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Campaign launches with focus on global change
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Campaign launches with focus on global change

The Jewish people’s role in a world undergoing upheaval will be the theme as the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks launches its 2012 campaign.

Jerry Silverman, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, will be one of two featured speakers at the Annual Campaign Kick-off Dinner, to be held Sunday, Oct. 23, at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville.

Also speaking will be Micah Halpern, an educator, theologian, and historian who heads the Jerusalem Center for European Study.

“I will talk about the possibilities of the Jewish communities and the importance of understanding change,” said Silverman. “Whether it be the way we communicate, the technological advances, the way communities communicate with one another make it a totally different environment today. How are we engaging young adults differently than the way we did 10 or 15 years ago?

“The question isn’t just about tweeting or social networking,” Silverman told NJJN in a Sept. 19 phone conversation. “Those are tools. The question is how we shift our thinking about the changes going on around us.”

Silverman will speak before the dinner at a briefing for major donors and community leaders, then again after the meal, presenting “the case for giving.”

For that presentation, he said, he will ask the assembled guests: “How are we getting the message out? To me, it’s about shared experiences and really telling stories about what is happening on the front lines that are so compelling about how our dollars are working for us and making a difference in peoples’ lives,” Silverman said. “There is amazing work going on that people in many communities aren’t aware of.”

‘Touch more lives’

Halpern, who splits his time between Israel and New York, said at the kick-off event he will emphasize the “importance of building” as a Jewish value.

“The Jewish people are builders, whereas other cultures in the world are destroyers,” he told NJJN in a Sept. 14 phone interview.

“When you see the Arab Spring, you don’t see great messages of building; you see destruction. Overthrowing dictators is a good thing to do, but that is not what is happening in the Arab world.”

Andrew Frank, executive director of the federation, calls the dinner the organization’s “biggest event of the year.”

“We have great hopes” for its success, he said. “We are looking forward to this as an educational event as well as an event that is fun to be at.”

The federation’s general campaign chair, Karen Anderson of Lawrenceville, told NJJN she hopes the event will draw over 200 guests.

“I want to get some pizzazz into the campaign, and I want people to feel as good and as engaged as I am in the process,” she said. “We are raising funds because there is a real need in the community, and I am working hard to make sure the word gets out.”

Andrea Silverstein of Princeton is the federation’s Women’s Philanthropy campaign chair and cochair of the dinner.

The event is “the first time this community comes together for the season, and it is an opportunity to ensure everybody becomes motivated and inspired to give and be advocates,” she said.

The annual federation campaign funds education and social services in the local Jewish community, as well as programs in Israel and other parts of the Jewish world.

“With everything going on in the Jewish community, both locally and in Israel, the needs are greater than ever,” wrote PMB federation president Mark Merkovitz in an e-mail.

“It’s essential that our community stand together to support the important and necessary work that our federation does on behalf of our community.

“As we say at the federation, ‘no dollar touches more lives,’ and we want to be able to touch even more lives than we have in previous years,” he said.

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