The Foundation of our Foundation

A tremendous Fundfest took place this past week. Despite some tough weather, hundreds came to the Federation offices to get on the phones to reach out and connect with other fellow community members to ask for their support of our 2015 Campaign.  Fundfest has propelled our campaign to $6 Million and added many new donors to our communal endeavor.  Thank you to every volunteer.  Thank you to every donor.  Thank you to our staff who worked hours well beyond the norm (and our norm is not normal).

I was in Florida for part of this week participating in the Jewish Federations of North America Board meeting and visiting some of our snowbird donors.  Every single donor I met with was interested in learning how our Federation is doing.  They wanted to know about the campaign (which is doing well), about how we are doing in engaging young adults (tomorrow night is our big Young Adult Campaign Event-The Main Event), about the money we secure through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program for our Jewish Day Schools and preschools (now at a record $4.7 Million) and about the planning we are doing for the Pittsburgh Jewish community of the future.  And every individual made sure to ask about our Foundation.

I was able to report that our Foundation is doing extremely well.  With assets of over $210 Million and over 1,000 individual funds, donors continue to invest their philanthropic dollars with us.  Our investment return continues to be extremely strong while maintaining a portfolio with lower risk.  As I was sharing all this positive news about the Foundation this week, I learned of the passing of Art Jaffe, the first Foundation Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh (then called the UJF).

I only met Art a handful of times.  Those who knew him well described Art’s visionary leadership and “mentschiness”.  While he only served as our Foundation Director for our Federation for about 5 years in the 1980’s (he went on to be the first Foundation Director of the South Palm Beach Federation), the fact that he was here and got things organized and started with a committed group of volunteers is part of the reason we are where we are today.  In essence, Art built the “foundation” of our Foundation.

Baruch Dayan Ha-emet.  May the name of Art Jaffe be forever as a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom.

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