Federation touts successes, looks to future

New Jewish Federation Board Chair Harvey Wallace speaks during Federation’s 114th annual meeting on Sept. 3. 

By Margaret Gillerman, Special to the Jewish Light

Leadership of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, at the agency’s 114th annual meeting Sept. 3, cited two signature achievements in the past year: completing the first demographic study of the Jewish community in 20 years, and integrating the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE) into the Federation.

Andrew Rehfeld, Federation president and CEO, said the 2014 Community Study “provided the first statistical portrait of the St. Louis Jewish community since 1995, critical for our community planning and needs assessment work.”

The study, among its findings, showed that the number of Jews here is stable or growing slightly but that the number of non-Jews in Jewish households due to intermarriage has grown significantly; about 90,000 people are part of the local Jewish community, either because they are Jewish or living in a household with a Jewish adult; more Jews are living at or near the poverty line; and  more seniors are isolated and need help.

The merger of CAJE into the Federation is providing more resources and opportunities for expanded Jewish learning, Rehfeld said.

Among other accomplishments of the past cited by the Federation:

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•  PJ Library for children has grown to more than 1,300 active subscribers.

• The Federation invested in RAVE, an communications system to alert the community to  danger and emergencies through centralized text,  email and phone notifications.

• The Concierge program launched a Chai St. Louis program to welcome new members to the community.

• Leadership training increased through the Wexner Heritage Fellows program.

• NORC, the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community,celebrated its 10th year helping seniors age in place.

•  The SH’MA: Listen! Speakers Series was started to educate people about Israel and other topics.

Patty F. Croughan, outgoing board chair, and her successor Henry N. Wallace, discussed some of the challenges of the coming year.

Croughan said: “Federation’s vision for St. Louis to meaningfully engage the next generation; to reach and inspire those who feel little connection; to welcome the intermarried; to include our gay, lesbian and trans members; to reach and provide care to isolated seniors while we continue to support our schools, synagogues and agencies — our vision is a widely ambitious one. It is also an exciting one.”

Wallace said that his goals during his two-year term that began this week “are to continue the work that was begun over the last decade transforming Federation into a community building organization, one whose mission is not simply to fundraise but rather, as (Rehfeld) earlier described, one in which we fundraise in order to build and strengthen our community.”

Wallace praised the “holy work” of the many organizations serving the Jewish community — from feeding the hungry to ensuring high-quality Jewish education — and said the Federation needs to be the foundation for all.

Four awards were handed out at the meeting:

• The David N. and Roselin Grosberg Young Leadership Award, to Andrea Newstead, technology coordinator at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School and a former teacher with a host of Jewish community leadership and volunteer projects; and to Steve Malter, associate dean and director for the undergraduate program at the Olin School of Business, Washington University, co-founder and leader of the Israel Summer Business Academy and board member of Jewish organizations.

• The Fred A. Goldstein Professional Leadership Award, Joan Denison, executive director of Covenant Place, who is responsible for marketing and management of three properties housing more than 400 older adults. She also oversees Community Housing Management Corp.

• The RubinBrown Corporate Leadership Award, exemplifying philanthropic leadership, to Delmar Gardens.