A year after the newly renamed Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh reported a drop in campaign giving, all four of its major revenue streams have recovered and are even recording increases.
At its annual meeting Tuesday night, 2011 Annual Campaign Chair Lou Plung formally announced that giving to the recently completed 2010 Community Campaign rose to $12.56 million, up slightly from $12.55 million in 2009.
In addition, Federation Chair Billy Rudolph reported foundation contributions rose to $12.7 million, up from $9.5 million last year; supplemental giving went up to $2.7 million from $2.2 million last year; and while contributions from the state-administered Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) dropped to $2.5 million from $2.88 million the previous year, government grants on the whole are up.
“The fact we were able to do this despite one of the greatest financial downturns since the Great Depression is an incredible achievement,” Rudolph said.
The increase in Community Campaign giving was based on more than 5,500 donors, according Plung. “We are one only a handful of communities that raised its campaign [this past year],” he said.
Good news notwithstanding, Federation President and CEO Jeffrey Finkelstein warned that challenges lay ahead for the community — namely, how to inspire young Jewish adults to become actively engaged in the community.
Using computer terminology, Finkelstein asked, “How many times will we be able to reboot?” He then urged the approximately 300 people packed into Levinson Hall at the Jewish Community Center to use the meeting to celebrate the past year’s achievements “and start afresh.”
“A lot of our younger people in our community aren’t connecting Jewishly,” Finkelstein later told The Chronicle. “If we don’t give them the tools, the knowledge and the inspiration to be proud members of the Jewish community we’re going to have trouble in the future.”
But that trend can be reversed, he added.
“It’s about making Jewish life accessible, affordable and compelling,” he said. “If we can do all that, then we’ll be OK.”
The financial news was only one announcement Tuesday. Rudolph also announced that David and Cindy Shapira and Edgar and Sandy Snyder have agreed to chair the committee preparing the centennial celebration of the Federation in 2012.
The centennial was a recurring theme throughout the meeting. The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, a project established last year to lay the groundwork for Jewish continuity in the Pittsburgh area, has already raised $10 million, none of which comes from the Community Campaign.
The project has already funded several activities, including grants for first time campers, tuition to Birthright Israel for a busload of young Pittsburghers and continuing education for 12 Jewish Pittsburgh professionals.
In accepting this year’s Emanuel Spector Memorial Award, Daniel Shapira, immediate past chair of the Federation, said he was humbled to receive the same prize that his mother and father, the late Saul and Frieda Shapira; his brother, David Shapira, and his late sister-in-law, Karen Shapira, all previously were awarded.
“Perhaps one day we (he and Shapira’s wife, Barbara) will be able to sit here and watch one of our kids win this wonderful award,” he said. Shapira was instrumental in establishing the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future.
In accepting the Doris and Leonard H. Rudolph Jewish Community Professional Award, Aaron Weil, executive director of the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center, announced that 40 Hillel JUC students have signed up to attend the General Assembly in November in New Orleans up from zero last year.
Only one other institution, the University of Michigan, is sending more students. Hillel JUC is tied with University of Maryland for second.
Weil used his acceptance speech to tout JBurgh, the Hillel JUC program that engages Pittsburgh graduate students and young professionals, noting it has attracted some 800 participants and has become a national model.
He referred to Pittsburgh as the “the new Altneuland” (a reference to Theodore Herzl’s landmark 1902 novel about a future Jewish state). He said the characteristics Herzl assigned to the state he envisioned — job opportunities, quality of life, quality education — could be applied to Pittsburgh, which some observers say is showing signs of emerging from decades of economic and population decline.
But more must be done, he said, noting that some 5,000 Jewish undergraduates, graduates and young adults are in Pittsburgh and its suburbs.
“They’re in our community,” he said. “We have an obligation to keep them here.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)