven years at the helm of the Federation,” Savett said in a news release  issued last Friday. “We are grateful for his dedicated service and I wish Ira and his family nothing but the best.”
For his part, Schwartz said he was “extremely proud of the many things we have achieved together over these last seven years.”
He added: “It has been an honor and privilege to lead Philadelphia’s Federation and I am thankful for having had the opportunity.”
Rumors of Schwartz’s departure had been swirling around the community for weeks. The Federation staff was officially notified on Monday, though his last day in the office was May 3. No explanation for his departure was given.
Schwartz’s last official event was to host a reception at the Community Services Building for a visiting group from Israel’s National Defense College on May 2.
There he emphasized Federation’s commitment to Israel and to Jewish identity-building programs. Those were among the achievements Schwartz and Savett touted since Schwartz’s arrival in 2006.
Prior to coming to Federation, Schwartz, 68, served as provost of Temple University and was involved in Jewish communal activities. He was tasked with restructuring and streamlining Federation’s operations.
Under his tenure, the Federation raised $13.5 million for an emergency campaign for Israel in response to its war in Lebanon and more than $2 million to launch a new food initiative in Northeast Philadelphia to help alleviate hunger issues.
He oversaw the 2007 Federation purchase of a new campus in Bryn Mawr, later named the Schwartz campus as a result of a gift by Robert Schwartz (no relation). The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy relocated to that site.
He also was involved in the controversial decision to merge Barrack’s middle school with the Perelman Jewish Day School’s Saligman Middle School, which is slated to take effect in the fall.
In a brief interview, Savett said, “The Federation is strong and stable and, looking forward, we will continue with our crucial mission.”