Jewish Federation hails volunteers, celebrates community’s generosity and dedication

Jewish Federation hails volunteers, celebrates community’s generosity and dedication

Lou Plung (Photo provided)
Lou Plung (Photo provided)

Featuring videos highlighting a year of accomplishments and the dedication of volunteers and lay leaders, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh welcomed hundreds of guests to the JCC in Squirrel Hill last week for an annual meeting billed as an opportunity to “celebrate and learn about Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.”

From a raised pulpit above the stage in Levinson Hall, board chair Woody Ostrow greeted attendees and introduced Leon Zionts, who performed the national anthem and

“Hativka.” Rabbi Paul Tuchman, chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic

Association, followed with a d’var Torah that touched on the power of collective action.

“We remind ourselves that the Federation reaches both within and beyond the Jewish community,” said the rabbi. The “work of the Federation reaffirms the work of past generations.”

Over the course of the evening, the audience watched three videos, each of which focused on the Federation’s efforts both regionally and abroad. In their remarks, both Ostrow and Federation president and CEO Jeff Finkelstein emphasized annual goals that were exceeded in terms of fundraising, including $13.5 million raised in the 2014 annual campaign and an endowment that surpassed $200 million.

Former board chair Louis Plung received the Emanuel Spector Memorial Award, the Federation’s highest honor, noting his “exemplary service to the community … over the course of many years.” Plung, who is serving as chair of the Foundation Grantmaking Committee, explained to listeners, “Our task is to take the community, shine it up, make it better and pass it on to our children and grandchildren.”

Daniel Kraut, CEO of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, received the Doris and Leonard H. Rudolph Jewish Communal Professional Award. The award “recognizes the exceptional personal and professional commitment of a Jewish communal professional employed by the Federation or one of its partner agencies.”

In thanking the nominating and selection committee, Kraut saw in the award an affirmation of the role that “Jewish day school education plays in our Pittsburgh Jewish community.”

“My mission, Hillel Academy’s mission, our community’s mission has never been more important than today,” he said. “To ensure a strong vibrant Jewish future in America, we need to ensure a Jewish education for every child.”

Meyer “Skip” Grinberg, chair of the Federation’s Community Relations Council, received the Gerald S. Ostrow Volunteer of the Year Award.

In his speech, Grinberg detailed the role of volunteerism by noting its dual facets: Volunteering helps the community as well as the individual volunteer.

Volunteering has been “fulfilling,” said Grinberg, and has introduced him to people he “never would have known … a whole host of people who have enriched my life.”

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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