Home Federation JCFR Annual Meeting celebrates and honors Amy Nisenson

JCFR Annual Meeting celebrates and honors Amy Nisenson

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Josh Goldberg, Amy Nisenson and Daniel Staffenberg. All photos by Adrienne Winkelmann Epstein,

The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond welcomed more than 180 community members to our 89th Annual Meeting where Amy Nisenson was celebrated and honored for her leadership over the last two years.

The gathering on June 5th at the Virginia Holocaust Museum also welcomed new leadership, including JCFR President Josh Goldberg, honored Hedy Lapkin with the Neil November Distinguished Community Service Award, recognized Jill Goldfine with a Special President’s Award and thanked Sara Rosenbaum for 20 years of service to the JCFR.

One after one, speakers singled out a milestone – the JCFR raising for than $6 million during the past year – $3.1 million for the Annual Campaign, $2.2 million for the Israel Emergency Campaign and approximately $700,000 in supplemental gifts.

Former Federation President Nannette Shor, who chaired the event with her husband, Nathan, and Jill and Howard Goldfine, welcomed attendees.

In her remarks, she noted, “To my friend Amy Nisenson, mazel tov  on a job well done as our president for the past two years. At the beginning of your term, I said to you, every president has their ‘thing’ they must handle, over and above the normal responsibilities.”

Nannette continued, “Who knew your ‘thing’ would be so devastating and life-changing? You led us with grace and determination as our community mourned. Thank you for guiding us through this most horrific time, leading our community to support Israel in spirit, financially, and in person so we could show our fiends and family, that Richmond stands with Israel.”

Howard Goldfine said, “It is precisely at our most challenging times the Federation system is here, ready to mobilize and galvanize the Jewish Community to effectively respond to communal needs.”

In recognizing her friend for 40 years, Jill Goldfine added, “To see how beautifully you led us through challenges, so many of which were unforeseen, speaks so much to your leadership and your passion for our Jewish community here in Richmond, Israel and across the globe,”

Former President Nathan Shor continued, “Every year we face a challenge, but no challenge is greater than the one we faced over 240 days ago and still face today. As a community, we stood up and we were heard.”

In her State of the Federation remarks, Amy Nisenson reviewed the past two years, recognizing many individuals.

 

“We accomplished much together.”

She recounted her recent Volunteer Mission to Israel where she met with Israelis whose lives had changed dramatically after Oct. 7, hearing their personal stories and volunteering with others to pick tomatoes and cucumbers to help out a local farmer.

Amy also shared about her visit to Poland in 2022 near the Ukraine border where she met Jewish refugees who would soon make Aliyah to Israel. Several days later, in Israel she met other displaced refugees who were being assisted in their new home by the Jewish Agency, JDC and JFNA and others.

“This made me proud of the work with were doing … and how the refugees were being treated with care.”

She pointed out Richmond had welcomed over 30 Ukrainian families with JFS assistance who had fled Ukraine at the start of the war with Russia.

“We bonded together as Jews.”

Amy reviewed many developments and accomplishments to build relationships in the community and to combat antisemitism in particular,

She said the Dignity Grows initiative with “its growth and impact were very satisfying.”

Amy recognized board members who were rolling off the Board – Ellen Renee Adams, Howard Goldfine, Helen Griffin and Melissa Zinder.

She also recognized Incoming President Josh Goldberg. “Your generosity, dedication and leadership with the Federation, RTA and Israel are so much appreciated. I know you will do a great job.”

Amy presented a Special President’s Award to Jill Goldfine, who has the chaired Woman’s Philanthropy for a number of years.

 

“She was my first new friend I met 40 years ago.

Nannette Shor presented the Neil November Distinguished Community Service Award to her mother, Hedy Lapkin, for her 65 years of service to the Richmond Jewish Community.

A special tribute was given to Amy by Daniel Staffenberg while a slide show was shown noting many accomplishments over her past two years.

“Amy, you continued the outstanding legacy of past JCFR presidents while also continuing your personal and professional agendas,” Daniel said.

He noted there were many intense and challenger moments during the past two years.

“You were always there! Ready to get to work. You brought a great depth of knowledge about the community, endless relationships and the importance that non-profits face.”

Your compassion for people was what has stood out over the past two years, he continued.

“You never asked about you. You wanted only the success of others.”

Daniel emphasized, “You made tons of difficult decisions. You always brought care to every task and  your leadership will be remembered for many things.”

He reviewed many including her response to Oct. 7, improving our processes, a greater focus on fundraising, moving officers and many more.

He concluded, “You have been a great ambassador and friend.”

Next, several videos from family members were shown offering congratulations and thanks for her past two years.

In reflecting on the past year, Daniel noted this was the “most challenging year of his almost 30 years in the Federation world.”

“There was no chapter in the handbook left by former Federation CEO Samuel Asher on How to Handle the Worst Attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Antisemistism has risen to levels that no one could have imagined.”

Daniel presented a special award to JCFR Chief Impact Officer Sara Rosenbaum for her 20 years of service.

 

He noted she had held a number of increasingly important positions during her tenure but singled out her long-time work staffing the Allocations Committee and work with our P2G partners in Israel.

When joining the Federation in 2018, he was strongly  encouraged by P2G leadersip to have Sara move up to be the Federation professional team leader for all the work she had been doing.

Josh Goldberg Remarks

 

In his remarks, Incoming JCFR President Josh Goldberg provided an overview of his life in Richmond. Born in Richmond, he attended pre-school for many years at the JCC, attended RTA for nine years and is a life-long member of Keneseth Beth Israel. He has spent most of his 42 years in Richmond.

He noted, “So, of course I was aware of the Federation, after all they were the largest donor to RTA until very recently. But as an adult I look back on my childhood as having grown up in my own little Jewish bubble.”

A few year’s back, “I started getting involved (with Federation) and  jumped in with both feet …:

He got involved with the Allocations Committee, the National Young Leadership Cabinet, and spent a year as a board observer for the JDC, Joint Distribution Committee. He has been a JCFR board member for several years.

‘All of those have given me a much greater understanding of the work that we do in Federation, and where the dollars we raise go. Recently, with the events of October 7th, I also co-chaired the Israel Emergency Campaign with Nannette Shor where we raised over $2.2 million. And that brings us to today.”

He shared some data from a study by JFNA on Jewish engagement that revealed that “of the 83% of Jews who were “only somewhat,” “not very” or “not at all engaged” prior to October 7th, a whopping 40% are now showing up in larger numbers in Jewish life.’

He noted, “This group — equal to 30% of all Jewish adults and nearly double the proportion of Jews who identify as “deeply-engaged” — represents the greatest opportunity for broadening and deepening Jewish life.”

He said the study reinforces that  “people are searching for that stronger Jewish connection, if for no other reason than to be with other people who understand what they’re going through and the broad range of emotions that we are all experiencing for the last 243 days. Jewish day school enrollment is up, Jewish camp attendance is up, Synagogue membership is up.”

He called for community collaboration to help meet the needs.

“Every agency and synagogue has a role to play, and by working together we can better assure that everyone has access to the level of engagement that they are looking for, and ensure that the gaps that are missing are filled in.”

He added, “Collaboration also means each of you reaching out to a few people who may not be here tonight and inviting them to be more engaged.”

He concluded, “Over the next two years. Let’s have those conversations about what we could be. Let’s start to think long term with big aspirational goals. Let’s dream of what could be. We might not get everything we talk about, but I would bet that if we try and get there, we will end off better for it.”

“I am honored to be the next President of Federation. There are many worthy candidates who could serve in this role, so I am truly honored to be chosen.”

Installation of Officers/Board

Immediate Past President Ellen Renee Adams gave the Nominating Committee’s report and installed the officers and board members for the next year, including Josh Goldberg as President.

The other officers are: Vice President – Shelley Gouldin; Secretary/Treasurer – Matt Grossman; Allocations Chair – David Galpern; FRD Chair – Brian Greene; JCRC Chair – Rob Slotnick; Rabbinic Council Representative – Rabbi Sherry Grinsteiner; Immediate Past President – Amy Nisenson and JCFR CEO – Daniel Staffenberg. New board members installed: Lisa Looney, Shlomo Skaist and Jim Weinberg.

For more photos from the Annual Meeting, click the following:

JCFR Annual Meeting Photos