2016 Presidential Address

img_9342On behalf of the Board of Directors of YOUR Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties, I want to welcome you all to our Annual Meeting. I am HLP and it has been my honor & privilege to serve as your president for the past 3 years. We also have with us this evening our fine staff, Gloria Max, Executive Director and her assistant, Janice Sumner. Can we have any of our volunteers with us tonight….please stand. We thank them all for their most important service. We have much to tell you about tonight and have a have a special young man to speak to us later in the evening.

As many of you know, I have recently returned from the Tel Aviv University Board of Governors meeting and I would like to report that Israel is in pretty good shape. Certainly much was discussed about the University, but also much was discussed about Israel today. The subject of Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) and the anti-Semitism today on our college campuses were a hot topics during the meeting. BDS will only succeed if good people do nothing! If you hear someone making a disparaging comment about Israel, stop them & speak up.  We each have an obligation to support Israel. We must educate our children to stand up for Israel and being Jewish.

One of the highlights of the TAU BOG meetings is the Dan David Awards. This is on the level of the Nobel Prizes…very prestigious. Awards are presented for outstanding achievement in many categories for the Past, the Present and the Future. While sitting there, in this awesome event, I could not help thinking about our Federation in these different time periods, as our small Federation does have an outstanding history of accomplishments.

The Past:  Starting as early as the 1940’s a group of Jewish men & women would meet at the home of Harry & Bella Pepper Z”L to make their annual donation to the United Jewish Appeal. The bulk of the funds would go to Israel. In the 50’s it was called the Federated Jewish Charities and in 1978, it was granted a 501C3 designation (tax exempt) and was called, as now, The Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties.  We had a few different offices and then our current building was purchased in 2002 on Andalusia Ave. in Ormond Beach.

There have been a few executive directors of our Federation. The most notable executive director of the past was Iris Gardner, who is now retired and living in Texas. Our current, executive director, who has truly helped to build our Federation to a most prominent level in our community is Gloria Max. She has held the position for over 20 years and is most dedicated.

The Present: Our more current activities and accomplishments are too numerous to discuss them all here. Please take the time to look at the posters displayed in the social hall after the meeting (when you join us there for refreshments). Gloria has taken much pride in her accomplishments for our Federation. Most notably, she, along with her husband Ray Max, have raised our Jerry Doliner Food Bank to one of the most prominent food banks in the area and also our most renowned BackPack Program. Each has its own budget of over $100,000 per year, which is separate from our Major Campaign. These are heavily supported by many non-Jewish contributors due to the efforts of Gloria. Over 7000 backpacks have been distributed each year for the past several years, with over 80,000 total!

With the support of the Heasters and the Rimlers we were able to aid a couple Jewish families to move from the Ukraine to Israel. We have also helped those in need from disasters around the world….most recently from the earthquakes in Nepal to the storms in the Philippines to tornadoes in Oklahoma & the floods in Houston. Gloria has the most unique ability to actually find needy families and send checks directly to them. This has proved to be most meaningful by the letters of appreciation we have received.

Through the efforts of Micheline Welch, who has since moved to Chicago, we have a more online presence. You may recall her presentation at our annual meeting last August to introduce our new website.  She also brought to our attention a total effortless way to contribute to your Federation with your purchases from Amazon. How many here make purchases on Amazon?  (pause for show of hands)…simply place your orders on Amazon.Smile and 0.5% will be donated to the charity of your choice….choose Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties (it is already listed as an approved organization). If you are not sure how to get there (  you can do so from the home page of our website at .

Micheline also introduced us to the PJ Library. With the support of the Heaster Family we have been able to introduce this great program providing reading books with a Jewish theme to the Jewish children of our community. It has been a great success and is currently chaired by Cindy Newman who will give you more details in her report.

We also have an active Endowment Fund, currently chaired by Past President Lynne Ritter, which primarily gives grants to local Jewish organizations and synagogues for a multitude of Jewish educational and entertainment programs which are open to the public and well publicized. Think of this fund in your estate planning. You can leave a perpetual gift that will continue to educate and inform your community for years to come. Just give the office a call and they will tell you how you can make a difference.

Our continuing support of Israel is still paramount. Support has been in many different areas, too numerous to list here…some can be seen in the display is the social hall. Just to mention a couple are two Responder Fire Trucks and seven bomb shelters  (about $100,000 each!) which are used as class rooms or activity centers when not under attack.

Dedication to our senior population has always been a significant component of our local Jewish Federation. Since the early 1980’s holiday luncheons for the Jewish elderly of our community have been held for the Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Passover. These are complete with great Jewish meals, which many do not get often and entertainment. This is truly a highlight for most of these participants who are transported from nursing homes, group living facilities and even private homes. We also hold an Annual Community Wide Shabbat Service once a year where we can worship together as a community.  

The Future: Our future can be summed up in one word…ENGAGEMENT….!! In fact, the URJ National Board had a meeting this weekend in St. Louis and a key address was from the ED of the St Louis Jewish Federation speaking this very subject of engagement.

It goes without saying that we want all our current programs to continue and be even better in the future. We need to work more to engage the younger Jewish members of our community. (Look around…you see what I mean!!) Young leadership development is greatly needed. We are currently working to increase our online presence…this is where our younger community exists and this is our future.

A new website is under development and will soon be launched. Please go online to at least once a week. Maybe even make a donation to the Federation projects you want to support while you are there….it is very easy online. Do you agree?

You can sign up now online on our current website to receive e-mail notices of Federation events and happenings. Please encourage your family & friends to also sign up. In fact, you each should have found a sign-up form with your program. Please fill it out and place it in one of the containers provided in the back of the room and the social hall. We do have a Facebook page that we hope you will also visit often and we will soon have an electronic newsletter. It will still be available by regular mail for those who want it.

Cindy Newman will continue our efforts to engage our younger Jewish families and children with the PJ Library. This will certainly help the younger children have more of a Jewish identity.

To paraphrase some information from the Tampa Jewish Federation……It is beyond debate that one of the most important experiences that results in a lasting positive impact on a child’s Jewish identity as an adult is living Judaism every day in a Jewish summer overnight camp environment.  Those children come home to their communities, enthusiastic about their Jewish identity and become involved in Jewish life.

Later in life, they bring those skills and passion for Judaism to their communities to serve on congregation, Federation and other Jewish organization boards and committees, and many even serve as Jewish professionals.  In other words, the granting of a modest gift to a boy or girl today will have a huge impact on that child and our community in years to come. And, if not in our community, they will be active in other communities. Our collective goal should be that no child who wishes to attend Jewish summer overnight camp be deprived of that opportunity because of his or her family’s financial standing. We need to develop a camp scholarship program for our community. Do you agree?

We also are looking into having some workshops for our older youth in dealing with the anti-Semitism many are faced with today on college campuses. This is a problem that needs to be addressed now. Do you agree?

All of this and more takes planning, volunteers and staff. There is no question that we need to increase our staff to allow your Federation to do more for our Jewish community. Although this is not a fund raising event, I think you understand my message. All these things we do and want to do take funding. We thank you all for you continued support and future support.

In closing, I want to thank everyone again for allowing me the honor to serve as your president for the past 3 year and I want to thank my board, all the volunteers and Janice and especially Gloria (and Ray) Max…they are a set…for all they have done and continue to do.

I want to wish the very best of luck to our incoming co-presidents Marvin Miller and Steve Unatin

Thank you.

Howard L. Pranikoff, DDS, MScD, President 2013-2016