It was an event that felt like it was designed to send the pandemic packing. Nearly 250 women gathered on October 24 in the heart of Denver’s RiNo district in a rustic-chic restored 1908 industrial building.
There were post-covid reunions and reunions that had been decades in the making, including keynote speaker and JFNA Board Chair Julie Platt who reconnected with Teena Slatkin. Slatkin’s parents hosted the Shabbat dinner of Julie’s wedding weekend in their backyard in Kansas decades ago.
The event title, “Cultivating Hope,” lived up to its name with Platt’s inspiring address about the local and national work of JEWISHcolorado and Jewish Federations of North America, respectively. Too, there was hope to be found in the inspiring and empowered leadership of young women like co-chairs Felicia Greher, Dina Silverman, along with Women’s Philanthropy Chair and Cabinet member Carla Kutnick, and
Campaign Chair and National Women’s Philanthropy leader Lisa Mintz.
Why giving back became a priority
Each co-chair shared her Jewish “why.” For Greher, it was moving to Colorado 17 years ago to find a warm and welcoming Jewish community. “It is within this community that I have been able to fully experience and realize my Jewish identity and where I have found my place and developed treasured relationships.”
Silverman was also a community newcomer. She moved to the U.S. as a child from Belarus in 1989. She and her family settled in Connecticut in part because of a very active, supportive, and vibrant Jewish community that was willing to sponsor the family. “An amazing group of Jewish women volunteers …women worked tirelessly to gather furniture, clothes, donations, lists of resources, language assistance, and work assistance to help us and the hundreds of other Russian immigrants who came to America in the late 80s and early 90s,” said Silverman.
“I think a lot more about those generous, warm, giving women who were there for my family. And I am finally at a point in my life professionally and personally, where giving back has become a priority, and particularly giving back to a Jewish community”
Twenty-three years of unwavering service and support recognized
A highlight of the event was the recognition of Boulder’s Jackie Sprinces Wong as the winner of the prestigious Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland award for a lifetime of volunteerism, engagement, and philanthropy for the Jewish world. She sported every name tag and event credential from each of the conventions and conferences she attended. In Sprinces Wong’s words, “Twenty-three years of unwavering service, long-term financial giving, Jewish education, connections, opportunities, travel, and relationships.”
For her part, Platt detailed a multitude of blended initiatives on the local, national, and global stages, from mental health efforts and security to assisting fellow Jews in Russia and Ukraine. State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet spoke too, imploring the crowd to consider their own political engagement at a time when representation of the Jewish people is so badly needed in all levels of public service.
On display was the remarkable dedication of long-time and devoted federation lay leaders and the hope that comes with a new generation of empowered and empathetic young people. Wrote one attendee: “Mazal tov on such an extraordinary event… I loved seeing the energy of so many young women. It was an event filled with hope and solidarity….”
“What we were all reminded of was the power of women who know that ultimately, through working and uniting together, there is a real chance of solving the problems that plague our modern world,” said Director of JEWISHcolorado Women’s Philanthropy Roberta Witkow. Women’s philanthropy will be on display in December at the International Lion of Judah conference in December in Phoenix. For more information about the conference, or about becoming involved in JEWISHcolorado’s Women’s Philanthropy efforts, please contact Roberta Witkow (firstname.lastname@example.org)