Update from Marty Ricks

Nights finally cooling down, Husker football in the news (good or bad), nine-month hiatus for the JCC Goldstein Family Aquatic Center, High Holy Days upon us, and the kickoff for the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign to be held at Temple Israel is in sixteen days. I hope you have signed up to attend.

For all our Federation agencies, fundraising efforts are put on hold until the Annual Campaign has ended. This is the guideline traditionally followed by the 146 Jewish Federations in North America. By giving to the Annual Campaign, not only are you powering the individual agencies that mean so much to you, you are also helping us care for each other (locally and abroad), educate and engage our community, invest in our youth, and plan for the future.

This transition to the Annual Campaign also means the Community Security Initiative fundraising appeal that we have been working on for the last six weeks must be put aside for four to five months. Our second and final ad for this year is on the back page of this week’s Jewish Press. Consider making a commitment if you can, but know it is of primary importance that we have a successful 2023 Annual Campaign. It is of special importance this year that we increase the amount raised over last year since we are experiencing almost double-digit inflation in 2022.

Phil, Jan and I, along with the Federation Board led by Michael Siegel would like to thank the 43 families that have contributed $133,250 to our Security Appeal so far. A special thank you to the Kooper Fellman Partnership (Howard Kooper, Tom Fellman and Larry Kelberg) for matching the first $100,000 for a total to date of $243,250, or 18.2% of our goal of $1,333,333. As noted before, if we raise an amount equal to our goal, Jewish Federations of North America will add $666,667.

On the subject of transitions, I would like to say a few words about long time Jewish community member Leon Shrago who has left Omaha this week to make Aliyah and join his daughter’s family in Israel. Until a few months ago, I only knew Leon to give Shalom greetings in passing, often at his spiritual home, Beth Israel Synagogue. However, when preparing his application to make Aliyah, he needed a reference from the Jewish community beyond his synagogue and called me asking if I would write the letter. I may not have known him that well personally, but I certainly knew of his sterling reputation in the community and gladly completed the reference letter. Soon thereafter, Leon’s application was accepted and that lead us to meeting in my office and then twice for lunch. Leon and Dani (Z”L) were pillars of Omaha’s Orthodox community and major supporters of Friedel Jewish Academy. For many years, Leon and Dani, in partnership with Leon’s brother Jack (Z”L) and Jack’s wife Helene, operated a successful chain of discount grocery stores, Bag ‘n Save, and frequently donated food where needed in the community. Leon is a renowned Jewish scholar, was a volunteer teacher at Beth Israel, and both Leon and Dani made sure that any family who wanted a strong Jewish education for their children would receive it, no matter the family’s financial situation. I am so pleased I was able get to know Leon over the last couple months. He will be greatly missed in Omaha. Shalom, Leon. Go in peace and have a long, healthy life with family in Israel!

Finally, speaking of pillars of the Jewish community, it occurred to me last week while viewing the portraits of the JFO Past Presidents across from the administrative offices that it is time we highlight each one of these community members in concert with the Jewish Press and the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society. These are 45 lay leaders who cared enough about our Jewish community to become deeply involved in this wonderful organization and lead our Board of Directors in the important work of guiding and growing the JFO for future generations. If you have stories you would like to share about them as individuals, feel free to call me on my cell phone at 402.301.4038.

My next Friday message will be after the High Holidays, so I will take this opportunity wish you all an early happy and healthy new year – Shana Tova!

Shabbat Shalom,

Marty Ricks
Fundraising Consultant