What is our purpose JCF head asks at annual meeting

"As Jewish community leaders we need to leave behind the easy road and work together to make the community more welcoming and inclusive. At the end of the day we must have enriched Jewish life."

At the meeting, which featured the presentation of the federation's annual Distinguished Service Awards of Excellence, Rothenberg cited last year's JCF-sponsored Future Search conference as an important step toward uniting the Jewish community in tikkun olam (repairing the world).

In July 1996, volunteers and professionals representing various Jewish organizations and points of view gathered to discuss the Jewish community's goals. Rothenberg said the gathering, called the Future Search Conference, has already joined participants in pursuing at least one common goal: to double the number of people actively involved in the Jewish community.

To that end, he said conference participants have formed several think tanks that focus on improving federation-synagogue relationships, increasing volunteerism and developing young leadership. The JCF is also working to create a more inclusive community through outreach efforts to new emigres, Israelis, teens, and gay and lesbian Jews.

Following Rothenberg's address, Frances Green, former JCF president and current chair of the federation's Awards of Excellence committee, presented the Distinguished Service Awards of Excellence.

"As we work together to build a vibrant and lasting Jewish community, we depend on people like you to lead us forward with strength and dignity," she said, handing out the awards.

The Volunteer of the Year award went to Debbie Trubowitch Cohn, who has served in a variety of volunteer capacities throughout the Jewish community. Last spring, along with her husband, Barry, she co-chaired Jerusalem in the Gardens, the 1996 communitywide celebration of Israel Independence Day and Jerusalem 3000.

Recently, as chair of the new S.F.-based Israel Center, she has turned her energies toward enhancing the relationship between Israel and the Bay Area Jewish community.

Al Spencer received the first ever Spirit of Volunteerism award for visiting residents on a weekly basis at the Jewish Home for the Aged. A 98-year-old San Franciscan, Spencer gives generously of his time and has befriended staff and other volunteers from several Jewish institutions.

Mickey Naggar Bourne was named Agency Staff Member of the Year for her work as director of the Israel programs department at the Bureau of Jewish Education over the past 17 years. By organizing the Jewish community's annual Summer in Israel Youth Program, she has helped introduce the Israel experience into the lives of thousands of teens and strengthened their Jewish identity.

The Executive of the Year award honored Seymour Fromer, founder and executive director of the Judah L. Magnes Museum. During the past 35 years, Fromer played an integral role in building the Berkeley institution from a small collection in a single showcase to the third largest Jewish museum in North America.

Having dedicated his career to promoting Jewish education and culture, Fromer will retire in November, becoming the museum's director emeritus.

Bob Griepenburg received the JCF Staff Person of the Year award for his dedication as the JCF's mailroom supervisor, where he has worked for the last 20 years. Over time, as the JCF has grown larger, Griepenburg's responsibilities have increased.

In the last year he has handled more than a quarter of a million pieces of mail, managing a cost-effective and sophisticated mailing system.

The award for Program of the Year went to the San Francisco High School Chavurah, created in response to recommendations from the JCF's Teen Task Force and area congregations, to keep teens involved after celebrating their b'nai mitzvah.

A collaboration between Congregations Beth Sholom, Emanu-El and Sherith Israel and the Bureau of Jewish Education, the program is the first of its kind in the Bay Area. The chavurah this year drew 175 Jewish ninth-to-12th-graders to weekly classes in a local synagogue to build Jewish identity, literacy and community.

Campaign chair Carol Saal was saluted for successfully leading the 1997 annual campaign, projected to close at a record-breaking $19.6 million — surpassing last year's total by half a million dollars.

At a regular JCF board meeting prior to the annual meeting, campaign allocations to nearly 60 agencies and programs operating locally, nationally and overseas were approved by the federation's board of directors.

That meeting also included the election of 1997-98 board members and officers, including first-term officeholders Liki Abrams, Roy Bukstein, Eve Cohen, Paul Cohen, Mimi Gauss, Dan Lavin, Marlyn McClaskey, Larry Popofsky, Irv Rabin, Marian Sofaer, Marlene Stein and Sandy Tandowsky.

Outgoing members honored were Stanley Herzstein, Stephen Leavitt, Alvin Levitt, Peter Pollat, Lisa Pritzker, Ellen Saliman, Richard Swig and Sheldon Wolfe.