By MARCIA CALLER JAFFE December 15, 2022, 10:27 am
In the 146th Annual JELF meeting, the lack of electricity did not detract from tributes to the organization’s workers and volunteers, nor its extensive outreach for help.
The Jewish Educational Loan Fund held its 2022 Annual Meeting on Dec. 7 at Temple Sinai with the one in a million snag when a nearby transformer cut out electricity. Despite cold food, the lack of streaming content, and the inability to share remote videos, the meeting aligned with the upcoming miracle of Chanukah, defeating all odds with oil burning, a smattering of backup lighting that held out just long enough to keep the speakers on point, and guests not tripping over one another.
The focus, of course, was and is still, on the good works of JELF, in tune with its 146th annual meeting. JELF CEO Jenna Shulman soldiered on in the darkness, stating, “So much for putting too much stock in technology.” She emphasized why JELF loans are so much more crucial now since education is the way to fight the rise of antisemitism and to help with the outrageous cost of college. Jennifer Lieberbaum was recognized for her decades of leadership and devotion “like processing pledge cards in the dark.”
JELF board chair Rob Rickles chats with his sister, Stephanie Gang, incoming JELF board member.
Board chair Rob Rickles, a previous JELF recipient, started by explaining that, in light of the lack of light, his four-minute speech would instead be 45 seconds. He shared, “This year, 400 students were helped with the $2 million raised. Also, this is the first year we did a summer session…and come visit our new office in Sandy Springs in the Northside Tower.”
Past board chair, and previous JELF recipient, Dr. Judy Wolman installed the new board and officers. New board members are Cherie Aviv, Adam Kaye, Ilana Lind, Jane Sandler, Stephanie Gang, Aaron Lipson, and Sheila and Dave Adelman. Outgoing board members are Michael Feldman, Nancy Galanti, Steven Kushner, and Don Sklar.
Because of the power glitch, virtual presentations, introduced by JELF board chair-elect Emily Sautereig for author Ron Lieber, New York Times best-selling author of “The Price You Pay for College,” were postponed for later distribution. “My JELF Story,” by Ukrainian-born Jane Sandler, JELF recipient and whom Shulman befriended in her 20’s, was also unavailable to stream.
Honorees Sheila and David Adelman flank JELF’S CEO Jenna Shulman.
Always quick on her feet, Eydie Koonin presented the Steve and Eydie Koonin Service Awards to Brian Banner and Sheila and Dave Adelman. She began with a fun sentimental story about a Passover decades ago with her mother and mother-in-law serving seder in a power outage, where “the wrong matzo ball soup pot got dumped.” Koonin praised Banner for his quiet thoughtfulness. The other award went to the Adelmans, who have served on various JELF committees and “continue to make a difference by their board service.”
Marianne Daniels-Garber then spoke of her initial meeting at General Muir with Jane Aronoff to feel her out. Garber was quick to note Aronoff’s ability to do “practically everything, especially during the pandemic, and remain unflappable.” Aronoff is known for her quick-witted style and ability to resolve key issues, serving in a variety of JELF positions, including a step back when her daughter, Lara Dorfman, served as JELF’s executive director.
In receiving the Garber Award, Aronoff became emotional, invoking the memory of Stephen Garber’s father, Al (Marianne’s father-in-law), and spoke of his love for study, heart and soul, vis a vis, JELF’s mission. She praised Daniels-Garber “because she is the real deal and role model.”
JELF workers Jennifer Lieberbaum and Josh Schaier said that they “look under rocks” to help fundraise.
Earlier in the reception, divorce attorney Kevin Rubin, incoming vice president and executive board member, told the AJT that he is motivated in 2023 to engage in strategic planning, and taking a hard look at the future, with emphasis on achieving growth including a specific push in South Florida. Note that JELF includes surrounding states, not just Georgia.
Rickles closed the meeting by saying, “This is like the miracle of Chanukah, that the one overhead light lasted this long.”
The evening ended with “mazel tov” cheers and, as guests exited, the lights came back on. Some opted for a stop at the bar and to head back into the Sinai social hall to watch the videos. Shulman also pledged to distribute the videos later, as others chose to linger and watch on the spot.