A flurry of fundraising events has rounded off a remarkably strong year given continuing economic uncertainty.
In Canada, ORT Montreal’s 27th Annual Benefit Gala, featuring a concert by award-winning band Blue Rodeo, was its biggest yet with over 2,500 people attending.
“We raised over $900,000 (US$886,000) this year,”? said ORT Canada Executive Director Emmanuel Kalles. “This brings the present value total for the past 25 years to over $10 million (US$9.85 million), funding the needs of a variety of special ORT projects in Israel and around the world.”?
World ORT Chief Development Officer Jeff Kaye introduced guests to ORT programmes and there was an auction with Eddy Rogozinky of Empire Auctioneers before the concert. The corporate community made a huge contribution to the fundraising effort, with major sponsors such as CIBC and CIBC Wood Gundy, Peartree Financial Services, the Broccolini family, Cormark, Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg, Paladin Labs, the Dym Family, GMP, RBC Dominion Securities and Arthur and Vicky Silber.
Money raised during the evening is destined for tuition assistance in Montreal and several ORT projects in Israel.
South of the border, ORT Atlanta and ORT Cleveland held major events which brought the amount they have raised over the year nudging the $1 million mark.
In Atlanta, internationally renowned entertainment lawyer Joel Katz was presented with the organisation’s Commitment to Education Award at its Annual Tribute Dinner.
“Joel has parlayed his success in the legal profession and business to make the world a better place,”? said Dan Lipson, national board member of ORT America and event host committee member. “His philanthropy delivers tremendous results to numerous institutions and organizations because of his generosity, focus and energy. ORT Atlanta is proud to bestow our highest award to this deserving individual.”?
Mr Katz, who has represented legendary entertainers such as James Brown, Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, B.B. King and Kris Kristofferson, has long been on ORT Atlanta’s shortlist for the award simply for the sheer number of scholarships and professorships that he has created.
But the organisation’s president, Keith Linch, said that what set Mr Katz apart from other major philanthropists was his continued involvement in the programmes he founded.
“No question, he cares about these deeply,”? Mr Linch said. “It’s always impressive to see folks do things like that, but also for the time and effort that’s gone into developing these programs, the personal input”ﾦ When Joel gets involved in something, he takes an interest; he doesn’t just put his name on it.”?
He even became involved in the evening’s programme by requesting entertainment in the form of U.S. Beat, one of the region’s premier live bands.
“They’d never had a band at one of these things before, but I said, “ﾘI don’t want anybody coming to this thing just to listen to some ole windy speeches,”? Mr Katz grinned. “I want people to leave only after having a good time.”?
ORT Cleveland’s 39th Annual ORT Brunch saw a record 250 people come together to pay tribute to businessman and community leader Dan Zelman, who was honoured as Man of the Year.
In presenting the award, Cleveland Region President, Bart Bookatz, noted Mr Zelman’s history of 24 years of supporting ORT.
“That really is a strong testament to your belief in the work ORT is accomplishing,”? Mr Bookatz said. “You have shared your personal desire of helping people less fortunate which is what blends so well with ORT’s mission.”
In accepting his award, Mr Zelman said that while his career was taking off, he was moved by the support of many people in his life. As a way of honouring those mentors, he attempts to model that support in his philanthropic life.
“I accepted this award because of the respect I have for the important work ORT is undertaking around the world. ORT provides a helping hand for people to succeed and communities to flourish and I am very proud that my involvement helps ORT advance its mission,”? said Mr Zelman, who owns and operates several companies as well as serving on the board and the executive committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and other communal organisations.
In addition to honouring Mr Zelman, the event celebrated the conclusion of the year-long celebration of World ORT’s 130th anniversary.
“One hundred and thirty years is a tremendous testament to ORT’s success,”? Mr Bookatz said. “ORT’s mission is as vital today as it was 130 years ago “ﾓ a commitment to helping the Jewish People, wherever they live, attain the skills they need to be self-sufficient.”?
Special recognition was also given to David Kornbluth, recipient of the 2010 Sadie and Maurice Friendman Leadership Award, and Bennett Rubin, recipient of the 2010 President’s Award.
In Brussels, ORT Belgium has held its first fundraising dinner and raised €40,000 ($52,000) for “Smart Classes”? in Israel.
ORT Belgium President Charlotte Gutman-Fischgrund was delighted by the success of this watershed event, which attracted 50 people including Israeli Ambassador Tamar Catarivas-Samash.
“Until now, our events have been primarily social functions to attract members and to increase awareness of what ORT does around the world,”? said Ms Gutman-Fischgrund, who hosted the dinner with her husband Ephraim Fischgrund. “There are many worthy organisations raising money in the Jewish community here so we are very happy that our efforts in nurturing grass roots support have translated into money for ORT projects.”?
Ms Gutman-Fischgrund said she planned to follow up this success by inviting people to join a mission to see how their investments are used by World ORT’s operational arm in Israel, Kadima Mada “ﾓ and by staging another fundraising dinner.
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer congratulated the fundraising organisations for their essential contribution to realising ORT’s mission worldwide.
“They are doing a superb job raising money in an exceptionally difficult economic climate,”? Mr Singer said.