My Two Shekels: The Secret Sauce

Our work is made possible by the exceptionally dedicated, compassionate and devoted stakeholders in our community.  Among those stakeholders are our own Federation staff.  These impressive and caring professionals work with donors, community members, families, and institutions day in and day out to make a positive difference.  I am very proud to call them my colleagues.

My colleagues in the wider Jewish community are also vital pieces of the puzzle that make San Diego special.  I am grateful to the professional leadership of our partner organizations, and so many other community organizations.  The professionalism, commitment, and passion my colleagues bring to our community makes it possible for San Diego to thrive. I am again reminded by the idea that “the community is too heavy to carry alone (Deuteronomy 1:9)." And our community is carried by many!

And then there are our donors and volunteers. Without our board members, committee members, and thousands of financial supporters, our work simply would not be possible. On Wednesday, we had an opportunity to thank outgoing members of the Federation Board, present a series of awards, and hear from a legend of the national Federation system.  

Among those recognized were:

Kira Finkenberg and Jessica Korsunsky
Pauline and Stanley Foster Young Leadership Award Recipients – Presented by Marcia Hazan

Marcia shared, “It is my honor to represent my two sisters, Lisa and Karen, in the presentation of the Pauline and Stanley Foster Young Leadership Award. It was important to my parents that our community continue to nurture and recognize the contributions of young adult leaders toward a vibrant and enduring Jewish future.”

Jessica Korsunsky has only lived in San Diego for 3 years during which time she has demonstrated incredible leadership as Federation’s very first Parent Connector. Jessica is a natural convener and has built a peer network of over 160 young families in the northern most regions of our county (North North County as she calls it!). She is currently working as a Program Officer for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which is the founder of PJ Library, and will be joining the Women’s Philanthropy Board next month.

Kira Finkenberg represents the commitment and enthusiasm that we hope for from our future leaders. For several years, Kira has demonstrated her dedication to our community by serving on boards and committees for nearly every organization in town! Kira currently sits on the boards of ADL, JFS, CJC at the JCC, and Federation. She is also member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet where she has just assumed a national leadership role. Kira is the founder of her own successful marketing/planning/promotions company, The Kira Co.

Judi Gottschalk & Dr. Bob Rubenstein 
Board Chair Award Recipients – Presented by Brian Tauber

While Judi Gottschalk has only been on the Federation board for a short time, she has already established herself as someone undaunted by the challenge of taking on new projects, evidenced by her substantial role in developing and implementing our first Pauline Foster Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Development Institute. Judi is already stepping up to take on the co-chair position with the Women’s Philanthropy Board and plans to be our new chair in 2020.  

“Dr. Bob” Rubenstein brings clear thinking, professionalism, and compassion to his role as Finance Chair.  He expresses and demonstrates a sincere concern for the well-being of the ENTIRE community, not just Federation, and shows up at more events than virtually anyone we know in our community.  He is a warm, generous, and kind leader and well deserving of last night’s honor.  

Lori Polin 
Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award Recipient – Presented by Brian Tauber

The prestigious, internationally recognized Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland award is given to Lions of Judah who have demonstrated the highest ideals of leadership and involvement in their communities. Honorees are selected by their communities as “women of valor” who have shown a lifelong commitment to the Jewish world. Lori Polin has served as Vice Chair of Philanthropy, a Federation Board and Executive Committee member, and an Israel Missions Chair. She also has been an active force on the Women’s Philanthropy Board, most recently, co-chairing Federation’s 2018 OPTIONS, the most widely-attended event by Jewish women in San Diego. Lori shared, “I’m so honored to be part of a strong, international sisterhood of thousands of global activists who care deeply about the Jewish future and embody an unbelievable standard of leadership and giving. I do this work because it makes me feel good and it makes me proud to be Jewish. I strongly believe in community and taking care of Jews in need, and Federation has afforded me the opportunity to do both.”  

Brian Tauber
Recognized for his 4 outstanding years as Boar Chair – Presented by Michael Jeser & Joel Tauber

The evening was made even more special when Brian’s father, Joel Tauber surprised everyone by attending. Joel is not only the proud father of Brian Tauber; he is a titan of the Jewish Federation system and our global Jewish community. Joel served as Founding Chairman of JFNA and was the Chairman of UJA in the 1990s when our system rescued and resettled 1,200,000 from the FSU and nearly 50,000 from Ethiopia to Israel.  Joel shared his philosophy of giving and happiness, stating that happiness is all about two things - giving back and building relationships. He beamed with pride as Brian was recognized for his leadership, stating “my legacy is now complete”. Hearing from Joel reminded us that the Federation system, while changing throughout the country, continues to play a vital role in helping Jews in need, wherever they may be.  

I could go on and on about Brian and what he has meant to our Federation. He is fearless, strong, and a true partner. He has helped lead this organization though a time of significant change and transition and has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for excellence, taking risks, and challenging our Federation to take on new and important challenges.  Personally, I am grateful to Brian for being my partner and friend.  I will miss working with him in this role, but suspect he won’t be far.   

David Bramzon
Welcomed as Incoming Board Chair – Presented by Brian Tauber

To close the evening, Brian formally and officially welcomed David Bramzon who will take on the Board Chair position as of July 1.  We are proud of David, who is finishing his final year on National Young Leadership Cabinet, and know he will do an outstanding job as our new Board Chair. 


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