The Federation’s Day of Philanthropy Dazzles

The crowded lobby and hallway of the Four Seasons Hotel was buzzing with energy from early morning to evening as more than 700 people gathered throughout the day to participate in the Federation’s premier annual philanthropic event – The Day of Philanthropy.

It was an eclectic crowd comprised of community leaders, professionals, Federation donors, heads of Jewish agencies and institutions, tax attorneys, real estate developers, young adults – and many more.  Attendees from across the Bay Area came to draw inspiration from the speakers, connect with peers, and explore some of the personal, technical and cutting-edge issues that impact philanthropy today.

Tom Kasten, Chair of the Federation’s Board of Directors, aptly summed it up: “The many mensches, machers, leaders, doers, thinkers, and professionals in this room together make up a community that we should all be proud to learn from, to work with, to support, and to celebrate.”

The morning Tax Seminar welcomed over 125 professionals who heard Professor Samuel Donaldson provide – with considerable humor – the latest insights and trends in tax policy and estate and charitable giving.  Many professionals in attendance were part of our Federation’s philanthropic advisory teams, who, along with staff, connect our donors’ philanthropic visions to meaningful causes and worthy beneficiaries.

A visual expression of our collective impact.

Dan Safier and Laura Lauder presented welcoming remarks to a sold-out community luncheon of 500, and Jennifer Gorovitz, the Federation’s CEO, declared, “I am inspired by all of you and I am elevated by the collective power in this room to effect change, and by the power of our collective voices to improve the world.” 

What followed was a stirring tribute to Gerson Bakar and Barbara Bass Bakar, philanthropic visionaries who have deeply inspired us though their leadership, hard work and personal commitment to the Jewish community and the broader Bay Area.  A short video chronicled some of this amazing couple’s philanthropic achievements.

Emma Mayerson and Lana Volftsun, active Jewish Community Federation Young Adult volunteers who were a part of the Day of Philanthropy Visioning Committee, extended their gratitude to those remembered for their generosity in leaving a legacy to the Jewish community. Emma shared that, “Personally, our decisions to be a part of the Federation and to support our Jewish community have direct debts to the generations that preceded us.  I cannot imagine where we would be today without individuals who have devoted their lives to caring for our community, like my grandfather whom I honor and have in my heart today.”

A memorable and moving Keynote Address

Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and CEO of Starbucks, gripped the audience’s attention with his Keynote Address by first commenting on the national political landscape and making a call to action to not stand idly by but, rather, become engaged; then recounting his story of growing up in Brooklyn with great economic hardship and the way in which a Jewish agency stepped in to help, leaving an indelible mark on him.  He was only seven years old at the time, but the experience permanently affected his philosophy of doing business: with an equal measure of profit and social responsibility.

And, lastly, Schultz described a chance encounter with a great rabbi on a trip to Jerusalem, in which he was moved to tears and reinforced in his philanthropic spirit.  Upon meeting with Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the head of the Mir Yeshiva, Rabbi Finkel recited a story of how, during the darkness of the Holocaust, a blanket was given to only one of every six Jews upon entering a concentration camp amidst freezing and inhuman conditions.  When faced with making the decision on who would stay warm during bitterly cold nights, the keepers of the blankets shared them with the others.  Rabbi Finkel implored: “take a blanket to America and share it with five others” – words that resonated with every person in the ballroom.

Philanthropic engagement and education

A series of complimentary, interactive philanthropic workshops followed, highlighting diverse topics ranging from Social Entrepreneurs Vision of a Better World to New Trends in Jewish Philanthropy: Landmark National Study Reveals why American Jews Give - and providing a chance for attendees to broaden their knowledge on specific topics of interest.

A celebratory atmosphere filled the ballroom during the afternoon Keynote with Larry Baer, CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and Daniel Lurie, CEO and Founder of Tipping Point Community, as they spoke about the Symbiotic Relationship Between Sports and Philanthropy.  Many who attended the day’s events stayed for the wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, taking the opportunity to mingle, network, and catch up with friends.

A special note of appreciation to the many sponsors who, through their generosity, made it possible for this event to take place.



November 01, 2013