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9.5.14 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

Jan Schneiderman, longtime community volunteer and dedicated lay leader, will be recognized this weekend with the 2014 Kipnis-Wilson Friedland Award by the Jewish Federations of North America.

Schneiderman will accept the award at the International Lion of Judah Conference in New York City, on Sept. 8.

This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Lion of Judah, an extraordinary group of dedicated Jewish women philanthropists who donate $5000 or more each year to the Annual Campaigns of their local Federations.

Describing herself as “someone who will never retire,” Schneiderman’s community involvement reads like a who’s who of Jewish Omaha philanthropy. She is a lifetime member of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Omaha section and was its President from 1976-1980. She was elected to the NCJW Central District Board where she served as President from 1982-1983. From there, she served as a national board member for eight years and then served two terms as a national Vice-President, and finally, National President from 1999-2002.

Inspired by her first trip to Israel in 1987, she has since made over 30 trips with the Jewish Federation of Omaha, NJCW and the Council of Presidents of Major American Organizations and remains a staunch advocate of the Jewish State.

“I have great admiration for and fully support NCJW because of what they do. The national platforms seek to provide support for women, children and families. They tackle tough issues we must face,” she stated.

She served as President of Temple Israel when an illness cut short her term. She also served on the Federation Board two separate terms and chaired the Annual Campaign, once with Gary Javitch and Carl Riekes and the Women’s Campaign with good friend, Maxine Kirshenbaum

“I will never say no when asked. I take the job very seriously. The Federation is what makes everything possible in Jewish Omaha. Every Jewish entity in this town receives some type of Federation support.”

She added, “It is a privilege to help people maintain Jewish lives. It’s very rewarding to volunteer and support our community. I truly believe there’s never a reason for a Jewish person to want in this community.”

“Jan is the consummate lay leader. She cares so much about Jewish Omaha and it shows in the time and effort she puts into all she does. We are so fortunate to have her talents for the 2015 Annual Campaign,” said Campaign Director Sharon Kirshenbaum.

Schneiderman recalls being the “3rd or 4th Lion in Omaha. “Anne Shackman solicited me on Ammunition Hill in Israel. There’s nothing like being cornered while on tour, on top of a hill, visiting Israel. You just don’t say no.”

There are 75 Lions of Judah in Omaha, an impressive number nationally, given the size of our Jewish community.  Last year, their gifts accounted for 24% of the total dollars raised for the 2013 Annual Campaign.

Previous Kipnis-Wilson Friedland award winners from Omaha include Zoe Riekes, Anne Shackman, the late Dorothy Riekes, Maxine Kirshenbaum and Nancy Noddle.

Schneiderman has devoted her time to both the ADL Great Plains regional and national Boards, the allocation committee of the United Way of the Midlands, and the board of Planned Parenthood of Omaha.

A lifelong resident of Omaha, Jan and her husband Les have three married children, Scott and Heidi Schneiderman in Omaha, Robin and Ken Baer in Dix Hills, NY and Debbie and Steve Trenton in Mission Hills, KS. They are proud grandparents to seven.

The International Lion of Judah conference takes place this weekend, Sept. 7-10 in New York City.