Last year, the Jewish Federation provided more than $120 million to take care of those in need and to build a strong Jewish future for all.

When I talk to Jewish community leaders around the country, I often hear the same comment: You know, Steve, Detroit has an incredibly strong community. I happen to agree, but what, exactly, does this really mean?

Steven Ingber

Much of it is simply the fact that Jewish life at our synagogues and temples, day schools and organizations across the community is rich and varied, and that, over many generations, the Detroit Jewish community has remained deeply connected to our heritage and collective spirit.

Beyond this, however, we can make an important claim: No other community is more generous or committed to Jewish life and welfare than ours here in Detroit.

Consider these facts: According to recent data, the Detroit Federation has the single highest percentage of individuals who support their Annual Campaign among large Jewish communities across North America. We also have the highest per capita amount of donations of any community.

Having recently completed the largest Annual Campaign in our organization’s history, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But there are a few things this data doesn’t reveal, and without them the story is incomplete:

It’s not the size of the campaign that matters, but the good it does for our local and global Jewish community. In other words, the most important measurement is the amount we distribute out. Last year, the Jewish Federation provided more than $120 million to take care of those in need and to build a strong Jewish future for all.

Where does it go? To our network of social service agencies, schools, camps, Hillels on campus, JCC and other organizations, as well as our partners working in Israel and around world. From there, your donation makes a difference in the lives of our older adults, individuals with disabilities, jobseekers and families facing hardships. It enriches the lives of campers and college kids, day school students and adult learners and many others.

Our donors expect their contributions to be used wisely, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We’re proud to report that more than 91 cents of every dollar are distributed directly to our local and global community, earning us four stars — the highest possible rating — by Charity Navigator, the gold standard for nonprofits.

But that’s only half the story. Thanks to our network of agencies and organizations, there’s no more efficient or effective way to support our local and global Jewish community. This became clear recently, as we faced the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the outset of each of these crises, we were able to quickly raise and deploy urgent and life-saving resources to those that needed them.

We are extraordinarily grateful to every supporter. We recognize that all our 10,000 donors played an essential role in the success of our campaign, and every single dollar made a difference to the welfare of this community. We are also extremely grateful to the visionary foundations that have served as key supporters and partners in the work of maintaining a thriving Jewish community. We thank you all for your trust, your generosity and most of all your commitment to a Jewish future.

As we look ahead, we recognize that inflation, economic instability, global unrest and the long tail of the COVID pandemic suggest that conditions will become more difficult for many in our community, especially those most vulnerable.

We hope for the best but are ready for whatever challenges arrive. Most importantly, we know that, thanks to the strength of our Annual Campaign and the donors that make it possible, the Jewish Federation will be here to take care of those in need and to provide a vibrant Jewish future for all. 

Steven Ingber is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. You can support the 2023 Annual Campaign at jewishdetroit.org/donate-online

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