WASHINGTON – Michael Siegal of Gates Mills concluded his three-year term as chair of the Jewish Federations of North America board of trustees at the 2015 general assembly Nov. 10 in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton.
Siegal told some 3,000 people about the successes and challenges he has faced as they awaited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the stage at the three-day plenary.
“I am a son of Cleveland, Ohio, – the town of sports sadness,” he began his nearly 21-minute address.
The CEO of Olympic Steel, Siegal told how he became involved in federation.
“My parents installed in me the necessities to be involved and to be connected with pride and integrity,” he said. “Eventually, this led me to the federations. Our mission is truly timeless and is not always easy.”
With terror rearing its ugly head almost on a daily basis over the last few weeks in Israel, Siegal’s farewell speech was timely.
“Three years ago, almost to this very day, we were on a plane to Israel, standing in solidarity with our Israel brethren during Operation Pillar of Defense. Fourteen months later, we were back again, in the south of Israel, where we gave emotional as well as financial support. We visited the traumatized families who had just discovered tunnels built by Hamas. Through it all, federation, our emergency campaigns, along with our oversees partners helped hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
“We will always be there shoulder to shoulder with our family in Israel.”
Siegal also spoke about the federation’s work to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses and the increase in anti-Semitism around the world.
He closed his remarks by thanking his family, his employees and colleagues at his business, and his friends at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
Siegal then had the honor of introducing the plenary’s main speaker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opened his remarks by saying to Siegal: “Thank you for everything you have done.”