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Women Learn, Give and Make a Difference

March 1, 2012 By:
Lynn B. Edelman, Jewish Federation Feature
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March and April are two exciting months on the Women's Philanthropy calendar. Over the course of the next eight weeks, women of diverse ages, lifestyles and income levels will have the opportunity to learn how to overcome information overload to get the news they need, perform hands-on mitzvah projects at the Klein JCC and enjoy a gala evening of laughter and fellowship while making a difference in the lives of others.

"The March 7 speakers series program, the March 13 hands-on mitzvah day at the Klein JCC and the April 17 Live It Up Gala are just a sampling of the unique programs and activities that this affinity of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia offers to help women connect to the Jewish community and to one another," says Women's Philanthropy director Marni Davis. Davis adds that all Women's Philanthropy programming articulates the group's mission -- "to strengthen Jewish identity at home, abroad and to respond wherever needs are most pressing."

Renee Sackey, co-chair of the Women's Philanthropy Speakers' Series, along with Shira Goodman, expresses confidence that women attending the March 7 presentation by entrepreneur, speaker and author Gina F. Rubel will be "enlightened and inspired." The lunchtime program on "Information Overload: How to Cut Through the News and Get What You Need" will be presented at Max and David's restaurant, 8120 Old York Rd., in Elkins Park, beginning at 11:30 a.m. "Her presentation is so timely, given the barrage of sound bites we all receive in this 24/7 news cycle. Whether it's politics, celebrities, international conflicts -- Gina will address how we can separate the wheat from the chaff," says Sackey, who adds that "I know women will come away with a better understanding of what's important and what's not."

Sackey defines the series as "a wonderful outreach opportunity for Women's Philanthropy -- a way to introduce Jewish women in our community to the wide range of educational and social programs that enhance our lives."

Robin Batoff, the Women's Philanthropy vice president, anticipates a strong turnout for the March 13 hands-on social action program at the Klein JCC. "Participants will have an important opportunity to see the tremendous needs in our community as they serve lunch to older adults, assist in the Mitzvah Food Pantry, put together meals for homebound seniors and package food bags," says Batoff, who is coordinating this mitzvah opportunity along with Joanna Goldstein.

Batoff expresses confidence that the experience will result in enhanced contributions to the Federation campaign. "The more educated women are about the critical needs in our community, the more they understand the importance of addressing these needs through their personal campaign commitments," she explains.

Batoff, who notes that Women's Philanthropy raises more than $5 million annually to help Federation meet its goals and priorities, asserts that the success is a testament to the power of building relationships among women who believe in a common cause. She explains that "Women's Philanthropy members form deep friendships based on their compassion and their passion for making this world a better place."

Davis, the Women's Philanthropy director, predicts the "Live It Up" gala, scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel on City Avenue in Philadelphia, will be one of the affinity group's most successful fundraisers. "It is an opportunity for women to laugh, nosh, perform a mitzvah and make a difference in the lives of others -- all in one evening," she says, adding, "We have not hosted a gala in two years and we expect some 400 women to come together for this celebration."

Jewish comedienne Cory Kahaney, a finalist in the first season of NBC's "Last Comic Standing," is the special guest for this evening program. Kahaney has performed on numerous television shows including The Late Show with David Letterman, The Bonnie Hunt Show, The Joy Behar Show and The Late Late Show With Craig Feruguson. She was voted best comedian in New York City by Backstage magazine and best female comedian by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets.

Guests at the Gala, which is open to all women who make a minimum donation of $180 to the Federation, will have a chance to support Women's Philanthropy's three designated giving projects: One Happy Camper -- a program that provides incentive grants to attend Jewish overnight camps, which are powerful building blocks for Jewish identity and leadership; The Mitzvah Food Project's Choice Pantry -- an initiative that will transform the food pantry at the Klein JCC into a "mini-supermarket" where clients have the freedom to choose what products they would like; and a therapeutic overnight camp program for children served by Orr Shalom, a network of family group homes for Israeli orphans and others who cannot live with their biological families.

Gala co-chairs Tamar Astorino, Melissa Glozman and Gail Mosler Singer ask all Gala guests to bring a new, unopened personal care item to be donated to the Mitzvah Food Project.

Davis emphasizes that these spring events are a small sampling of the full calendar of educational, social and fundraising programming that Women's Philanthropy offers women in the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community. Women's Philanthropy was a strong presence at the recent Federation Super Sunday and will participate in Mitzvah Mania on Sunday, Oct. 27. Every two years there are women's missions to Israel to educate, inspire and empower women as philanthropists, advocates and leaders.

Davis emphasizes that all Jewish women are welcome and valued. Young mothers staying home to raise families, professionals juggling hectic career and personal lives, single adults, divorcees, widows and senior citizens will all find peers at Women's Philanthropy programs and events. "We are an inclusive collective of informed, inspired and motivated women committed to making a difference through our philanthropy and acts of tikkun olam locally, in Israel and around the world," says Davis.

For more information about these and other Women's Philanthropy events, programs and initiatives, call Marni Davis at 215-832-0859 or email: [email protected]. Register online at: www.jewishphilly.org.

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