5.22.15 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

Our community’s young leaders exemplify L’Dor v’Dor, From Generation to Generation. Their generous gift of time and resources are essential to our mission. They serve to support our programs, services and ability to help Jews all around the world. Their work sets an important example for participation from their peers, and their continued involvement is critical to sustaining our community into the future.

Dana Kaufman will be honored this year with the Lois Jeanne Schrager Memorial Young Leadership Award, and Jason Epstein will be honored with the Bruce Fellman Memorial Young Leadership Award at the June 1 Federation Annual Meeting and Awards Night.

In their own ways, Dana and Jason are helping to ensure the success of the Omaha Jewish community. By leading now, they are laying the groundwork for our next generation of communal lay leaders, a big undertaking, but one crucial to Jewish Omaha.

Dana Kaufman is an active and integral part of our community and a generous donor to the Annual Campaign and is a leadership example, first as a Ben Gurion Society donor and recently ascending to a Pomegranate level. Along with being in these Campaign leadership categories, Dana has inspired her fellow young men and women to step up their contributions and hold leadership roles.

Dana’s community involvement extends much farther than just campaign participation. According to her nomination, Dana steps up when asked as an active and engaged member of the community. She spoke at the 2015 Annual Campaign community event and, together with Brett Atlas, spent hours this year working on an education program for young adults.

Since returning to Omaha in 2005, she has volunteered by making calls on Super Sundays, and, in 2009, participated in a young adult mission to Israel. She has also served on the boards of the National Council of Jewish Women-Omaha Section and Temple Israel’s Women of Reform Judaism.

Dana has served on the Child Savings Institute Guild Board of Directors and currently is a member of the Board at Girls, Inc. She will be installed as a new member of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting on June 1.

“My goal is to increase awareness and participation among young community members. We need to find ways for involvement in the long term. We need a community atmosphere for this group – more family, social and educational programming – to remind us that Federation is the lifeblood of our community,” she stated.

Jason Epstein has served on the JCC Board for several years and becomes the president of the JCC Board of Directors this summer. In this capacity, he also becomes a member of the Federation Board of Directors on June 1. He has helped the JCC in several leadership positions including annual budgeting and the CDC Committee. He also was the JCC Board member in charge of remodeling the youth lounge. Jason assisted with a number of special projects the past few years including the Benchmark Program and the Swimming Pool Project. Through these experiences, Jason gained familiarity with all aspects of JCC programming and services.

Because of his depth of understanding of the Federation campus, he is also involved in development of a campus master plan. Those who work with Jason describe him as dependable, reliable and dedicated to our Jewish community. He is known as someone with a “good head on his shoulders” who “can always be counted on to step up when needed.”

Jason has served on the Jewish Press Board and is active at Beth El Synagogue.

Jason has said that his most meaningful community experience was his first year volunteering on the Budget and Allocation committee. “I was with many well-respected, thoughtful and philanthropic community members. Their passion and commitment made a long-standing impact on me. I realized the importance of engaging everyone. If you feel that connection, then you want to participate and donate to support every Jewish organization.”

These awards are given annually to a JFO volunteer, under the age of 45, who demonstrates personal commitment, dedicated involvement and exemplary leadership skills on behalf of the Jewish and general community.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha Annual Meeting, held in June each year, is one of the community’s most celebratory evenings and a yearly reminder of the power and impact of community service and volunteerism. Please join us on Monday, June 1 at 7 p.m. in the JCC Theater. A dessert reception will immediately follow the event, and the entire community is invited to attend.