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Jeff Wild, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s 2019 Campaign for Jewish Needs chair, tells the audience what this year’s theme, “The Impact of Together,” means to him. 

Following a nearly 10-month span during which Jews were slain at two synagogues across the country and two men were arrested for plotting synagogue shootings in Ohio, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is preparing to bolster funding for already heightened security as it launches its 2020 Campaign for Jewish Needs.

“Our expectation, is, unfortunately, the security needs in our community are only going to grow,” said Jeffrey J. Wild, chair for both the 2019 and 2020 Campaign for Jewish Needs. “We’ve got armed guards that are patrolling the community. We’ve implemented sophisticated security and site control protocols at … our locations. And now, we’re training volunteer community members to recognize signs of potential threat. It takes a lot of work to do that. It takes a lot of money to do that. And again, we expect that’s going to grow under the next number of years.”

The security allocation at the Federation in the current fiscal year jumped from $535,000 to $3.2 million midyear.

“What happened in Pittsburgh and San Diego obviously changed the paradigm in terms of how our community responded to it,” Wild said. “It’s really an example of how the Federation is the one organization that’s planning on behalf of the entire community. There are a lot of great organizations out there in Cleveland, in Jewish Cleveland, but the Federation is the only one that’s looking at the entire community – and not just looking at what we’re going to do and respond to this year but looking strategically over the next three-to-five years at what we need to do with respect to security and so many other needs across the community.”

The 2020 Campaign for Jewish Needs will kick off with its launch event from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 28 at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike.

The campaign will conclude Dec. 11 and funds raised will be allocated for the fiscal year starting June 1, 2020. There is no specific dollar-amount goal for the campaign, but Wild hopes the Federation will raise more than the $32.7 million it raised a year ago “by a meaningful amount.”

“We don’t put a number on it,” he said. “It doesn’t really help us, per se. If we raised $40 million, unfortunately there are so many needs, we’d be able to spend that money because the needs are there.”

Jewish Federation of Cleveland allocates $34.5M to Jewish causes

Beyond security, the Federation allocated 40% of its 2019 campaign dollars or more than $12 million, to the Jewish Federations of North America and overseas, which Wild summarized as Jews in need overseas.

“We’re addressing poverty overseas, especially in Israel, but also in about 70 other countries,” he said. “I just had a chance to actually visit Russia this past summer. It’s sad to see the number of elderly Jews that have no means to provide food for themselves, a roof over their heads and medicine to take care of their needs and we’re doing a lot of that.”

Some 30% of this year’s allocation or more than $9.1 million, went toward local human services, partly for Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, Wild said.

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