Philadelphia’s Orthodox communities and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia have always shared a strong partnership, working together on projects that ensure our mutual wellbeing. Sometimes, though, that partnership happens invisibly — as longtime Jewish Federation volunteers Lauren and George Danneman discovered when they’d chat with friends from their Orthodox Lower Merion community.
“People were surprised to hear about everything the Jewish Federation and its partner agencies do!” remembers George. “There was even a misperception that they don’t really help the Orthodox. So it made sense for us to show them that the Jewish Federation is doing vital work for the Orthodox community in particular.” And so on a rainy evening this past May, Lauren and George opened their home to more than 50 representatives of the Main Line Orthodox community and the Jewish Federation, so that all might meet, connect and learn.
Jewish Federation Board Chair Susanna Lachs Adler used the meeting as a chance to reaffirm to all assembled that the priorities of our Orthodox communities have long been priorities of the Jewish Federation. For example, she noted that our shared focus on making Jewish education affordable means that the Jewish Federation contributes mightily to day school scholarships through our Jewish Community Fund (this past year, $816,725 went to children attending Orthodox schools); gives enormous rent subsidies to the Jewish schools located on our five campuses; and offers scholarships for study in Israel, all of which are highly utilized by our Orthodox communities.
“People were so pleased to hear about how much Jewish Federation invests Orthodox education,” says George. “Everyone found it extremely meaningful.”
There are many other areas in which our work and focus overlaps. Food insecurity, for example: Orthodox families make up six percent of our Mitzvah Food Program clients; our KleinLife pantry in Northeast Philly, where Orthodox families make up seven percent of clients, makes sure to provide Glatt kosher chicken year-round purchased from Kosher Foods & More, as well as Glatt kosher beef during the holidays. We give grants to make Orthodox summer camp more affordable. We also fund Orthodox grassroots initiatives, like grants for Community Kashrus and a first-rate promotional video for the Rhawnhurst community (watch below!):
The Jewish Federation was thrilled to work with Lauren and George on such an inspiring and successful evening. As Susanna noted, “I believe I speak for all of us tonight when I say we appreciate your heartfelt commitment to klal Yisrael.” We look forward to deepening our conversations within the community.