The Pro Bono Consulting Practice Brings Community Together

Dispatch from “They Played for Their Lives”

Nurit Jugend, a classical music composer and educator, has been on a profound journey over the past six years. As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, as well as a musician, several years ago Nurit began to ask questions about “whether there was any music making in the ghettos and the camps, and if there was, what purpose did it serve and what did it provide the people who played music.” Her questions propelled her to seek out those musicians and composers who had survived the camps and ghettos and are still alive today, and to listen to their stories. In the process of doing so, Nurit ultimately directed her efforts into the production of a documentary film entitled, They Played for Their Lives, about the ways in which music saved people’s lives during the Holocaust, and the development of a nonprofit by the same name.

Nurit Jugend

As the primary force behind the documentary and the nonprofit, Nurit commented that, “Since the beginning of the project, I’ve been pretty much running this thing solo, and taking care of every aspect that you can think of, whether it’s artistic or research, physically meeting with people, hiring crews, legal contracts, the music, the photos, everything that you can think about a film and a nonprofit, doing the little accounting – everything has pretty much been my job.”

However, as the work progressed, Nurit realized that she needed help, specifically in the realm of accounting. So she sought out the advice of friends in her community, and they led her to the Pro Bono Consulting Practice at the Federation, which in turn, connected her with Norm Berkman, CPA with Mark G. Berkman & Co.

Norm Berkman, CPA

Norm emphasized his commitment to doing pro bono work in the Jewish community, as well as his enthusiasm for Nurit’s project: “I’m thrilled that Nurit’s been able to bring her project to fruition. It’s a message that needs to be heard and brought to a wider audience.” He also reflected on the tremendous impact that this kind of work can have on the community: “I think this is where the Federation comes in and helps to bring community together. There are times when organizations need help – like seed funding – to get off the ground, to be an organization that can eventually fly on its own. I’m proud to be part of the process and assisting in the things that the Federation is doing.”

Nurit reflected on the gratitude she has for those who have assisted her in both the film production and the nonprofit organization. She said, “This is not an easy topic for many people and most people I’ve encountered found it really difficult to face, to talk about, or to get involved. However, if and when a person did choose to get involved, they were just 100% devoted...and I couldn’t make it without them, because to be that one person, you need that support, and when I got it, it helped me bring the project together.”

She continued to emphasize the importance of Norm’s work in sustaining and developing the nonprofit: “I have so many things to take care of, and at least I felt that a big part of it, the accounting, was taken care of. Norm made it very easy. He saved me a lot of time, effort and energy that I would have had to spend learning everything that he did, all the paperwork and accounting and things I’m probably not even aware of. It really gave me peace of mind; it gave me more time to spend on other aspects of the film. I really feel like I can go to sleep quietly at night because I feel that that part, which is really important, is in safe hands.”

Norm reiterated that with any organization, there are various components that go into sustaining and maintaining it, including legal aspects, accounting, and, of course, operations. He went on to say that, “if you can relieve one part of it, it allows the individual who’s operating the organization to concentrate on the important aspects of the organizational work. I feel that Nurit’s accomplished her mission, I’ve assisted, and I think you create a team to make it go forward.” And with Norm’s assistance, Nurit has a team that will continue to support the difficult and important work to which she has devoted herself.

Would you like to be a pro bono consultant? Share your skills. Are you a nonprofit seeking assistance? Request pro bono help.

For more information about the Pro Bono Practice, contact Bab Freiberg, Director of Strategic Consulting.


May 31, 2016


Noa Silver