Gala Address by James Stein, President
Welcome to the 75th gala celebration of the Jewish Federation of Madison and its contributions to the Madison and world-wide Jewish communities. As President of the Federation, I stand on the shoulders of giants, the past Presidents who we honor tonight for their service to our community. These past Presidents are my friends and role models. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me by their generosity. Not only their financial generosity - which is tremendous - but with the generosity of their time and devotion to the Federation’s mission: building a strong and unified Jewish community in order to ensure the survival, well-being, and continuity of the Jewish people in this area, in Israel, and throughout the world. We truly are indebted to them for helping our community achieve its mission.
I also am grateful to all of you for supporting the Jewish Federation of Madison, and in doing so, helping to make Madison the unique and thriving Jewish community that it is today. As you know, the Federation runs Camp Shalom, Madison’s oldest day camp. Camp Shalom has provided a safe and fun environment for Jewish and non-Jewish children of any race, ethnicity, and belief for over 60 years. We also run Gan HaYeled, our Jewish pre-school, which ensures Jewish children have the opportunity to build friendships while learning core Jewish values and traditions from a young age. In collaboration with the local houses of worship, we run Midrasha, our Hebrew High School, which ensures that Jewish teens have an opportunity to learn and socialize with each other every week. Midrasha also encourages our teens to continue their studies in college with a generous incentive award. The Federation also sponsors Yonim, an award-winning Israeli dance troupe; the Madison Jews News, which Jewish families in Madison receive for free; Israel education, primarily through our two outstanding Shlichim (Israel Program Emissaries), and wonderful family education and social programming.
I‘d also like to call your attention to the Federation’s newest programs that have been very impactful: Our novel innovation grants program that encourages and invests in innovative Jewish programming and service by our community partners, as well as our visionary and exceptionally active outreach program. Our outreach program is less than three years old, but already has successfully engaged individuals and families that are new to our community and has helped newcomers integrate into our Jewish Madison. Our outreach program’s signature perk, the Passport to Jewish Life program, has been a tremendous success and is greatly appreciated by our congregations, houses of worship, and local agencies. And finally, we are honored to help fund those outstanding local agencies: Jewish Social Services, the Madison Jewish Community Day School, UW Hillel, Chabad at UW, and the Wisconsin Jewish Conference. Indeed, the breadth and quality of the local programs and agencies that we sponsor and support is staggering for a community our size. Please join time in applauding their work.
But tonight, I am not yet ready to say “Dayeinu.” I am not ready to say “Dayeinu” because it is NOT enough to only work locally. Indeed, it is easy to work in a community where you see and can participate in the fruits of your efforts. But it is more challenging - and perhaps even more important - to remember those who are not here tonight and whose voices require more careful attention to hear. I am referring to the world-wide Jewish community who is living in the most dangerous time it has experienced since before World War II. The rising tide of Anti-Semitism is not just in Europe. Anti-Semitism is growing rapidly in the United States and across the world. It threatens our survival, just as our beloved Israel is threatened externally by its neighbors and from the inside, by social, cultural, economic, and political challenges that this week have led to terror and bloodshed. The Jewish Federation of Madison, through the Jewish Federations of North America and our international beneficiaries - the Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel, HIAS, and World ORT – see to the welfare of Jews and non-Jews abroad. We feed elderly Jews in the Former Soviet Union who have survived communal and institutionalized Anti-Semitism for decades. We help Israel absorb Ethiopians and other refugees who they accept, despite the country’s small size and perilous circumstances. We help fund field centers for victims of missiles and terror bombings, and even hospitals that treat Syrian combatants and refugees: because it is the right and humanitarian action that is required of Jews. Through the JDC’s Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, we have been helping settle thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan since 2013, long before they were making the headlines. These efforts to provide comfort and care remind us that the Federation’s original name was the Jewish Welfare Fund of Madison. We build community infrastructure and strategic partnerships and we raise funds to provide for the welfare of all Jews and all people no matter where they are - and we always will.
And, given the events in Israel this week, I also want to remind everyone that through the Jewish Agency, we support the Fund for the Victims of Terror, which provides Israel’s terror victims with direct, immediate financial assistance after an attack [often within 24 hours] complementing government relief and easing recovery.
So tonight, as we celebrate from the comfort of our lives in Madison, we remember that we are obligated to give. I hope the generosity of the past Presidents - who we honor tonight for always steeping forward and always saying “yes” when our local and world-wide communities were in need - will inspire you to also be generous by increasing your gifts to the 75th anniversary Tzedakah campaign. Our Jewish Federation, its programs and the agencies we support are in need. This means that real people are in real need. Tonight, I ask you to think back a mere three weeks ago, as we stood in shul on Yom Kippur, hoping that our prayers, repentance, and Tzedakah would return us to our purest and best selves, thereby setting us on a better path for this new year. Tonight you can make good on your promises and prayers by increasing your gift to the Jewish Federation of Madison, thereby doing a world of good. Thank you for your generosity and mazel tov to our entire community on reaching this momentous occasion.
Gala Celebration Remarks by Dina Weinbach, Executive Director
Good Evening. My name is Dina Weinbach and I am the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Madison. I am so thrilled to see all of you here tonight to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Madison. Tonight we celebrate - we celebrate our history, our leadership and our community.
The Jewish Federation of Madison has so many strengths - one of them is its history. Our founders did an amazing job establishing a solid foundation for what was then known as the Madison Jewish Welfare Fund in 1940. They were insightful and intelligent in creating the foundational documents and in responding to the extraordinary crises then facing world Jewry and our own community. In doing so, they created a vision for what we were to become. Their successors, a generation later, codified all that we had become into a Mission Statement that respected the past yet spoke to an exciting future:
The mission of the Jewish Federation of Madison is to work toward building a strong and unified Jewish community in order to ensure the survival, well-being and continuity of the Jewish people in this area, in Israel and throughout the world.
Tonight we honor our leaders who established this foundation for us. Many of whom are in this room, and many of whom were past-presidents of this organization. Their leadership is inspiring and we will be honoring them later in the evening with a special presentation. I also want to recognize and honor Steve Morrison, the longest serving Executive Director of this organization from 1984 – 2010.
In addition to our history and our leaders, another strength of the Jewish Federation of Madison is this community. You. There are so many committed, dedicated, and hard-working people involved in our Jewish community. I am in awe of the time, energy, and generosity of so many, and I am so grateful.
Standing here tonight, we look back on the 75 years of this organization and we recognize that it is up to us – Dor L’Dor, from generation to generation - we need to continue the legacy that those who preceded us created by celebrating the past, using it as a foundation and a guide to build our future. I look forward to creating our future together.
Honoring the Past-Presidents Remarks by Dina Weinbach, Executive Director
Tonight we honor our past presidents. This is an amazing group of people who devoted an impressive amount of time and energy to this volunteer position. Their passion and dedication to Jewish life and a strong Jewish community is inspiring. Their vision, hard work and extraordinary leadership helped shape the Madison Jewish community over the past 75 years.
In their honor, the Gala committee commissioned a painting to be displayed in the conference room at the Max Weinstein Jewish Community Building. This painting was commissioned with a specifically selected quote “As the generation, so the leader; as the leader, so the generation.”
This painting will be an inspiration to future leaders in our community. Each of the past presidents will receive their own print of the original as well.
1940 - 1941 Joe Rothschild, Z"L
1942 - 1943 Emanuel Simon, Z"L
1943 - 1944 Mark Goldberg, Z"L
1944 - 1945 Max Weinstein, Z"L
1945 - 1946 Emanuel Simon, Z"L
1946 - 1947 J.J. Sinagub, Z"L
1947 - 1950 Max Weinstein, Z"L
1950 - 1952 Nathan Sudow, Z"L
1952 - 1954 Harry Epstein, Z"L
1954 - 1956 Alex Temkin, Z"L
1956 - 1959 Laurence A. Weinstein, Z"L
1959 - 1961 Robert Levine, Z"L
1961 - 1964 H.K. Parks, Z"L
1964 - 1966 Ben Minkoff, Z"L
1966 - 1968 Warren Randy
1968 - 1969 Gilbert Rosenberg, Z"L
1969 - 1971 Alex Temkin, Z"L
1971 - 1973 Robert Berman, Z"L
1973 - 1975 Ghita Bessman
1975 - 1977 I.V. Fine
1977 - 1979 Harvey Malofsky, Z"L
1979 - 1982 Stan Mintz
1982 - 1984 Gerald Stewart
1984 - 1986 Mark Laufman
1986 - 1988 Louis H. Swedarsky, Z"L
1988 - 1990 Lawrence Shapiro, Z"L
1990 - 1992 Judith Schreiber
1992 - 1994 Evelyn W. Minkoff, Z"L
1994 - 1996 Marjorie Tobias
1996 - 1998 Joel Minkoff
1998 - 2000 William Haus
2000 - 2002 Thomas Palay
2002 - 2004 Diane Seder
2004 - 2007 James Youngerman
2007 - 2010 Lester Pines
2010 - 2011 Kathy Blumenfeld
2011 - 2013 Deborah Minkoff
Z”L Zichrono Livrocho - Of Blessed Memory