Categorized | Rotto_Gary, San Diego County

Federation Men’s Event helped build Jewish leaders

By Gary Rotto

Gary Rotto

Gary Rotto

SAN DIEGO — I haven’t attended the Federation Men’s Event in a few years.  I’m certainly supportive of Federation and not opposed to the event.  It’s just that it wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

But, I was sitting in our congregational board meeting and listening to Rabbi Yael Ridberg report on the success of organizing a table of women from the congregation at the Options event.  Congregation Dor Hadash had representation for several years at Options, but had made no attempt to organize a table for the Men’s Event.  I knew what would happen if I raised the issue – that I would be volunteered to organize our presence at the event – but it needed to be raised.  Also, it seemed like the proper role for me, as the immediate past president of the congregation, to play expanding our presence in the community.

I discovered that several members of the congregation already had a track record of attending the event and were committee to other tables.  But there were many men who did not have plans to attend but, with a little encouragement, would be happy to be a part of an official Dor Hadash table.  So our table of 11 attendees – 8 congregants and three young professional friends who are involved with the San Diego Leadership Alliance – mingled with about 1100 other most male attendees.  I say mostly male because there are always a few women who volunteer or represent elected officials or organizations such as my friend Sarah Fields.  Sarah had planned to attend on behalf of State Senator Marty Block and, when RSVPing, noticed that I was a table captain.  So our table became one of the rare ones with a female attendee as well as a representative of an elected official.

Due to the generosity and vision of the event underwriter, the Mizel Family Foundation, this was the fourth year in a row that the event was presented with neither a cover charge nor a minimum contribution commitment.   As noted in the introduction, the Federation recognized that philanthropic patterns and expectations have changed with the new generation of community members.  Important partners with Jewish Family Service with Seacrest Village were cited.  A key theme of the event emerged:  Donors and our passions matter, measurable outcomes of our contributions are important.

With an eye to new leadership, the request was made for all participants younger than 40 to raise their hands.  The result was impressive with many hands raised including at over half at our table.  Federations continue to fund programs for more Jews in need around the world than all other Jewish organizations in the world combined.  For this to continue, the barriers to participation in the greater Jewish community must continue to be lower.  No cover events such as the Men’s Event continue to support inclusiveness.  And if as Federation continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of the programs it funds, attendees will continue to response to the opportunity to pledge their financial commitment to services locally and around the world.

Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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