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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future

Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future Exceeds Initial Goals; Funds Already Making an Impact as Campaign Enters Community Phase

May 5, 2011

May 5 event features speaker Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and honors CFJF Founders

With more than $14 million in commitments to date, the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future (CFJF) has exceeded its initial goal of raising $12 million in 12 months and already is funding initiatives that promote Jewish continuity in the Pittsburgh region, campaign leaders announced today at its first event to launch the Fund's Community Phase. The event featured nationally acclaimed author and speaker Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and honored CFJF Founders.

A Transformational Initiative

An endowment campaign of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, CFJF is the most significant planned giving initiative in the history of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. It is designed to support ideas and programs that advance the vital aspects of Jewish life to ensure the vibrant future of Pittsburgh's Jewish Community.  The Fund launched in 2009 with a Lead Gift in the form of a matching grant that is uniquely designed to match major contributions and advance the amount of the entire lead donation so that funds can have an immediate impact.

"The fact that 75% of Jews under the age of 30 are not affiliated with any synagogue or Jewish agency illustrates a declining sense of Jewish identity. CFJF provides immediate and ongoing funding for important activities and innovative programs to build knowledge of, and connection to our rich heritage and traditions.  Initially we are focusing in the areas of  Jewish education, Israel travel and Jewish summer camping," said David Shapira, co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh's Jewish Community Foundation. "As we now move into CFJF's Community Phase, we believe many more individuals will demonstrate a commitment to transforming our community and securing a strong Jewish future for Pittsburgh."

CFJF Funds at Work

Because CFJF is uniquely structured to support programs immediately, funds are already at work to engage Jews in the region at every life stage. Currently funded programs include:

  • One Happy Camper incentive grants to encourage families to send their children to Jewish overnight summer camp, one of the leading transmitters of Jewish tradition and identity
  • Birthright Israel, to underwrite the participation of Pittsburgh community college-aged students in educational peer-group trips to Israel, another key to building Jewish identity in youth
  • Adult Education, to provide educational opportunities for the lifelong pursuit of Jewish literacy and intellectual growth
  • J-Burgh, to underwrite Jewish programming and build a Jewish community for 20-something individuals at a time of transition in their lives, between completing college and starting their own families
  • Providing synagogues with guidance and support to better meet the needs of the families that engage with them
  • Enhancing teacher training to ensure that we have better and more inspired educators who have the tools to succeed
  • Scholarships to make programs and schools more accessible to more people
  • Jewish Day Schools Tuition, to facilitate enrollment for Jewish children in one of three local schools offering an outstanding Judaic and secular education

"High quality programming and access to key Jewish experiences is the goal of CFJF," added Mr. Shapira. "CFJF  funded initiatives instill a strong Jewish identity among participants and a desire to pass the love of Judaism on to the next generation, which benefits all Jewish agencies. It's critical that all Jews in our region understand the vital role of CFJF, to support it and benefit from the education and engagement it will provide."

May 5 Community Event

At the CFJF's first community event today, guests were introduced to CFJF and its Campaign theme: "this is no laughing matter." Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, speaker and author of numerous highly-acclaimed books including, Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews, shared his insights on the role of humor in shaping the collective Jewish experience, and CFJF Founders were honored.  For more information visit: www.centennialfundforajewishfuture.org.