ORT America’s regional director in Atlanta, Jay Tenenbaum, resigned in March to take over fundraising for Jewish Family Services in Broward County, Fla.
The Atlanta native’s family has lived here since 1905, and he has been involved with such communal organizations as American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS young professional group and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. His professional positions have included regional director of Jewish National Fund and development director of Jewish Family & Career Services.
Tenenbaum co-founded Havinagala, the main fundraiser for the PAL program at JF&CS, and the annual JF&CS Community of Caring Luncheon, being held for the 11th time Friday, April 28. At JNF, he launched the Jack Hirsch Memorial Breakfast, being held for the 14th time Tuesday, May 2.
“Leaving Atlanta has been a difficult decision for me as I am placing behind a very expansive network,” said Tenenbaum, who is married and has two children.
Before entering the nonprofit world as a professional, Tenenbaum worked in the corporate world, traveling to New York, Dallas and Philadelphia before returning to Atlanta.
“Moving to the south now saved me the trouble of moving down later once I retire, and because the position is nascent, it also creates greater prospects,” Tenenbaum said. “My father always said, ‘If you see yourself at the bottom, the only way to go is up.’ ”
In Broward County, he’ll be the first chief development officer at JFS, whose CEO is former Atlantan Jacob Schreiber, who was the editor of the AJT and the director of Hillels of Georgia.
“They are not nearly as sophisticated as Atlanta’s JF&CS,” Tenenbaum said about his new agency. “They don’t have an annual campaign and never made any efforts toward planned giving. Also, as enthusiastic as the staff is, they never had any sense of direction or focus. I’m coming in as a stranger, and that also makes it difficult to ask people for money. In Atlanta, you can reach out to everyone as a potential donor, but in Broward I am starting afresh and will have to create new relationships.”
To replace Tenenbaum in Atlanta, ORT America is conducting a national search in partnership with board members, who will make the decision. ORT seeks someone with fundraising experience and a focus on major gifts but is open to a lay leader who has chaired annual campaigns and is enthusiastic about continuing to raise ORT’s local profile.
“ORT still has so much potential in Atlanta, particularly because the mission of providing an education to Jewish youth resonates with so many people,” Tenenbaum said.
He suggested a 2 percent solution to finance Jewish education in general.
While visiting an ORT school in Mexico City, Tenenbaum noticed that of 10,000 Jewish students, 8,000 were receiving a Jewish education, regardless of whether they could afford it. Tenenbaum said that if all Jewish community members gave 2 percent of their income, enough money would be raised to pay for every Jewish child to attend a Jewish day school.
“For some, this does not mean much, but for others it may lead to a tremendous investment,” he said.