New Women’s Philanthropy Series to Focus on Connection

As the temperatures dipped into the 60s this week, the State Fair opened and the new school year started. It is also time for the beginning of the 2017 Federation Campaign; and the Women’s Philanthropy Division is taking the idea of a new beginning to heart.

This year, the division leaders have established a Women’s Philanthropy Cabinet that will present a “Connecting Series” of events designed to engage Jewish women in activities they enjoy. The cabinet itself is made up of women from different age groups with different interests.

Current cabinet members are Dr. Karen Abrams, Dr. Shellie Branson, Viki Diaz, Julie Ensign, Debbie Friedman, Jane Goldstein, Stacy Gordon-Funk, Cheryl Karp, Kate Latts, Robin Miller, Jennifer Tuvlin and Ann Zimmerman, and they would welcome additional volunteers.

First Event:
Connecting with Nature
The first Connecting Series event the group has planned is “Connecting with Nature” on Friday, September 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in The Parkland’s Turkey Run Park at the Pignic Barn. The program which includes a farm fresh lunch sourced from The J garden, a guided hike and a Tai Chi class, is just $12.

The idea for the series came about when a group of friends, Debbie Friedman, Judy Freundlich Tiell, Ann Zimmerman and Dorie Zimmerman, got to talking. “Every couple of months,” Friedman explained, we get together and try to do something fun.” One time, they went out to The Parklands and “ended up going out on a hike. It was delightful.” They had also brought a picnic lunch and had a great time.

A couple of weeks later, Friedman continued, she and her husband, Alan, were out riding bikes with Ralph Green and Shellie Branson. On that bike ride, Branson and Friedman “talked about connecting Jewish women on their level – where they are.”

The two recognized that Jewish women are “not necessarily members of a synagogue or The J,” Friedman continued, but Judaism gives them a common thread. With a goal of connecting these women, they brainstormed about things that might bring them together.

Some women like to hike or bike. Others like the arts or want to grow intellectually by participating in book clubs. The possibilities seem endless. Perhaps, they thought, if they could plan a series of different events for smaller groups of women with different interests, they could create a network that would reach out to a wider group of women than they have before. Women would see something that appeal to them and they would bring their friends.

So, with a goal of connecting Jewish women of all ages and backgrounds, the Women’s Philanthropy Cabinet and the Connecting With Series was born.

This first event, Connecting with Nature is hosted by Debbie Friedman and Ann Zimmerman. Friedman described it as a relaxed event where the women can choose the activities they want.

For those who like to walk, an easy hike is planned over graded paths primarily through shaded areas that will be easy to manage, even pushing a stroller. Participants will also be able to choose a Tai Chi class led by Joan Richert of St. Matthews Martial Arts with music by Cantor Sharon Hordes. Another option is to sit and relax in the gazebo and visit.

There will also be a lunch prepared by Mat Shalenko, a formally trained chef and certified health coach. Mike Fraade, The J’s JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food and Environmental Education) fellow will be there, too.

“It’s about getting people who aren’t usually together to be together,” Friedman said. “We want people to invite their friends who maybe aren’t even connected with the Federation.”

This is a Federation Campaign event, she said, but it is designed “to help people understand some of the things the Federation helps our community do. … We’re looking forward to a beautiful day.”

If you plan to come to the Connecting with Nature event, register online at or contact Kristy Benefield, 502-238-2739 or The Federation will send directions to the Pignic Barn. If you’d like to carpool, please contact Stacy Gordon-Funk, 502-238-2755 or

If you are interested in being part of the Women’s Philanthropy Council, Gordon-Funk would like to talk with you as well.

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