The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago celebrated another year of commitment to those in need in Chicago, in Israel and the rest of the world at its 113th Annual Meeting, held Sept. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, in the midst of finishing his four-year term in the post, delivered the keynote speech, which was followed by the presentation of the Julius Rosenwald Memorial Award to Lawrence E. Glick, who became the 50th recipient of the Federation's highest honor after six decades of service.
Read about the morning Business Meeting
The luncheon began with an invocation from Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue and included the annual State of the Federation address from Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation.
Dr. Michele Sackheim Wein chaired the Annual Meeting, joined by David T. Brown, Chairman of the JUF/Federation Board of Directors. In addition to presenting the Rosenwald Award, Brown, in his first year as chairman, presented the Shofar Award to 2013 Annual Campaign Chairman Michael Zaransky.
"It is impossible for me or any of us to be fully Jewish without being part of a community," Zaransky said. "Because being Jewish means being part of a people. This community, our Federation community through our JUF, allows me to be and feel totally, authentically and completely Jewish."
Lee Miller was introduced as Chairman of the 2014 JUF Annual Campaign.
More than 1,200 people attended this year's meeting. In addition to members of JUF's agencies and beneficiaries, Jewish community leaders and Jewish youth from Chicago-area day schools, many foreign dignitaries were present. They included the Honorable Roey Gilad, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, along with Chicago-based consuls general from Austria, Bulgaria, Burundi, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Jordan, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Taiwan (Republic of China), Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
City, state and U.S. officials representing all branches of government also were in attendance, as well as local members of law enforcement. Sackheim Wein also welcomed colleagues of fellow human services agencies, with a special mention to members of the Refugee Social Service Consortium of the State of Illinois, of which JUF/Federation is the coordinating agency.
Amb. Oren on Israel rising to meet its challenges
A native of New Jersey, Oren began his remarks with a story from his youth, when a bomb believed to be planted by the Ku Klux Klan exploded in his home synagogue. He vividly recalled that, as firemen attempted to fight the blaze and save the Torah scrolls, the entire community joined hands and sang "Am Yisrael Chai." He noted the parallel to the way Israel faces its current challenges. Watch a video of Ambassador Oren's remarks
Since stepping into his role as ambassador in 2009, Oren said we could not have predicted the entire Middle East would unravel. Israel has watched as Iran built its nuclear program, Egypt overthrew two regimes, Hamas fired countless long-range rockets into Israel, and Syria's borders, after nearly 40 years of quiet, became rife with civil war.
"How have we been able to grapple with dangers, with difficulties, with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in a way that no other country has had to deal with, all at the same time, in such a short period?" he asked. "We've done it because we don't do it alone."
Oren lauded the strength of United States-Israel relations, saying the alliance is deeper and more multi-faceted than any alliance the U.S. has had with any foreign country in the post-World War II period, and the core of this relationship is the American Jewish community.
"We today are holding hands not just around challenges, not just facing up to hatred," he said. "We are holding hands and celebrating the accomplishments, the miracle of the state of Israel."
The Federation responds to crises in U.S. and Israel
JUF was the first Federation to establish a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Nasatir noted in his State of the Federation address, and the same was done this spring in the wake of the tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma City. Through the TOV Volunteer Network, JUF also sent college students and others on rebuild missions to these areas. Watch a video of the State of the Federation address
"A Federation can't prevent most disasters, but we can ease the suffering of the victims and rebuild lives," Nasatir said, also bringing to mind the tragedies of the past year: the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, as well as the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Nasatir emphasized the Federation's commitment to keep synagogues, schools and community centers safe by allocating $2 million to improve security, on top of $10 million in government grants secured by the Federation's Springfield and Washington D.C. offices in recent years. Also, JUF, along with both the federal and Cook County Departments of Homeland Security, conducted the nation's first emergency table-top exercises for Jewish day schools.
The emphasis on security and crisis relief also extends to Israel. Last November, when Hamas increased the intensity of its rocket attacks, JUF advanced $1 million to aid the victims, while thousands of Chicagoans rallied downtown to voice their solidarity. And even though Israel has its own security concerns, Nasatir said JUF will contribute to the efforts to help Jews in Damascus and Yemen find refuge in Israel whenever needed.
Glick receives Rosenwald for nearly 60 years of involvement
Lawrence Glick receives the Rosenwald Award from David T. Brown
Rosenwald Award recipient Lawrence E. Glick is one of seven generations in his family to have lived in or been strongly connected to Israel. In 1882, his great-great-grandfather was one of 11 men who left Russia and founded Mazkeret Batya, one of the first moshavim in Israel, and his great-grandfather helped organize the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. Watch the video of his speech
"Commitment to the Jewish community and Israel has been a family value handed down not just from generation to generation, but from generation to generation to generation to … well, you get the idea," said Brown, who presented the award.
Glick became involved with the Federation in 1955. He served on the Board for 20 years and chaired the record-breaking 2002 Annual Campaign. He was a member of the Campaign Cabinet and of the Legacies and Endowments Committee, served as Vice Chair of the Centennial Campaign, and was National Chair of the United Jewish Communities Prime Minister's Associates Mission.
Upon accepting the award, Glick attributed his ability to make a difference to bold thinking, which he said "is the reason we Jews do more than survive - we thrive.
"This kind of thinking inspired me to honor their legacies by helping people here in Chicago and Israel, and in other countries throughout the world," he said.
Glick, who is a lawyer, Of Counsel at Chuhak & Tecson, has been an avid supporter of education, children and health services over the years. He has been very involved with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, serving as Deputy Chairman of its International Board of Governors and Vice Chairman of the American Friends of Hebrew University Board. He also is on the boards of the Illinois Masonic Medical Center Foundation and the Diabetes Research Institute and, with his wife, Nancy, supports a Hebrew University lab working on a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Most notably in Chicago's Jewish community, Glick and his wife endowed the Glick Center for Early Childhood Development and the Glick Family Camp at Jewish Child & Family Services.
"Through my father's commitment to Jewish organizations, I learned how much we can do when we work together to repair the world," Glick said. "Like him, I wanted to set an example for my children and their children."
A year of special anniversaries
This year saw Israel celebrate 65 years as an independent state, as well as the anniversaries of two important marches, the March on Washington to free Soviet Jewry 25 years ago, and the Civil Rights March on Washington 50 years ago. On Nov. 9, it also will be 75 years since Kristallnacht (the night of the broken glass), when Nazis burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria.
As the world watches similar horrors just outside Israel's borders, in Egypt and especially Syria, Nasatir said that as Jews who have witnessed these acts of violence, must remember - and act. He drew upon the language of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to illustrate how far we still must go to realize this dream.
"Looking at the young people here today, we realize the world you are inheriting is scarred by chaos, terror and fear," he said. "To the dreamers and doers among you, we say it is also a world of unlimited opportunity. And in this world, your Jewish heritage provides a beacon, a compass and an anchor of meaning."