As I reflect on the past year, I am saddened by the loss of five great leaders. This past year we lost Bram Goldsmith, Jona Goldrich, Chuck Boxenbaum, Osias “Ozzie” Goren and Israel’s statesman and leader, Shimon Peres. Each of them impacted our Jewish community, and each of them left an indelible mark on our Federation and our essential work.
Bram taught us about LEADERSHIP. He led by his actions and by his example. He never hesitated to take on a leadership position or make the lead gift to an important community project. Bram’s dedication as a leader is embodied in our very foundation and will continue to live on in our programs. Our Community Leadership Institute (CLI) and our Rautenberg New Leaders Project (NLP) were created to identify, train and inspire our next generation of leaders. This is our Federation’s commitment to Bram’s legacy.
Jona taught us about MEMORY. He believed that we all have the responsibility to learn our history as Jews and ensure that future generations honor the memories of those we lost in the Holocaust and those who helped build the State of Israel. This informs our work — caring for the most vulnerable Jews in our community, especially our frail elderly. It also reflects what we impart in all of our teen and young adult work. This fierce loyalty to constantly “remember” is how we will continue to honor Jona’s memory.
Chuck taught us about COMMUNITY. He brought people together with a sense of mission and purpose. Chuck was a relationship builder and one of our community’s best fundraisers. He helped us understand that the Federation is not a fundraising organization. Instead, we build and sustain our community. We work together, hand-in-hand with our partners, to strengthen and unite our community. We raise funds to honor our mission and make a lasting impact here in this community and in Jewish communities around the world. Our campaign has been reimagined to reflect Chuck’s relationship-based approach.
Ozzie taught us to plan for the FUTURE. He strongly believed that in order to ensure the continuity of the Jewish People, we needed to invest in our young people. He understood that keeping teenagers engaged after their bar/bat mitzvah, through high school, college and beyond is the key to the Jewish future. He wanted every teen to experience Israel and understand the value of tikkun olam. He was an early supporter of our Federation’s Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative (LAJTI) — a community-wide effort providing Jewish teens in L.A. meaningful, personal, and relevant opportunities to participate in Jewish life. Ozzie always had a twinkle in his eye — a spark we are already seeing in these young people and a lasting tribute to Ozzie’s legacy.
Bram, Jona, Chuck and Ozzie shared a deep love for Israel and deep respect for former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, who we also recently lost.
Shimon taught us about HOPE. He inspired us to dream, and dream again, about Israel and all her possibilities. He motivated us to think big about our work in Israel — and we are. Over the past two years, we have partnered with the Israel Trauma Coalition and trained hundreds of psychologists, social workers and frontline responders to be able to diagnose and treat those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and we have helped thousands of Israelis. Through one of our partnerships, we also began working with teens living in some of Israel’s poorest neighborhoods, providing them with invaluable skills and the training they need to succeed in all aspects of life. You will be hearing a lot about this incredibly impactful work over the next few months. We work with our partners to give hope and inspire others to dream and reach for the moon. Our Federation’s devotion and commitment to hoping and dreaming is how we will continue to honor the legacy and impact of Shimon Peres.
We miss these five giants, but they left us lasting legacies — roadmaps for our Federation that guide us as we strive to make an even greater impact in the years ahead. We are forever grateful.
May their memories be blessings.
President & CEO