Dec 10, 2014

Top Federation Donors Hear Former Ambassador Michael Oren at Leadership Gifts Event

As eagerly anticipated, a night of celebration, inspiration and illumination was in store for the top donors of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County at this year’s new Leadership Gifts Event. Nearly 150 guests gathered at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton on December 4, 2014. Moving the new season into high gear, members of the Federation’s Ketubah Society, Prime Minister’s Council and King David Society reunited with warmth and affection at a cocktail reception, followed by an elegant dinner and enlightening, inspiring program keynoted by Michael Oren, Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States.

Click here to enjoy photos from the Leadership Gifts Event

“We’re thrilled to pay highest tribute to three groups of our community’s most distinguished local contributors to the well-being and security of our Jewish family,” said Toby Cooperman, who co-chaired the night with her husband, Leon, and with Myrna and Norman Ricken.

“Not only do you support this community, you lead this community by example,” welcomed Norman Ricken. “By standing with our Federation as our most dedicated contributors, each of you makes a statement of what is important to you. Tonight, we celebrate the impact you make on thousands, locally, in Israel and worldwide.”

The Federation’s Ketubah Society banner Hall of Fame was on proud display, celebrating donor families who have contributed $1 million or more cumulatively to the Federation’s 35 Annual Campaigns for Human Needs. The 43 Ketubah Society member families welcomed two more this year, as Rani Garfinkle, Prime Minister’s Council Chair, announced that Freyda and Edward Burns, and Eleanor and (of blessed memory) Irving Jaffe had joined their ranks.

Congressman Ted Deutch, a lifelong pro-Israel activist and longstanding supporter of the Federation and the Jewish people, spoke of his pride in representing District 21 in South Palm Beach County, and the inspiration he brings to Washington, DC from this caring and generous proactive community.

As the evening celebrated the depth and power of the guests’ philanthropy, Larry Feldman, who, with his wife, Diane, chairs the King David Society, exhorted them to look within themselves, count their blessings and “dream big.”

“The impact you make on thousands upon thousands in need is nothing short of transformational,” he said. “With that ability comes the responsibility to make the most profound impact on the most vulnerable among us. So let’s act on the values that led us to this room tonight. Together, we can make even more profound an impact today – and tomorrow – on the community and the people that we cherish.”

Matthew C. Levin, Federation President and CEO, introduced new opportunities to invest in our community by naming elements of Sinai Residences of Boca Raton, the state-of-the-art Continuing Care Retirement Community that will be completed on the Federation campus in less than a year.

Former Ambassador Oren described his powerful, poignant yet joyous journey from growing up in West Orange, New Jersey to making aliyah and becoming a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces as a Lone Soldier and then an officer, to, as an historian educated at Columbia and Princeton, embarking on a diplomatic career culminating in serving as Ambassador from Israel to the United States from 2009-2013. As he shared his own narrative, he traced the story of the modern State of Israel, rejoicing in how “the Jewish people have come through so much, yet never abandoned our ancestral homeland and our ideals that changed the course of human history. I’ve seen Israel emerge from a backwater to a global hub of technological innovation, one of the world’s happiest, healthiest and most educated societies, and the only democracy in the Middle East.

Oren also analyzed the security challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people today, as well as the attempts to silence Israel supporters and deny Israel’s right to defend against enemy attacks. He lauded the continuing relationship of Israel and the United States, noting that, “For the first time in many centuries, every Jew alive is free. Amid a Renaissance of Jewish learning, there are two great vibrant, strong Jewish communities: in Israel and in North America.”

“At 75%, support for Israel is higher among the American people than ever before, and Israel remains one of the only true bipartisan issues in Congress,” he said. “And, unabashedly pro-American, Israel is the one country in the Middle East where the U.S. President can be cheered. Today the US/Israel relationship is the strongest strategic relationship the US has had since World War II.”

Oren thanked the guests for being vital parts of Israel’s story of not only surviving but thriving. He said, “Israel is predicated on our Jewish peoplehood – varied in politics, observance, origins, it’s why we’ve been here for 4,000 years. Israel is our state as no other country can be.”

The evening’s sponsors were lauded for their support: Federation’s generous Major Gifts Program sponsors Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC; Proskauer; and Steinberg Global Asset Management, Ltd; Exclusive Magazine Sponsor, The Boca Raton Observer; and Atlas Party Rental.

For more information about the variety of Major Gifts opportunities at the Federation, please contact Ida Novack at 561.852.3342 or

Click here to enjoy photos from the Leadership Gifts Event