by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha
The Jewish Federation of Omaha Board of Directors announced late last month that Bruce Friedlander has been selected president-elect of the Jewish Federation of Omaha for a three-year term.
Friedlander will succeed Board president Jay Noddle following the Federation Annual Meeting in June, 2016.
Friedlander currently serves on the JFO Board of Directors and as a volunteer on several committees, most recently on the search committee that recommended Alan Potash as chief executive officer. He was on the Beth El Synagogue Board for ten years and served as President from 1994-96.
Leadership succession is one of the more important tasks of a non-profit board of directors, and President Jay Noddle said this of Friedlander, “Bruce is fabulous and will make a terrific leader of the Jewish Federation of Omaha going forward. I couldn’t be more pleased to work with Bruce over the years and look forward to continuing to do so through this transition and into the future. If you were to write the definition of Jewish Federation leadership, next to it would be a photo of Bruce.”
In speaking to Friedlander about his newest role, it was obvious he loves this community; his earnestness and sincerity shone through the entire conversation. “We are so lucky to have what we have,” he said. There was never a question he would serve. “When times are tough, and sometimes they are, we know how to band together and get things done. We all have a singular mission and, at the end of the day, we all stick together to do what’s right and best for our Jewish community.”
“Since my nomination, community members have responded in various ways. Some said, ‘Mazel tov’; some said, ‘Thank you.’ And some said, ‘Why?’ The question is the easiest to respond to. Our fabulous community is made up of about 6,000 Jewish people inside the greater Omaha area of one million people. So the answer to the why question is easy. There are 6,000 reasons why I said yes.”
Friedlander has a long business resume in the food services industry (he calls himself a retail grocer) and, by training, customer service is paramount. “You find out what people want and you deliver it to them.” He intends to apply this successful business approach to his presidency.
“I’ve been trained to count cars in a parking lot. Seeing more cars in a parking lot generally correlates to why the store is busy. My goal for the Jewish Federation, for our agencies, for all our Jewish institutions is to have full parking lots.”
He was recognized as the JFO Volunteer of the Year in both 2009 and 2015. CEO Alan Potash described Friedlander as a long-time leader in our community. “He is devoted to Jewish Omaha and also has a strong connection to Israel. I had the pleasure of seeing his connection first hand when we were on a partnership mission together. I will look forward to partnering with him as we address the needs of our community.”
As chair of the Budget and Financial Review Committee last year, Friedlander also worked closely with CFO Jordana Glazer. He devoted countless hours to the process of budgeting and allocating resources for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
Glazer said Bruce has shown consistent leadership. “Together, we worked on some important budgetary and financial initiatives that will set a foundation for the future. Not only is Bruce intelligent and really knowledgeable about budgetary matters, he is really fun to work with.” Glazer continues, “He combines business acumen with love for community and volunteering.”
There’s no question Friedlander has his priorities straight. He said, “I know that what we value most is each other.”