Page 1

FALL 2009

features Page 2 Letter from Carol Goldberg Economic Assistance Fund

Page 3

A Message from the President and Chief Executive Officer

Introducing Our 2010 Leadership

Page 4 - 5 Dear Friends, We have just concluded the Yamim Noraim – the Days of Awe – ten days filled with reflection and anticipation. As we encountered Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we had much on which to reflect as we concluded the most difficult Annual United Jewish Campaign in many years. This past year, we were affected by the devastation and power outages brought on by Hurricane Ike, challenged by the worst economy since the Great Depression, tested by the Bernard Madoff scandal which disproportionately impacted Jewish philanthropists and Jewish organizations, and experienced the transition to a new United States President and a new Prime Minister of Israel. And yet, even with dramatic change all around us, our Houston Jewish community remains steadfast in its commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people. Many have been impacted by the vagaries of the economy yet our Federation is responding to assist those in need. Many organizations and programs are being threatened by a decline in fundraising, yet some of our most loyal donors are seeing a way to increase their giving to support these programs.

I, for one, so deeply appreciate each and every individual and family that supports the Federation and places their trust in us. In a time of cynicism and financial scandal, I take that trust very seriously. However, in 2009, for the first time in many years, the Annual Campaign realized a significant loss. Because of that, allocations to recipient organizations were reduced by almost 16 percent. And, as the New Year begins, we are engaged in serious reflection and introspection about the future direction of the Federation. But we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that, even with this sharp decline in the United Jewish Campaign, we are still the largest, most robust annual appeal in the community. More importantly, the funds we raise support a wide variety of programs, locally, in Israel and in 60 countries around the world. You will find a quick review of those programs in the pages of this newsletter and will likely be impressed, as I always am, by the scope and magnitude of what we support. As we celebrate Simchat Torah and read again from B’reishit—“In the beginning...,” (Continued on page 10)

Annual Allocations

Page 6 - 9 The Year in Review

Page 11 Thank You to Our Partners

Page 12 Events Calendar

A Message from the 2010 United Jewish Campaign Chair Carol Goldberg This High Holiday season as we prepared for the New Year, we at the Federation stopped to reflect on the year gone by. Last year was extraordinarily difficult for many in our community. Enduring both Hurricane Ike in September and the economic downturn in the fall, a considerable portion of our Houston Jewish community experienced significant challenges. Understandably, yet unfortunately, these situations also adversely impacted the 2009 United Jewish Campaign, resulting in a 12 percent decline in campaign dollars. This reduction forced the Federation to cut back on staffing and programming. It also mandated an almost 16 percent reduction in allocations to the many agencies we support. Nonetheless, the Federation board and staff were grateful that despite the economic meltdown, our donors were as charitable as possible and our shortfall was smaller than that experienced by many other cities. Furthermore, it was gratifying to see how our beneficiary agencies were able to continue providing their services without missing a beat and to accommodate an ever-expanding number of people requiring assistance in our community. Now that we are welcoming the year 5770 as well as the 2010 Campaign, we are optimistic that Houston will continue to be the generous community we are so proud to live in and that we will have a vibrant Campaign. Indeed, it is encouraging to note that today’s leading economic reports have concluded that the economy has bottomed out and predict that economic conditions should start to improve. Nevertheless, the number of Jews in our community requiring assistance with life’s basic needs such as food, housing and employment remains significant, because in many cases these are the people who were most directly affected by the events of last year. Furthermore, we have found that when times are difficult, many people turn to the Federation and its beneficiary agencies for support. Therefore, donations from anyone in a position to help are vital. Also, there are many Jews in Israel and around the world who depend on our overseas allocations to meet their basic needs so that they may live in dignity. It is you, our philanthropic donors, who allow the Federation to maintain the allocations upon which our beneficiary agencies so greatly depend. To meet all of those needs and ensure a better life for Jews around the globe, it is one of our goals for the 2010 Campaign to bring in as many new donors as possible. We are hopeful that by reaching out to the Jewish households in Houston who do not currently contribute to the Campaign and explaining the role of the Federation and the myriad of services it helps fund, we can expand our donor base and increase the pool of dollars that we have to allocate. Within the group of prospective donors, we are especially eager to connect with the younger generation since they are the future of our Jewish community. And as always, we will seek to keep our deep ties to our loyal donor base. We look forward to seeing you at Federation events throughout the year and to speaking with you on a regular basis. It takes every one of us working together to keep our community strong. Many thanks to each of you for your generous support, which allows us to touch the lives of so many in need. Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year. Sincerely,



Making A Difference Today

Help Available for Families in Distress


To aid those who are suffering from the effects of the economic downturn, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston has established a $500,000 Economic Assistance Fund by taking money from the Federation’s own budget, various reductions in 2009 United Jewish Campaign allocations and the support of a few generous donors. The Federation has begun by working in partnership with Jewish Family Service, which is administering the money to individuals and families struggling to meet basic needs due to recent economic hardships, such as the loss of a job or foreclosure on a home. Money has been given to JFS for staffing needs to support the program. Establishing the fund is something Committee Chair Fran Friedman called, “a wonderful thing and a sad thing.” “I think it’s a reflection of the caring community that we have, so in a sense we can be proud of that,” Friedman said. “Simultaneously, it’s a painful thing to need a fund like this because people are suffering, and in many cases these are the people who have ordinarily been able to manage.” From January 1 to June 30, about 90 households turned to JFS seeking assistance with issues related to the economic crisis. Through the Economic Assistance Fund, the Federation has already and will continue to help support those who turn to JFS in their time of need. “Jewish Family Service exists to meet the basic needs of individuals and families in our community who are struggling to put food on the table. We are grateful to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston for recognizing our core strengths and turning to JFS to fight the impact of the current economic tsunami,” said JFS Executive Director Linda Burger. “Grants from the Economic Assistance Fund will help JFS move a family from crisis to stabilization, whether through direct financial aid or job assistance,” Burger said. “We hope that families will come to us for help before they fall into a deep abyss. That being said, we do require our clients to demonstrate a need for emergency assistance. They must also be willing to work toward reversing a downward spiral. Our goal is to bring light, hope and help to those who are in trouble and we welcome the calls.” In a letter to Burger, one family expressed their gratitude for assistance after the father of three, ages 10 months, 7 years and 10 years, was laid off from his job. “To not know how we would care for our children, keep our house out of foreclosure, even keep the electricity on…we both felt terrified. The JFS was a blessing we could never have imagined,” the client wrote. “It is with deep gratitude and humility I offer my sincerest thanks. We will be sending money to the JFS monthly once we get on our feet to pay back what was so generously given to us. It is our responsibility to do this, and something we want to do.” The Committee has determined that money will be allotted as temporary assistance to members of the greater Houston Jewish (Continued on page 10)

Introducing our

2010 Leadership

Carol Goldb erg

Title: 2009/2010 Federation Annual Campaign Chair Occupation: Practiced law for five years at Vinson & Elkins, and then for 1.5 years at a firm formerly known as Schlanger, Cook, Cohn, Mills & Grossberg, now Schlanger, Silver, Barg and Paine, LLP. Education: University of Texas, B.S., University of Texas School of Law, J.D. Community Involvement: Past President of Congregation Brith Shalom and Jewish Family Service. Past Vice President of the Federation. Current Vice President of the Emery/Weiner School, Chair of the JCC Jewish Book & Arts Fair, and member of the Advisory Board of the Alexander Institute. Family: Husband, Michael. Daughter Melissa and sons Matthew and Jonathan.

Goal for the Year: “My goal this year is to attract as many new donors to the Annual Campaign as possible. Since the state of the economy has so directly impacted philanthropic giving, it is essential that we expand our donor base in order for us to continue raising the vital funds on which “ our beneficiary agencies and overseas is expan essential t h d our partners critically depend. I look donor at we b a se...” forward to approaching new donors and engaging in conversations about the needs of our fellow Jews in Houston, Israel and around the world. My hope is that such conversations will encourage new donors to support the Federation in its mission to help sustain the lives of Jews in need.”

Sandra Finkelman Title: 2009/2010 Federation Women’s Philanthropy Chair

women of our “ see the up...” community step

Occupation: Retired Orthoptist (Eye Muscle Specialist). Co-owner of Haute Hospitality, a company that creates gourmet and welcome gift packages.

Education: University of Texas at Austin and Newbury College in Boston, degree in Ophthalmic Science. University of Texas Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, certification in Orthoptics. Wexner Program alumna, continuing Jewish education. Community Involvement: Current Regional Co-Chair of American Associates of Ben Gurion University, outgoing Chair of the Women’s Division Israel Bonds, officer of the Emery/Weiner School Parent Association.

Past President of Hadassah Annie Leff (life member), Beth Yeshurun Day Schools Parent Teacher Organization and Congregation Beth Yeshurun Sisterhood. Past Board member of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, the American Jewish Committee, Houston Hillel and Congregation Beth Yeshurun. Family: Husband, Steven. Sons, Jordan and Seth and daughter, Marissa. Goal for the Year: “To increase the involvement of Jewish women in our community and to educate women about what the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston does for our local agencies, and our recipients locally and abroad. During this time of economic strife, I would like to see the women of our community step up to make a larger commitment to helping others by contributing in their own name to the Annual United Jewish Campaign, which funds agencies that provide assistance to those who are currently facing tough times.”




No one

knows better what it means to...


This year, even as Houston suffered the impact of Hurricane Ike and the

economic crisis, the Jewish community stood together to contribute $20.4 million to Jewish causes here in Houston, across the country and around the world. Of that, nearly $8.3 million came from gifts to the 2009 United Jewish Campaign and $12.1 million were supplemental gifts. The Federation determines how Campaign dollars are allocated, while supplemental gifts are donor directed to specific causes. While these numbers are impressive given the challenges of this past year, the 2009 Campaign raised 12 percent less than the 2008 Campaign, requiring an almost 16 percent across-theboard cut in allocations to agencies, and reductions in the Federation budget and staffing. Of the $8.3 million Campaign, $331,065 has been set aside as a reserve for unpaid pledges.

The Federation also received additional income of:

• $5,000 in interest income

• $8,000 in grant awards for collaborative fundraising

• $230,504 from the reserve release

• $20,103 from a 2008 Campaign achievement adjustment

• $150,000 in savings from 2008 Campaign allocations

• $10,000 in business interruption insurance from Hurricane Ike

• $20,000 from the endowment fund for Jewish continuity programming

RED = Annual Campaign Allocations BLACK = Supplemental Gifts

Why do I donate to the Federation? The answer is simple: Why not? Why not donate to an organization that gives so much to our Jewish community, Israel and all over the world? Why not help support over 30 local organizations in our Greater Houston Jewish Community?

Julie Rubenstein Second grade teacher at Congregation Beth Yeshurun Day School YAD Executive Committee Member & Co-Chair of Cultural Outreach

P R O F I L E S 4


Making A Difference Today



e v i “L ously” r e n e G than the people of Houston.

(Continued on page 10)

“Every one of us is invested in this remarkable community in one way or the other. My grandparents came to Houston as immigrants with very few resources and were welcomed in and supported as they set down their roots and began to build a life for themselves and their children here. A generation later, my parents expressed their thanks by committing years of volunteer time to support and lead many of the Jewish institutions which make up the fabric of our community. Now, it is my turn and my time to do my part. The names and faces may have changed, but the needs persist and, in many ways, have never been greater.” Federation Board Vice Chair, Chair Disaster Relief Committee, Foundation Board member. Former Chair Supplemental Giving Committee and former member of the Planning & Allocations Committee, Nominating Committee and Allocations Process Redesign Committee.



Bobby Lapin Partner and Trial Attorney with Lapin & Landa, L.L.P.

P H I L A N T H R O P Y Making A Difference Today



2009 United Jewish Campaign Annual Super Sunday: Nearly 170 volunteers raised more than $360,000 by calling community members during the annual phone-a-thon held January 11-13. Cardozo & Maimonides Dinner: More than 465 lawyers and doctors joined together on March 30 for their first combined dinner event, which raised more than $126,000. Comedian Joel Chasnoff entertained the crowd. Membership in the Cardozo/Maimonides societies requires an annual gift of $1,000 to the Campaign or $500 for attorneys/doctors age 35 or younger. 7th Annual Men’s Night Out: The signature men’s event brought together more than 500 guests who raised more than $100,000. Sportswriter and NPR commentator John Feinstein told stories about his Lifetime in Sports. Annual Meeting: Awards presented on June 3 included: The Barbara and Harold Falik and Ben Susholtz Young Leadership Awards – Shira Yoshor and Ron Moses, respectively. The Hans Mayer Jewish Communal Professional Award – the Federation’s Director of Government Affairs & Community Relations Lisa Yoram. The Mae and Edmund Hecht Rabbinic Presentation – Rabbi Gidon Moskovitz of Meyerland Minyan. The Harold Reingold Yavneh Award for Jewish Educators – Lisa Stone of the Helfman Religious School of Congregation Emanu El. Lunch With A Local Legend: A lunch and learn series for young professionals has included speakers such as Non-Executive Chairman of Chase Bank of Texas Marc Shapiro, Chairman of the Board of Star Furniture Co. Melvyn L. Wolff and U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.

Women’s Philanthropy Lion of Judah/Pomegranate Reception: Lions and Pomegranates gathered to kick-off the 2009 Campaign year on October 29, 2008. The event raised more than $185,000 for the Campaign. Lori Klinghoffer, United Jewish Communities’ National Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Chair and member of the National Women’s Philanthropy Board, spoke at the event. 15th Annual Collage: More than 750 guests joined together and raised more than $360,000 at the signature women’s luncheon event. Author Iris Krasnow spoke about mother and daughter

“ n

C. Susman, partner, Susman Godfrey & 2009 Cardozo Event Chair who shared the honor with Maimonides Event Chair Dr. Jacob Varon

relationships. Pomegranate Appreciation Event: The Pomegranate Division honored its members with a thank you event on May 11. Donors and volunteers spoke about their commitment to the JCC’s Meals on Wheels program. Division membership requires an annual Campaign contribution of $1,800 or more. Heart-to-Heart: The Lion of Judah Society honored its members with the annual event on May 20. Actress Joan Wolfberg performed excerpts from her one-woman show, “Golda,” about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Society membership requires an annual Campaign contribution of $5,000 or more.

Young Adult Division (YAD) Marriage 101: YAD held an educational eightweek series in fall 2008, facilitated by Jewish Family Service professionals for five sessions, Financial Planner Larry Sklar for two sessions and Rabbi Brian Strauss concluded the class with one session. Topics included communication, in-law relationships, intimacy, financial planning and

how to incorporate Judaism into a household. The annual series will resume in November 2009. YAD Kick-Off Event: Houston was selected as one stop for Heeb Magazine’s “Heeb 100” traveling photo exhibit of 100 up-andcoming young Jews in the United States. More than 100 young adults, including Houston’s own honoree Jeff Kaplan, attended the event at Archway Gallery’s new space. Boker Tov @ benjy’s: This event is a monthly brunch and rabbi-led discussion at benjy’s in Rice Village. Rabbis featured this year include Rabbi Mark Miller of Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Robert Haas of Congregation Emanu El, Rabbi Brian Strauss of Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Rabbi Ranon Teller of Congregation Brith Shalom and Rabbi Moshe Davis of United Orthodox Synagogue. This year YAD held its first kosher Boker Tov at Suzy’s Grill. There are plans for two kosher Boker Tovs during the 2009/2010 season. Jewish Association for Communal Knowledge: JACK is a monthly lunch and learn program for young Jewish communal professionals created this year by Robert M. Beren Academy Development Coordinator Rachel Jacobson Gold and Federation staff. Each month

In every community there is work to be done; contributing to that work is one of our priorities. Through the Federation, we can be confident that our donations are being used to support Jewish education, the state of Israel, and to advocate on the community’s behalf—all causes that we strongly support. Debbie & Arturo Karakowsky Debbie is an attorney with Yetter, Warden, & Coleman, LLP and a member of the YAD Executive Committee. Arturo is a financial planning associate/financial advisor for MorganStanley SmithBarney, a member of the YAD Executive Committee and 2009 Co-Chair for the Business & Professional Networking Brunch. Debbie & Arturo traveled to Israel on the 2009 Community Mission’s YAD bus.

P R O F I L E S 6

“Every year our two societies make a significant contribution to the Annual Campaign and I’m pleased to say this year is no different. Though the needs in our community are greater due to the economic downturn, the lawyers and doctors are still here to support worthy causes.” – Harry

Making A Difference Today



year the BJE also added outreach to day school business managers and day school personnel for Grants/Federal Funding networks. Special Needs Services: The BJE has created new programs for special needs children with funding from the Alexander Institute. The Legacy of Learning program trained 12 teachers representing seven religious schools to serve as a resource and present workshops on special needs to their respective staffs and coworkers. The Yad B’Yad day school inclusion program for students with special needs integrated four students with special needs into middle and high school classes at the Robert M. Beren Academy. Project NOW, which will provide funding for a specialist to observe children in the Jewish Early Childhood programs, is a semi-finalist for a three year, $149,000 Covenant Grant. This grant has been submitted by the BJE and the Alexander Institute. Teacher Workshops & Incentive to Houston, the a different speaker focuses on topics relevant to Program: The participants have people working in a Jewish communal career. “What an inspiring day. I enjoyed BJE presented begun their first Participants come from many Jewish community meeting, talking to and seeing the 40 professional phase of follow-up many different faces that make up agencies and schools. – Rhoda our Jewish community.” development with programming B’nai Mitzvah: A Signature Event: On March Goldberg, 2009 Yom Limmud Chair workshops during including a three28, young adults gathered at the Heritage Society the 2008/2009 week course in to relive their bar/bat mitzvah days while they school year to more Jewish life cycles. boogied to DJs Lou & Ernie. YAD raised $210,207 than 700 attendees. Ben Gurion for the 2009 Campaign, which includes funds Of these, 32 teachers earned bonus stipends Society: Membership in this society requires an raised at the B’nai Mitzvah. for attending the BJE sponsored workshops annual gift to the Campaign of at least $1,000. 2nd Annual Business & Professional representing nine religious schools. Events are held throughout the year for society Networking 15th Annual Yom Limmud: On February members. The Brunch: On 15, more than 1,000 people from across the January event “This type of programming is a April 26, young wonderful way to encourage community gathered at Congregation Beth featured two professionals young adults to become active Yeshurun for the annual day of learning. The speakers, one who enjoyed an participants in the Jewish event featured more than 70 classes, a musical discussed her time community and it benefits their interactive career development.” – YAD Business concert by Noam Katz, A Morning of Fun for in the Federation’s presentation by & Professional Brunch Co-Chair David Families, and talks from scholars including Doug sister community Marketing and Meckley, who chaired the event with Barden, Chana Juravel, Rabbi Andrea Weiss and Petach Tikvah, Israel, Debra Kass Dluhy and Arturo Karakowsky. Communications Rabbi Ernesto Yattah. and the other who Consultant Gail The Gift of Israel Savings Incentive Program: described how Hyman on “Taking Closes out its year with 60 new enrollees, bringing the JFS Alexander Institute has impacted her the Work Out of Networking” and participated in the total number of participants to more than 350 family’s life. break-out discussions led by community leaders students. In addition, 15 teens utilized their Gift of who are seasoned professionals in a variety of Israel funds to participate in an Israel experience of Bureau of Jewish Education fields. Facilitators led discussions on how to their choosing. School Networks: BJE staff members meet develop an elevator pitch and an exit strategy. Scholarships and Grants: There were 51 regularly with congregational school principals, Taglit-Birthright Israel Trip: Twenty Houston children who received Jewish summer camp day school heads of schools, day school young adults got their first taste of Israel on the scholarships, totaling $22,000. These campers admissions directors, day school lay chairs and Houston Community Birthright trip from June attended a variety of different Jewish content presidents, early childhood directors, the Houston 1-11. Trip highlights included hiking in the Golan summer camps, including Greene Family Camp, Jewish Day School Consortium and the Houston Heights, climbing Masada, floating in the Dead Camp Young Judaea, Camp Morasha and Camp Chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries. This Sea and visiting the Western Wall. Since returning (Continued on page 8)

“Through actual participation I have seen how carefully and thoughtfully the Federation makes effective use of community funds in addressing Jewish needs. Allocations are done by committees of community donors, many with direct knowledge of the beneficiaries.” Terry Gardner visiting the Federation’s Sister City, Yoseftal, Israel.

Terry N. Gardner Retired Petroleum Engineer Member of the Federation’s Budget & Finance Committee and former member of the Federation’s Planning and Allocations Committee.



P H I L A N T H R O P Y Making A Difference Today



(Continued from page 7)

Gan Israel. Seventeen scholarships were given to high school students to spearheaded a Department of Homeland Security grant project on behalf of attend summer, semester or yearlong Israel programs totaling $12,000. In local Jewish organizations. In 2009, $780,250 was awarded to local Jewish addition, $2,425 was awarded to eight teachers to attend Jewish educational agencies as a result of the CRC’s efforts. Since 2005, the Federation and its conferences. community partners have received more than $2.7 million to strengthen PJ Library: More than 1,000 children are enrolled in the PJ Library program, security as a direct result of the initiative. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the which provides high-quality children’s books or CDs each month for children CRC wrote a grant to the Texas Disaster Relief Fund, which resulted in $87,566 6 months to 6 years old. A monthly e-mail newsletter is sent to all families, for rescues, housing and direct aid to victims. The assistance was awarded which includes all Jewish family programming at Jewish early childhood to Jewish Family Service, Seven Acres and Camp Young Judea. This summer, centers. Programming for PJ Library families when the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship was is ongoing throughout the year. at risk of being canceled, the CRC wrote a grant “It is critical that we continue to keep our lawmakers informed. Community Outreach: The B’Yachad seeking financial assistance. An anonymous fund Success in the areas of concern Family Newsletter was distributed four times through the Houston Jewish Community Foundation that we are lobbying for translates during the 2008/2009 school year to more offered a matching gift of $33,000. As a result, 10 to hundreds of thousands of dollars for our local constituent than 1,000 students in early childhood outstanding inner-city students had a life-changing agencies and is vital to our programs, day schools and religious schools. experience in Israel. community.“- CRC Domestic Affairs More than 250 teachers have used the Solidarity Service for Israel: On January 7, as Chair Rob Shoss with Sen. Joan Huffman during the CRC’s Day in Austin Education Resource Center for laminating, the Israeli Defense Force battled Hamas terrorists in die cut machine, and borrowing books, Gaza, the Federation through the CRC convened videos, DVDs and hands-on educational materials. a wide breadth of community organizations to produce a solidarity service Visions for the Future: Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) with less than 48 hours to prepare. Thousands of supporters, numerous and the Houston BJE will partner to create the Strategic Board Governance government officials as well as several media outlets turned out to Stand with Pilot Program geared toward driving strategic governance in Houston’s Jewish Israel. Day Schools. The curriculum will be based upon the results of the PEJE Board Day in Austin: On February 3, more than 75 activists traveled to the Capitol Excellence Measurement Tool, with input from the day schools’ board leaders to lobby for issues of importance to Houston’s Jewish community. Twentyand heads of schools. The series will be developed by a PEJE professional five legislators joined the group for lunch and then made time to meet with and curriculum design consultant in cooperation with the Houston BJE. The small delegations in their offices. Featured speakers included Texas Agriculture follow-up coaching will be designed in partnership with each individual school. Commissioner Todd Staples, Homeland Security Director Steven McCraw, Houston has been selected by PEJE as a pilot community. Senators Eliot Shapleigh and Florence Shapiro, as well as Representatives John Davis and Sylvester Turner. Senator Joan Huffman also welcomed the group. Community Relations Committee 81st Texas Legislature: The CRC advocated on the following issues with the Legislative Outreach: The CRC’s ongoing relationships with local, state and noted results: federal elected officials are vital. This is especially true when disaster strikes. • A continuum of care, including reformed state schools for the profoundly During Hurricane Ike, the committee advocated for community agencies, disabled, was achieved, although this issue will require monitoring and synagogues and frail individuals left for weeks without electricity. When continued advocacy. The schools are now called State Supported Living Centers residents at Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers had to be evacuated, the CRC and will remain open with better oversight. interfaced with FEMA, Houston Mayor Bill White’s Public Safety office and • Texans Feeding Texans is a project to infuse additional monies for programs Federation Board Member Etan Mirwis to find safe, affordable, alternative like Meals on Wheels. With Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples’ and the housing. The CRC also organized an insurance seminar with expert litigator legislature’s support, $20 million has been allocated over the next biennium for Ethan Gross and FEMA to teach victims their rights as they struggle to rebuild this essential program. their lives. • The battle over Texas ranking 49th in Medicaid Reimbursement continues. Grant Writing: This means of generating additional funding has become During the session, the CRC worked with a coalition to protect the existing a significant responsibility. For the fourth time in recent years, the CRC has funding and increase the rates to reflect the actual cost of care for medically


More than 170 Houstonians ranging in age from mid 20’s to early 80’s and representing a broad cross section of the Houston Jewish community traveled to Israel on the Federation’s Community Mission. The group trekked across the country visiting sites including Masada, the Western Wall, Sderot on the Gaza border, the Golan Heights, wineries and a number of organizations funded by the Federation’s Annual United Jewish Campaign. The trip’s success was reflected with more than $1 million in contributions to the 2009 Campaign from Mission participants. Campaign funding for programs in Israel that Mission participants learned about included The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Youth Futures



Making A Difference Today

frail seniors. The result was a modest 3 percent increase in 2010 and a 1.5 percent increase in 2011, underscoring the tremendous amount of work that remains. • The CRC successfully worked to preserve the Staffing Enhancement Program, which translates into several hundred thousand dollars for Seven Acres to help pay for direct patient care. • The CRC also worked to improve funding for Community Based Mental Health achieving a $55 million increase over the biennium, which will help JFS clients. • For several years the CRC has worked closely with Representative Sylvester Turner and other community stakeholders on utility assistance for low income seniors and the disabled. The efforts have centered on the complete restoration of the System Benefit Fund and a reduction of electricity cutoffs during extreme weather. Modest victories were made, including an allocation of $252 million over the next two years to the System Benefit Fund. However, the maximum discount has dropped from 20 to 17 percent and $672 million remains in the fund. Although the fee continues to be collected, only a portion of the funding is available for the purpose it was intended. • The CRC was asked by Holocaust Museum Houston to assist in its efforts to establish the Texas Commission on Holocaust and Genocide Education. This collaborative project resulted in the creation of the commission to support educators and teach the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations. Legislative Mission Reunion: Guests of honor from the CRC’s 2007 Legislative Mission to Israel gathered in Austin on February 3 to share memories and reconnect. The group of government officials included: Senators Eddie Lucio Jr., Florence Shapiro and Tommy Williams; Representatives Anna Hernandez and Chuck Hopson; and Cheryl Murray from Houston Mayor Bill White’s Public Safety office. Community Briefings: This year, the CRC sponsored several briefings with notable speakers including “As we marched around the Gadna, world renowned the sense of accomplishment, pride and political analyst Dr. determination filled us. This was my favorite experience. I learned about the Reuven Hazan; Israeli difficulties in the life of a soldier. I am war hero General so blessed and appreciative that I was Avigdor Kahalani, picked amongst other young leaders to go to Israel on this internship.”- Mickey which was a joint Leland Intern Mai Ling Matthews, Student board meeting Body President of Lamar High School with the ADL and AIPAC; an intimate briefing with Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai Meridor, which was co-hosted with the United Jewish Campaign; and a pre-election Political Forum co-sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel featuring Harris County Democratic Party Chair Gerry Birnberg and Republican television personality Gary Polland. Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship: For the 29th year, the CRC has continued to administer this program that sends 10 remarkable high school students to Israel who are selected based on their leadership potential. This year’s interns traveled to Israel from July 7 through August 5.

Program, which empowers and enriches the lives of children from Israel’s periphery educationally, culturally and socially in order to ensure a successful future. Mission participants also toured the Leo Baeck Education Center, one of Israel’s premier institutions in progressive Judaism, offering a unique blend of formal education and community outreach for disadvantaged youth. Houston’s Campaign funds an Early Childhood Development program for Ethiopian children at Leo Baeck.

Houston Jewish Community Foundation The Houston Jewish Community Foundation works with donors to offer a way to support their favorite charities while enhancing the meaning, ease and convenience of giving through various planned giving vehicles. Donors can partner with the Foundation to accomplish their charitable, tax and estate planning goals. The Foundation is structured to advise on and receive gifts of cash, appreciated stock, life insurance, real estate and other property, and it facilitates the creation and administration of donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, endowments and charitable remainder trusts.

Year in Review Board update: In January, Ben Rosenberg became Chair of the Foundation, outgoing Chair Michael Rubenstein became Vice Chair of Development, Jay Kaplan became Treasurer and Nat Levy became Secretary. The Foundation created an Honorary Board comprised of a diverse group of distinguished community leaders that includes Stanford Alexander, Allen J. Becker, Irving Pozmantier, Arthur Schechter and Gary Stein. Grant achievements: This past fiscal year the Foundation distributed more than $10 million from the recommendations of our generous fund holders in charitable grants to support organizations that address some of our community’s deepest needs. One of the Foundation’s distributions was a $1.1 million grant from the Mary L. and William J. Osher Foundation for a new project with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Resident Medical Director in Ethiopia Dr. Rick Hodes and the Baylor College of Medicine. The program will send three doctors from the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative to Ethiopia to work under Hodes so he can mentor and train them to practice medicine in the challenging conditions of Ethiopia. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Resident Medical Director in Ethiopia Dr. Rick Hodes helps a very young patient.

Mission participant Sandra Finkelman walks along with a JAFI Youth Futures student who is riding a donkey to the summit of Mt. Arbel.

2009 Mission Co-Chair Rick Stein with an Ethiopian boy at Leo Baeck.

Making A Difference Today



A message from Lee Wunsch (Continued from page 1)

I hope that each of you will join me in celebrating our community’s vibrancy even in the face of manifold challenges that lie ahead. I hope and pray that there are better days ahead and that very soon, the Federation and all that it embodies will emerge from this difficult situation stronger and more vital than ever. During this past week, we had the opportunity to observe the

spreads a shelter of peace (a sukkat shalom) over us and over all Israel.” As our year begins, may we experience a sukkat shalom – a tabernacle of peace over our community and over all of K’lal Yisrael. Sincerely,

mitzvah of enjoying one or more meals in a sukkah. In our prayers, the sukkah is a symbol of peace. The Hashkiveinu prayer recited each Shabbat asks G-d to shelter us in peace: “Praised are you, G-d, who

Economic Assistance Fund (Continued from page 2)

community impacted by the economic crisis. Fund recipients will also be asked to help replenish the fund to support others if they are able to do so once they get past their crisis. “It is hoped that those recipients who are helped to get back on their feet, if they are able, will ‘pay it forward’ and help others who have found themselves in similar situations,” Friedman said. The money is meant to help with safety net needs including housing, food, medical treatment, essential transportation and short-term childcare. “While we’ve had Israel Emergency drives, or drives to care for persons who suffered dislocation from Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, we’ve never

been in a situation in this community where the economy was such that so many peoples’ lives were disrupted,” Friedman said. In addition to providing direct aid, money has been allocated to JFS for a 12-month period to staff a part-time employment counselor and to provide additional hours for a financial aid counselor. “It’s to the credit of the community that the Federation leadership and members of the Federation Board felt the need to establish this fund,” Friedman said. The Federation intends to work with all local Jewish synagogues and agencies to help direct anyone seeking assistance to JFS. Similar funds have been established by Federations across the country to assist those in need in their communities. To request assistance, call JFS at (713) 667-9336.

Live Generously (Continued from page 5)

RED = Annual Campaign Allocations BLACK = Supplemental Gifts

Thank you to our Corporate Partners The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston could not make a difference in Jewish lives without the generosity and support of our Corporate Partners. They do more than make a contribution—they make a difference.





The Bristol Highrise Condominiums The Business and Professional Women’s Breakfast Club Colorectal Surgical Associates Gem Insurance Gulf Coast MRI & Diagnostic Gulf Coast Surgical Associates Laura Mercier Cosmetics


McNeil, Levy & Friedman, L.P. Memorial Hermann Outpatient Imaging Division Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Nosher Catering Plants ‘N Petals Stone Store


Andry’s Photography BBVA Compass benjy’s in the Village Bernstein Realty Best Entertainment Condera Advisors, LLC Convergent Capital Advisors LLC Fidelity One MortgageBarry Levinson & Gregg Sheena Fresh Foods Catering Greenberg Traurig LLP Howard Frazier Barker Elliott Inc. Investec Advisory Group, L.P. JCC Fitness Center Jackson Walker L.L.P.


Jeff Fitlow Photography Jenny Tavor, A Custom Catering Service Johnson Bender & Company Mir Fox & Rodriquez, P.C. Pasadena Insurance/ The Karkowsky Family Prime Signs Stephanie Maierson Photography Sun & Ski Sports Susman Godfrey Thompson & Knight LLP Weinstein Spira & Company, P.C. Whitney Bank Zimmerman, Axelrad, Meyer, Stern & Wise PC


Art Prints by Michael Corn Courtyard by Marriott Pearland The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion E Plus Promotions Houston Dynamo Ideal Party Decorators Lawndale Art Center Marilyn Hassid and the Arts & Culture Department of the JCC Martin Fein Investments Museum of Natural Science New York Bagel and Coffee Shop Paul M. Friedman MD.- Dermatology Laser Center Susan Farb Public Relations

Making A Difference Today



5603 S. Braeswood Blvd. Houston, Texas 77096-3907


FALL 2009

October 2009 3 - 9


10 - 11

Shemini Atzeret - Simchat Torah


Lion of Judah & Pomegranate Society Fall Event


YAD Annual Kick-off Event

Mission Statement The mission of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is to preserve and enrich Jewish communal life through innovative and visionary leadership that is responsive and responsible to Jewish communities locally, nationally, in Israel and around the world.

Board of Trustees

Leonard Goldstein


28th Annual Night to Honor Israel

Cornerstone Church, San Antonio

December 2009 12 - 19


January 2010 24

Super Sunday

25 - 26

Super Week

29 - 30

Tu B’Shvat

Chair of the Board

Mark Brookner Bobby Lapin Rick Stein Vice Chairs

Sandy Weiner Secretary

Elizabeth Grzebinski Assistant Secretary

Denis Braham Treasurer

Ken Arfa, M.D. David Barish, Ph.D. Stephanie Beasley Linda Freedman Block Sandy Block Buzzy Bluestone Sarah Braham Stephen Breslauer Donald Brodsky Debra G. Cohen Debra Kass Dluhy Alan Eisenman Elaine Epstein Vikki Evans Kelli Cohen Fein, M.D. Buster Feldman Howard W. Feldman Sandra Finkelman Steve Finkelman

Milton Frankfort Buster Freedman Don Freedman Martha Freedman Fran Friedman Terry Gardner Rabbi Barry Gelman Carol Goldberg Raquel Goldberg John Goott Noel Graubart Ben Guefen Rick S. Guttman Franklin J. “Jay” Harberg, Jr. David E. Hess Lorraine Horwitz Basil Joffe, Ph.D. Elyse Spector Kalmans Joe Kaplan

Ann Kaufman Stephen Kaufman Joe Kornfeld Livingston Kosberg Bryan Leibman, M.D. Richard Leibman Jacob Leon Nancy Lerner Fred Levine Marshall Levit Jill Levy Michael Levy Nat Levy Robert L. Levy Barry Lewis Glenn L. Lowenstein Gil Melman Gerald Merfish Etan Mirwis

Rabbi Steven Morgen David C. Morris Ron Moses, M.D. Esther Polland Irving Pozmantier Paula Pozmantier Rabbi Joseph Radinsky Larry S. Reader Alan Rosen, M.D. Ben Rosenberg Michael Rubenstein Arthur L. Schechter Ed Schreiber Robyn Shkolnick Joel Spira Dan C. Steiner Rabbi Brian Strauss Adolph Susholtz Steve Tobias

February 2010 2



Yom Limmud - A Day of Learning


YAD Signature Event

March 2010 TBA

Cardozo/Maimonides Annual Dinner


YAD Mitzvah Day

30 - April 6 Pesach

April 2010 TBA

Lion of Judah Heart to Heart Event


Pomegranate Society Thank You Event


Yom Hashoah


Yom Hazikaron


Yom Ha’atzmaut Go to for more details on these and other events.

We notified you in the last Making A Difference Today newsletter that we would be moving to a digital format newsletter only. However, due to an outpouring of support for the printed version, we will continue providing you with a hard copy.

Dan Trachtenberg Ellen Trachtenberg Haya Varon Benjamin S. Warren Naomi Warren Sandra Weiner Bernard Weingarten Eileen Weisman Dolores Wilkenfeld Joe L. Williams Shira Yoshor Lee Wunsch President and Chief Executive Officer

Making A Difference Today: Fall 2009  

The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston Fall 2009 Donor Newsletter.

Making A Difference Today: Fall 2009  

The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston Fall 2009 Donor Newsletter.