Esther and I would like to start by thanking you all for allowing us the incredible honor and experience of leading the 2015 Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix annual campaign. We are proud and grateful that this campaign is the most successful since the beginning of the Great Recession (“Federation campaign raises $3.5M in 2015,” Jewish News, Jan. 29). Your generosity made it possible.

We are also proud and grateful to know that this money will be used to help create a better Jewish community. Some will be used to maintain the myriad of programs for the Jewish elderly, poor and Holocaust survivors. Some will go to the programs of our partner organizations, programs that may not exist but for federation dollars.

These include the Israel Advocacy program and staff on the Arizona State University campus as well as the senior concierge. Some go to programs made significantly stronger through our funding, such as Valley Beit Midrash, LimmudAZ, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, Moishe House Phoenix, Smile on Seniors, The Friendship Circle and many more. We know that whether the programs are for children, such as the East Valley and Valley of the Sun JCC preschools, or college students, such as Hillel and Jewish Arizonans on Campus (JAC), only their quality and relevance are important.

We are proud to support Jewish day school education, whether Orthodox (Phoenix Hebrew Academy, Shearim Torah High School for Girls, Torah Day School of Phoenix or Yeshiva High School of Arizona) or multidenominational (such as Pardes Jewish Day School).

We are proud to support programs in Eastern Europe of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (which brought Esther, as a child with her family, from a DP – displaced persons – camp in Europe after surviving the Holocaust) and in Israel through the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Esther and I are proud to help carry on this legacy and feel so inspired by all of you with whom we interacted this last year that we will dedicate ourselves for another year. This year, we will work under the direction of David Weiner, 2016 annual campaign chair, to have an even more successful campaign.

As one of the largest Jewish communities in the country, our dream is that if every Jew in Greater Phoenix gave one dollar per day – one third of a Starbucks – or if every Jewish family of four in the Valley gave $1,000 per year, we would have a $30 million campaign. Imagine what programs for the elderly, the Jewish arts and performing arts, Jewish heritage and culture we could create with such support!

Don and Esther Schon co-chaired the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s  2015 annual campaign.

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