Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo is guided by the core values of Judaism: “Tzedakah” (justice, charity and righteousness); “Tikkun Olam” (restoring the world) and “Gemulit Chassidim” (acts of loving-kindness). It is our mission to support and enhance the health, welfare, education, spiritual life, unity and continuity of the Jewish community of Toledo, the surrounding areas and Klal Yisrael, the world community of Israel, with services and programming consistent with Jewish values.
Our vision is one of unity of the entire Jewish people, inspiring a dynamic partnership with a family of congregations, agencies, organizations and individuals locally and throughout the world.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo has appointed Joel Marcovitch as its new Chief Executive Officer. The appointment follows a national search conducted in collaboration with The Jewish Federations of North America Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence. Marcovitch and his wife Erin will joined the Toledo community and its Federation this month.
Marcovitch has worked for nearly a decade at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life on several different campuses, including University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Most recently, he served as Hillel director at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Federation President Elliot Feit said, "We welcome Joel to the Toledo Jewish community as CEO. He brings tremendous vision and energy to the position. I’m certain he will build on the accomplishments of the Federation and lead us to even greater success.”
Born and raised in London, England, Marcovitch studied higher education at University of Salford in Manchester, England, and has gone on to lecture on Jewish community, Jewish identity and the direction of the next generation of young Jews. He is a veteran of Birthright Israel where he was an informal Jewish educator, participating in some 15 Birthright trips and 25 additional trips to Israel.
“My passion is to make Jewish life and being Jewish relevant to as many Jews as possible,” Marcovitch said. He has led trips to poor Jewish communities in Ukraine, Argentina and Brazil, where Jewish college students spent their spring breaks helping attend to the needs of these struggling communities.
Dick Greenblatt, chair of the search committee, added, "I am excited to have Joel and his wife, Erin, join our community. He brings boundless enthusiasm, a deep love of Judaism and Jewish culture, and an obvious desire to lead us into the future."
Good evening everyone. I want you to take a journey with me to the future.
Welcome to our 113th annual meeting! The year is 2020.
I am so pleased that this is my seventh year here. Wow what an amazing year it has been. In fact, it’s been quite a ride since I joined the Federation family back in 2013!
It's so nice to see you all tonight. I hope your holographic text message of my smiling face reminding you about tonight was okay. We went against the idea of simultaneously beaming a member of staff into your living room announcing tonight’s meeting. What with President Michael Bell’s new privacy law passed by congress a few weeks ago, we felt that it wasn’t a wise move. And to think he was once Mayor here!
I would like to thank the Kosher Shorty’s Restaurant and Grill for the wonderful catering. Those kosher ribs were sensational. It's great that Shlomo’s kosher butcher next to Panera on Central helped with supplying the meat free of charge for tonight.
Wasn't the Hebrew school choir wonderful? Your rendition of all the verses of Ma-o-tzur was worthy of appearance on the finest stages of Broadway. I hope all 250 of you learn Dayenu in time for our Passover 2000 Seder. WOW, 2,000 community members attending one Seder is tough enough. Lynn at The Temple is already nervous about making 4,000 matzah balls! Don't worry Lynn, if there is anyone that can do it, I know it's you.
The food at The Temple and the welcome by Rabbi Sam has always been heartfelt and wonderful. Something I know my wife and I enjoyed very much in our first year here. We remember being waiters at The Beirut for the evening, at a fundraising event. I think it was on June 30, 2013?
But anyway we had a great time. I promise I didn’t mean to spill hummus all over Elliot. I hope he has forgiven me.
Thank you so much for bringing multiple items for our food bank with you tonight. Because of you, we have the ability to help any family in our area anytime with anything they need. The new Food Bank attached to the Sekach building looks like a small supermarket that also allows people to spend their food stamps, on heavily subsidized fresh food to give better nutrition to under privileged kids. Better food makes better students. What an amazing use of a bequest by the Weinbergsteingoldvitch family.
It's amazing what unrestricted giving can do. Just think, seven years ago, when I joined the Federation family, only 6% of our Foundation was unrestricted, making it harder to respond to the community’s needs, and now in 2020, we are at 50% which empowers us to make decisions based on the real needs of the community in real time. We are proud to be the guardians of the community, and just as I said on my first Annual Meeting speech back in 2013, we are committed that we will always maximize the impact of your donation.
With your continued support the Federation can be there to respond in full to the community’s needs, funding excellence and caring for all.
It's been amazing to see the 200 new families that have moved to Toledo since I started. Some have moved back from the unfriendly big city to be part of our warm and welcoming community. Welcoming people with open arms has always been a source of pride to the Toledo Jewish community, long before I got here.
I have to say that the vision of the Foundation to take $3 million and put it into an interest free Hebrew business loan program to help Jewish entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground and then pay back the initial loan, in installments to help pay it forward to the next great Jewish business ideas in Toledo, is simply amazing.
Just think that the business started due to the Foundation’s seed money is now responsible for employing 75 members of our Jewish community, and as we fund more businesses, more jobs will become available.
Not only is there the free loan aspect, the program has an amazing free business mentorship part. The mentors are our wonderful business leaders, who volunteer their time to help provide their unique knowledge from their years of experience and help these fledgling businesses every step of the way.
Many people that have joined our Jewish community have shared with me that the personal boutique approach was a major factor in their decision to move their families’ futures to Toledo.
The resources, community welcome, programming and support were way better here than anywhere else they had looked at to move to.
Just like the earliest Jews who came to Toledo, planning for the future is in our blood.
The free Jewish day care for newborns to two-year-olds has just graduated its fifth class. Ah, another excuse for a graduation ceremony. You Americans!
But, providing free daycare has helped take that huge financial burden off of families. That's about a $12,000 saving per child, per year. That money can be used to help secure their long term financial future and maybe one day pay for their kids’ college.
It has been amazing to see these parents donating significantly to the annual campaign, as they don’t have to pay for daycare. They have seen the value and relevancy that the Federation has done for them, and they are giving back. Older members of the community are also giving more to the campaign, as they can see that the future for the community is brighter than ever.
We now have more Lions than ever before! Just like I thought way back when I started, I know why they call a group of lions a pride.
It's nice to see the community Eruv up and running. It only took three years! But, it has attracted a whole new membership of young families to Etz Chayim. Rabbi Bienenfeld just told me that he is so busy with baby naming ceremonies, Brits, bar mitzvahs and weddings, that Etz may hire a junior Rabbi to keep up with demand. His seven kids deserve to see him once in a while.
I still have the old Israeli flag that I bought at my first rummage sale. It still hangs with pride on my office wall. I have bought so much Judaica at the rummage sale these past years. I think I have a menorah for everyone in this room! What an amazing project!
The not so new Rabbi at B’nai Israel has been doing great for a number of years now. Cantor Lichterman and I still have our jokes about who has the best accent. We all know that the Queen’s English is much better.
B’nai’s 150th year celebrations a few years ago are still being spoken about today! What an amazing time for B’nai and for our entire community. It was so great to see everyone volunteering and financially supporting the activities over that year. The founding members would have been proud to see the whole of the Toledo Jewish community support B’nai at such a special time.
As Gan Yeladim Preschool has grown, thanks to being fully funded by Federation and the incredible hard work by Raizel, some of our first class in 2011 will now be thinking about college soon. We hope they choose UT, as we have helped add another floor to our Hillel, complete with gym and a full kosher meal program. Elizabeth has told me that the food is so good, hundreds of UT students stop past the Hillel and eat every day. They feel that Hillel has always been their home away from home.
I am thrilled we are taking two full buses of UT students to Israel on Birthright. Having led a bunch of trips myself, I can honestly say that Federation’s allocation to the national Birthright organization is well worth it. They even go and see our Partnership city as part of the trip. The new hospital, in Akko named, Toledo katan, ‘little Toledo’ was built by your campaign gifts and was named after us, and it continues to be a teaching institution of excellence. We are so happy to be in our second year of our exchange program with them where we send doctors from the hospitals here in Toledo to do rotations and learn new cutting edge medical techniques and at the same time, we host doctors from Israel who are working in Toledo hospitals training their American colleagues. We are also partnering with our Jewish community medical professionals who have welcomed their Israeli counterparts into their homes. The environment of learning here in Toledo is showing other communities how effective Partnership programming can help advocate for Israel. This is just another thing to add to what our partnership program has given us and proof that your campaign dollars really do make a difference.
I could go on and on, but I will conclude this part of my talk with this: as I travel around the country, people ask me how the hell is Toledo growing when other small communities are shrinking? I have always said the same thing. Our community and especially our leadership took a stand seven years ago, and we dared ourselves to be remarkable. They took calculated risks that no one else was prepared to do and hit a nerve of relevancy that was badly needed in the Jewish world. Toledo’s success story is now the model of how to take care of a Jewish community for the rest of the country.
After I leave this podium, many people will tell me, "Nice speech Joel but those ideas just can’t be done. We need to take care of the people we have left and let our community run its course."
To that I will say, "Not on my watch." I will not let us fade quietly into the night. My wife and I did not come here to be the last people here, turn off the lights and lock up the building. As a community, we need to dream big and then dream bigger. We owe it to ourselves and to our children and grandchildren that we re-think, re-work and start to re-grow what I know we are capable of reaching. I came here not because the job was easy, it’s not; I came because it is hard, but I know all of us in this room and beyond can make a difference for our future.
It can’t be done without you. Unrestricted campaign gifts, legacy and bequesting, are all essential pieces to the puzzle. However showing up and volunteering at events and being on boards no matter what your giving level, is just as important.
Just like the trees we planted in Israel for our wonderful volunteer leadership and the oak trees we gave to them tonight. We plant them not for us but for our future generations. It’s time that the Toledo Jewish community moves on from the painful closings of institutions and the loss of programs. We need to unite and look forward together to build a brighter future filled with optimism and hope. Let us find new roots to make us strong, new shade to provide us comfort and let this message stand as a testament to our time now and for our collective future.
Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo
6465 Sylvania Avenue
Sylvania, Ohio 43560
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