[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
The party room at The Pointe was buzzing with energy and excitement on Saturday evening, February 2, when more than 70 Jewish young adults gathered for the annual YAD (Young Adult Division) Campaign Event.
The room sparkled as people connected with old friends and made new ones. They socialized, listened to comedian Raanan Hershberg, enjoyed food and beverages, danced to music played by a DJ, posed for photo-booth photos and generally had a good time.
There was a serious side to the evening, too, as they checked out a slide show that showcased the important work made possible by the Annual Federation Campaign, sometimes picking out their own children in photos from JCC Summer Camp and other events. They also heard from YAD Chair Ariel Kronenberg and had the opportunity to make their pledges to the 2013 Campaign. Those who made their pledges that evening were entered in a raffle for a necklace valued at $700.
Event Co-Chairs Keren Benabou and Faina Kronenberg had three goals for the evening: to bring more people to the YAD event than the previous year, to raise more money from the YAD event from the previous year and to ensure that people would have fun.
“I know we reached the first two goals,” Benabou said. “Aside from raising money, we brought this group of young, smart, successful, really fun Jewish people together to get to know new people, to engage in conversations and just to have fun.”
“I hope people walked away feeling that they’re proud to be part of this community and looking forward to next year’s event,” added Kronenberg. “I hope they tell their friends what an amazing evening they missed.”
Ariel Kronenberg made an impassioned plea for those in attendance to give from the heart to the Federation Campaign. He highlighted some of the programs made possible by the Campaign, including YAD events, Teen Connection, The PJ Library and many more. “To make all these things happen, the Jewish Community of Louisville depends on you,” he said.
He also pointed out that the JCL has cut staff and is on the way to having a balanced budget. YAD is also being updated, he added. He expects the changes to include the elimination of an age designation, the development of a mission statement and a change in the name of the division. He encouraged those present to volunteer to help in the process, to attend future events and to spread the word to get more people involved.
Federation Campaign Chair Karen Abrams also spoke briefly, recalling that she and her husband, Jeff Glazer, started their volunteer careers in YAD. She was pleased to see future community leaders in the room and called on those present to make leadership gifts to the Campaign of at least 20 percent more than they gave last year.
Those in attendance responded. Those in attendance increased their gifts by 30 percent over last year. To date, YAD has raised $54,908 for the 2013 Federation Campaign, a donor-for-donor increase of 22 percent.
Faina Kronenberg and Keren Benabou also explained that they made a point of drawing resources for the event from the Jewish community. The venue, The Pointe, is owned by Barrett Tasman and his family. The event was catered by Rye, a restaurant owned by Michael Trager-Kusman. The comedian, Raanan Hershberg, is a Louisville native and graduate of Eliahu Academy. The necklace that was raffled off and won by Caren Bailen was donated by Jewish-owned Genesis Diamonds. The alcoholic beverages were donated by Heaven Hill Distilleries, owned by the Shapira family.
They expect the bar to be raised even higher for next year’s event.
In addition to Benabou and Kronenberg, the event hosts were Tracy and Mark Geller, Heather and Seth Gladstein, Kate Kastenbaum, Jenna Koff, Laurence Nibur and Laura Pearson, Elizabeth Post, Shannon and Ed Rothschild, Abby and Barrett Tasman and Ben Vaughan.
The event co-chairs gave special thanks to Jewish Federation of Louisville Development Director Tzivia Levin Kalmes.
“She’s the glue that brings everything together,” said Benabou.
“We came up with the ideas,” added Kronenberg, “and she made them happen.”
Photos by Ted Wirth