This past week, I had the experience of being surrounded by women who are inspired to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I traveled to Washington, DC with a group of 20 women from our community to be a part of the International Lion of Judah Conference, which convenes more than 1,300 women who are significant supporters of the Federation Annual Campaign in their community. The conference, co-chaired by Shelly Kupfer (daughter-in-law of former Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Chairs Barbara and David Burstin) raised a record-breaking $31 million from Jewish women in North America and Israel.
We heard from a truly impressive roster of speakers – political all-stars with fascinating insights into this election season, including Madeline Albright, Nicole Wallace, and a group of women who serve in Congress. They talked about how they support one another across party lines, and fight for equality for women and girls in our country. They encouraged more women to run for public office and not to wait until they feel more prepared.
Inspiring women at the highest levels of industry and philanthropy – Lieutenant Commander Alexa Jenkins (currently serving as the Commanding Officer for USS Tornado) is the first woman to command a ship in the United States Navy – and she is Jewish! Alexa told us that, when she marches in parades, she will march for miles in a skirt and heels, so every little girl watching knows that she is a woman, that she is in charge, and that they can be too someday.
Strong women who have suffered unimaginable tragedy and persevered, including Bat-Galim Shaer, whose son, Gilad, was one of the three Israeli teens murdered in 2014. Bat-Galim spoke about how, despite this unspeakable tragedy, she moves forward every day to provide an example to her five daughters.
I was most inspired by the Pittsburgh women I traveled with. These women understand the importance of being a part of something bigger than themselves. They set an example for the women and girls in their lives – including me. They work tirelessly to make our world a better place – through their commitment to the Federation’s Annual Campaign, through their work as volunteers and through their unfailing support of one another. We have a truly exceptional Lion of Judah community here in Pittsburgh, and I was proud to join them to represent our city. Please consider joining this wonderful community in the future.