Before COVID-19 began to impact all of us in unprecedented ways, a group of young adult donors got together to celebrate Shabbat and to talk about leadership, philanthropy, and their new role in the Jewish community as members of the Ben Gurion Society. Little did they know that the world as we know it was about to change, and that their role as the next generation of prospective Jewish community leaders and philanthropists would take on new significance.
The Ben Gurion Society (BGS) is Jewish Federation’s national donor recognition program for young adults who support our community through the Annual Campaign with a gift of $1,000 or more. After a hiatus, Jewish Federation re-introduced the program during the 2019 Annual Campaign. It is an annual designation, and this year we were honoured to welcome 22 young adults to the BGS fold.
BGS embodies the legacy of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who inspired young men and women to use their passion and resources to build a stronger Jewish community at home, in Israel and around the world. In addition to building lifelong relationships with like-minded individuals, BGS members have the opportunity to engage directly with prominent philanthropists, community and business leaders at curated events, and to learn more about critical issues facing the Jewish community, both locally and abroad. Read more about BGS here.
On February 21, 2020, Jewish Federation’s new BGS members and other guests gathered for a special Shabbat dinner organized by BGS co-chairs Becky Glotman and Yael Segal to officially launch the BGS year. Held at the Glotman residence, the event was generously sponsored by Jonathon Leipsic, chair of the Federation Annual Campaign, and his wife Karly Leipsic.
In welcoming the new BGS members, the co-chairs spoke about the significant role that young adults can play in strengthening the Jewish community, and the motivation that spurred their personal involvement. “People say that the younger generation…does not appreciate what it takes to have a strong and vibrant Jewish community,” said co-chair Becky Glotman. “The time will come when our generation is going to need to step up to the plate and looking around this room…I've never felt more confident that we are capable of taking on that role.”
Co-chair Yael Segal was equally passionate about her commitment and the potential of BGS.
“…There’s a lot that we can do together with the Ben Gurion Society,” added Yael. “The sky truly is the limit, and I can’t wait to see the amazing things we can—and will—accomplish together.”
Following the dinner, two central community leaders and former BGS donors—Jonathon Leipsic and Shawna Merkur—inspired the group of prospective community leaders with stories about their respective leadership journeys, their mentors, and how participation in the Jewish community from a young age has shaped their lives. The enthusiasm in the room was infectious, leaving guests eagerly anticipating the next BGS gathering.
And now, a short six weeks later, BGS members are already taking a leadership step up to the plate. Not only can they feel proud that their support helped make possible Jewish Federation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, they are also finding new ways to help. Mindful of the many people and organizations in our community who need support, several members have created a survey to centralize information and coordinate volunteer options.
If you—or someone you know—are interested in learning more about BGS and its many benefits please contact Anna Labadze, Jewish Federation’s manager of young adult initiatives at firstname.lastname@example.org.