Everyone has imagined a better world. A world full of connections, acceptance, and caring. As Jews, we are natural dreamers. Throughout our history, we have dreamt of freedom, of peace, of a better future for the generations that follow us. And as Jews, we have never been content to just dream.
Over 100 years ago, a group of businessmen in Dayton joined together, under the leadership of Rabbi David Lefkowitz. They had a simple idea to collect membership dues, donations and legacies and allocate the collected funds to Jewish charities and philanthropic organizations. They imagined that together, they could make the everyday lives of Jews in the Dayton area better. That was the beginning of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. And our mission has not changed. We strive every day, in every way, to make Jewish life better.
Jewish life and Jewish identity continues to expand with every generation. Not just here in Dayton, but around the world. And each facet has their own needs. For some, basic needs like housing and food are critical. For others, it’s finding a way to connect and celebrate within a community. And for others, the need is having an opportunity to participate in a Jewish educational experience. Whatever the need may be, it is a chance for us to make Jewish life better.
The Federation exists as a way for all of us to be a part of making our community, and our world, better. We are not about just dreaming; we are about doing. We didn’t just dream about resettling Jewish refugees after World War II; we worked out a plan that ultimately helped resettle nearly 100 refugees here in Dayton. We didn’t just dream about returning to eretz Yisrael; in 1948, weeks after the formation of the State of Israel, our community personally handed Golda Meir a check for $300,000 to support the Jewish state. Throughout the history of Jewish Dayton our community has come together and worked to meet needs.
At Federation, we never stop dreaming. A couple of years ago, we started a visioning initiative called “Jewish Dayton Dreams Big”. We asked our community to imagine what Jewish Dayton could be in 20 years. The ideas and plans that came out of that process were incredible and inspiring. All of the ideas we are working on are all part of making Dayton “the best little Jewish community in the country.” The impact of this dream goes beyond Jewish Dayton to the broader Dayton community.
Everyone in this community who pledges to the Annual Campaign, makes a commitment to the idea, that together, we can make Jewish life better. We can truly be there – every day, and in every way. In 1918, when Rabbi Lefkowitz was raising funds for Dayton’s War Chest Campaign, he urged community members to give “in such proportion that there will be no cause for reproach.” This year, I am asking you to imagine a better Jewish world and give a meaningful gift that will help realize that dream.
For more information about the Annual Campaign, please contact Janese Sweeny, Financial Resource Development Director at
(937) 401-1542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1910 the first membership dues to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton were $3.00.
In 1911 the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton dispersed its first allocations, giving Miami Valley Hospital & St. Elizabeth’s Hospital each $100.
In 1948 the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton raises $300,000 to support the newly formed state of Israel.
Today, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton raises over $1,000,000 annually, with funds supporting local Jewish culture, Jewish Education, Israel, and Jews in need all over the world.
This June at Presidents Dinner, our community engaged in a powerful case for giving prior to dinner, which motivated everyone in attendance to “Imagine” beyond what we have accomplished in past years. There is still time to give to the 2019 Annual Campaign. donate today and help us make Jewish life better, every day in every way. Photo by Mendy Fedotowsky