By Michael Jacobs / mjacobs@atljewishtimes.com

Federation will condense next year’s annual campaign into an intense four months to create more energy and excitement and free up fundraisers to spend more quality time with donors throughout the year, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Chairman Howard Feinsand said during the organization’s annual meeting Tuesday, June 9.

The annual campaign, now being chaired by Betty Sunshine, needs to be reinvigorated because unrestricted giving has grown little in recent years, and Federation lost more major donors than it gained in 2014-15, Feinsand said.

“We’ve succeeded in moving the needle in many ways,” he said, but the stagnant unrestricted giving has limited Federation’s ability to address needs identified by the community and advance the organization’s mission.

Feinsand said fundraising did increase markedly during the year because of donations to Federation’s priorities for Jewish continuity: Jewish camp attendance, Birthright Israel and the PJ Library.

Federation President and CEO Michael Horowitz said the final fundraising total for 2014-15 is expected to be just under $20 million. That figure includes more than $15 million for the unrestricted annual campaign and the three stated priorities, plus donations for such purposes as disability awareness and inclusion, the Gaza war emergency fund, the Ukraine crisis fund, solidarity with the French Jewish community and unrestricted endowments.

Federation also collected about $25 million for donor-advised funds and received earnings on an investment portfolio topping $200 million.

Among the year’s highlights Horowitz cited:

  • Federation’s first community mission in almost a decade took 230 people to Israel, more than 100 of whom had never visited Israel.
  • Federation responded to an evaluation of overseas responsibilities by launching programs to increase Jewish travel from Atlanta to Israel and other nations.
  • More than 700 Atlantans are going on Birthright this year, including 120 on Federation’s own trips.
  • More than 300 kids are going to Jewish camp for the first time, including 33 with disabilities.
  • Federation launched the Jewish Abilities website at atlanta.jewishabilities.org.
  • Lori Kagan Schwarz and Temple Rabbi Peter Berg have agreed to chair a committee examining how to engage teens in Jewish life after they become b’nai mitzvah.

“Each one of us experiences Federation in a different way with different priorities,” Feinsand said, and one of the organization’s ongoing priorities is do a better job of telling the stories of donors’ impact.

Rachael Carp Rosenberg served as an example of telling Federation’s story when she told how the organization has been a part of her life since she moved to Atlanta from the North Carolina mountains 58 years ago.

“Our commitment, and what we received from Federation in return, has changed our lives,” Rosenberg said.

Most important are the programs and support Federation, working with agencies such as Jewish Family & Career Services and the Marcus Jewish Community Center, has provided to help Rosenberg’s youngest child, Marla, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 5 in 1972 and was left wheelchair-bound.

At 48, Marla lives independently and is herself an active community volunteer, Rosenberg said. “Marla lives a true Jewish Life, attends services, keeps a kosher-style home and enjoys all holidays.”

Rosenberg spoke after Federation handed out four awards:

  • Abe Schwartz Young Leadership Award, Abbey Flaum and Erica Gal.
  • Gerald H. Cohen Community Development Award, Erica Katz.
  • Mary & Max London People Power Award, Jodi Mansbach and Eric Robbins of Limmud Atlanta + Southeast.
  • Marilyn Shubin Professional Staff Development Award, Jewish Home Life Communities Chief Financial Officer Neelam Rahatekar.

Federation also is developing a new generation of lay leaders with the help of the Joyce and Ramie Tritt Family Foundation Leadership Institute, Feinsand said. Learning to develop a shared vision and a communal agenda in the institute’s first class are Lauren Abes, Ted Blum, Steve Cadranel, Michael Kogon, Debbie Kuniansky, Robert Leven, Mark Satisky, Lori Kagan Schwarz, Mark Stern, Jordan Tritt and Nancy Weissmann.