Ken Liffman said he’s extremely proud to be Jewish.
“I’m amazed that such a small group has survived for 6,000 years,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get involved in the community and I’ve gravitated to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. I think, as Jews, we are able to use our power of volunteerism exponentially, not only for our community but for the greater community.”
Liffman said he considers hunger issues first and foremost, such as Harvest for Hunger, and also focuses on other essential needs such as shelter, clothing and education.
“(The needs are) endless,” he said. “That is Jewish Cleveland, particularly on the East Side (of Cleveland). I’m in the Jewish community here, I live here, and I end up gravitating to like-minded Jewish individuals. Most of the Jews I know have all been taught to get involved and stay involved and to help others. That’s Cleveland. It’s one of the primary reasons I’ve always stayed in Cleveland. I really think we are a great philanthropic community.”
Liffman said he gives advice to the young lawyers at McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal and Liffman Co. to become involved for the right reasons.
“I tell all the lawyers at my firm, but particularly the younger ones, to get involved in the community, and to do it for the right reasons,” he said. “Don’t do it for exposure or to try and ‘get something out of it.’ Do it because you really believe in it and you like it. You’ll meet wonderful people and you’ll help a good cause.
“It’s just like work or anything else – you have to like what you’re doing and like who you’re doing it with. Believe in the cause and then it won’t seem like it’s such a weight on you. You’ll feel better about it. I’ve met wonderful people on the various boards I’ve been on over the years. At the moment, my favorite is the Maltz (Museum of Jewish Heritage) Board. It’s a very eclectic group. I feel honored to be sitting there amongst so many wonderful people.”
One challenge Liffman sees in the community is simply the lack of time to address all of the local, national and international issues presented.
“There’s only so many hours in the day,” he said. “It starts with family – my family is growing now, I have two grandchildren, which has been incredibly wonderful – but as you get older, your stamina is not as great. I have hope for the Cleveland community, but I also know some of the giants of the Cleveland community are passing on.
“It will be a challenge for us to sustain, certainly financially, those levels of commitment. The number of Jews in Cleveland have stayed pretty much the same, but there has been a shift in population from the post-World War II
demographics to the current demographics. That will be a challenge for the community. In terms of me, personally, I’m just one guy. But I’m doing the best I can. I do know that, as long as I can, I will continue to try. I do not give up.”
– Ed Carroll