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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Dynamic duo chairing Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign hope to raise $9 million-plus

Galia+Movitz+and+Janie+Roodman+Weiss
Galia Movitz and Janie Roodman Weiss

If anyone, or in this case, any two, are up to the challenge of asking members of the St. Louis Jewish community to donate to Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign, it’s Galia Movitz and Janie Roodman Weiss, who are this year’s co-chairs. Together they make a formidable fundraising team; neither likes taking “no” for an answer.

“I’ve never been so excited about an ask for community work like I am this one,” said Movitz. “What triggered me, honestly, was the Israel Emergency Campaign. I realized I’ve never seen our community as united as they were for the Israel Emergency Campaign, which told me there is room for supporting Federation’s campaign because the work they do is so vital, especially with what is going on in today’s world.”

According to Federation, the St. Louis Jewish community raised over $4.3 million for the organization’s Israel Emergency Campaign after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and over $7.3 million across Federations’ individual, family and corporate giving. That was on top of the $8.76 million that Federation’s Annual Campaign garnered in 2023 — up from $8.5 million in 2022.

Over the course of the year, Movitz and Roodman Weiss are hoping to raise more than $9 million to help the 85 or so Jewish agencies across St. Louis, Israel and around the world that Jewish Federation of St. Louis works to support and enhance. These include local Jewish agencies that strive to better early childhood education, champion mental health initiatives, combat antisemitism, end food insecurity, assist older adults and much more. 

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“During COVID, the campaign slid backwards. And unfortunately, when that happened, the needs in our community weren’t being met fully,” said Roodman Weiss. “And so, for Galia and me, the challenge is that we want to bring it back and beyond, so that we are sure those needs in our community will be met because we don’t want to see any agencies suffer or any people struggle.”

In addition, the pair hopes to increase the number of donors who give to the campaign, which was roughly 3,000 in 2023. 

In an effort to accomplish all of this, Movitz and Roodman Weiss have come up with several strategies, including building a “cabinet” of key volunteers who can mobilize different groups of potential donors and inspire them to give generously. They also plan to bolster this cabinet by meeting in small groups with other volunteers who will help in soliciting. And instead of being called “development volunteers,” as they have been referred to in the past, Movitz and Roodman Weiss have renamed them “mitzvah makers” because “they are the ones making the mitzvahs,” said Movitz, adding that at every meeting there are candy M&Ms on the table.

“We felt like we wanted to make it more fun as well as more meaningful,” said Roodman Weiss. “Doing a mitzvah yourself is good but helping someone else, giving them the opportunity to do a mitzvah, is a greater deed.”

She and Movitz also want to bring more people into the Federation building, for speakers and social events, in an effort to create more of a hub for Jewish life and camaraderie among the Jewish community. They also want to appeal to donors who used to give to the Annual Campaign but haven’t done so in the past few years, to understand the reasons why not.

“Those reasons are legit. We need to understand them. We don’t want to call people only to collect money,” said Movitz. “We also want to call to say ‘thank you’ for what they have done for our community. We want everyone to feel appreciated.”

As to why the two volunteered to co-chair the Annual Campaign, Movitz repeats what Toby Warticovschi, vice chair of development for Federation’s board of directors, has said in the past: “If we don’t take care of our Jewish community, no one else will.”

That sentiment resonates deeply with Movitz and Roodman Weiss, who have worked together in the past, co-chairing Women’s Philanthropy events for Federation as well as the Jewish Light’s Unsung Heroes awards and several other Jewish community causes. They fed off each other’s energy and spirit as they discussed their plans and strategies for the year-long campaign, including educating community members about what Federation does and its importance.

“If Federation wasn’t here to convene the community and to raise dollars, a lot of the services they provide would not be here,” said Roodman Weiss. “Supporting Federation and all they do isn’t a choice, it’s a must. Charity is different than tzedakah. It is our obligation to help our community and make sure it thrives and to make sure people in our community have their needs met.”

Larry Gast, vice president of development at Federation, feels confident that with Movitz and Roodman Weiss at the helm, the Annual Campaign is in great hands.

“They’ve both exhibited, individually and collectively, a commitment to our Jewish community through their involvement and leadership roles with so many different organizations, including Federation,” said Gast. “Both of them are passionate about what Federation does, the many people and agencies it helps. Between their passion, motivation and drive, and the fact that our Jewish community is so generous and committed, I think we have a great shot at securing our goals.”

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