Dan Zelman, general chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s 2016 Campaign for Jewish Needs, couldn’t hide his excitement as he prepared to announce the total amount raised in the campaign.
Zelman called for a drum roll, but with no drummer in the room, he asked the crowd of about 300 to improvise by creating its own. He then announced the figure – $30,761,661, surpassing last year’s total of $30,317,879 – at the Campaign Closing Celebration Dec. 16 at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.
It marks the sixth consecutive year the Federation has increased the total amount raised in the campaign, and the most campaign dollars raised since the 2008 campaign, which generated $32.4 million.
“It’s wonderful when a community the size of Cleveland is able to raise so much money that will help Jews in Cleveland, in Israel and around the world, as well as enable the Federation to help our neighbors from Cleveland in general,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, Federation president.
Dollars raised from the campaign help feed the hungry, care for the elderly, educate youth and ensure a Jewish future in Greater Cleveland, Israel and 70 countries around the world.
This year’s campaign had a total of 11,012 donors, compared to 11,038 donors last year. There were also 1,339 new donors this year.
Jennifer Korach, co-chair of the women’s campaign, said 3,741 women raised $3,795,467 for the campaign.
Kerry Kertesz, co-chair of the Young Leadership Division campaign, said 1,203 donors in their 20s, 30s and 40s pledged $542,018.
Eli Giterman, co-chair of the high school and college division, said $22,618 was raised from 578 donors in that division.
Zelman, who completed his second year as campaign chair, was honored as outgoing chair.
“It’s easy to develop a passion for this, and I really think anybody in the position that I have would develop it, too,” he said. “It’s really been a labor of love.
“I felt I had to lead by example, and I think all the volunteers in this room followed in my footsteps in that regard, and that’s what really made this as successful as it has been.”
Zelman, of Moreland Hills, said David Adler would serve as general chair of the campaign the next two years. Adler, of Pepper Pike, was a campaign vice chair this year.
“I do think two years is the perfect time to do this job,” Zelman said. “I’m happy to turn it over to David Adler, and it will be in great hands once he takes over in about 10 minutes.”
Rachel Weinberg, of Orange, received the Ambassador Milton A. and Roslyn Z. Wolf Young Campaigner of the Year Award. The award honors someone age 40 or younger who demonstrates the principles of leadership, dedication and hard work.
Renee Chelm, Federation board chair, described Weinberg as “a rising star who has a great passion for the Jewish community.”
Weinberg, 31, was a vice chair of the Young Leadership Division for this year’s campaign after serving as YLD campaign chair last year. In January, she will become the Federation’s YLD chair.
“I really believe my childhood shaped me into the person I am today,” she said. “I gave $18 – a chai donation – (to the campaign) at the age of 6, and I haven’t stopped since.”
Nancy Wolf, daughter of the late Milton and Roslyn Wolf, presented the award to Weinberg, who received an all-expense paid Federation mission to Israel and a plaque.
“We can’t take for granted the wonderful community we live in today,” Weinberg said. “It’s our job to ensure the future, because if we don’t, who will?”
Weinberg is an insurance risk manager for Brunswick Companies in Fairlawn. She and her husband, Ken Weinberg, are members of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike.
Several others shared their experiences as campaign volunteers. They included Kyla Epstein Schneider, chair of the Federation’s Alzheimer’s and dementia task force; Jordan Berkowitz, a YLD board member; Nicole Simonovic, co-chair of the high school and college campaign; and Larry Mack, a longtime campaigner.
A dessert reception followed the program.
Year by year
Totals for the last 10 Jewish Federation of Cleveland Campaigns for Jewish Needs:
2016 – $30,761,661
2015 – $30,317,879
2014 – $29,609,410
2013 – $29,004,818
2012 – $28,503,902
2011 – $27,942,629
2010 – $27,792,531
2009 – $28,772,400
2008 – $32.4 million
2007 – $31,557,519