Nearly 300 people gathered at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus as the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix presented Bob Silver with its highest recognition, the Medal of Honor. The presentation was one of the highlights during the organization’s 75th Anniversary Kickoff & Awards Celebration on March 9.
Silver received the award for his leadership and passion for the Federation and the community. He credited his parents, Warren and Judy Silver, with instilling in him the desire to give back and live the value of kol yisrael aravim zeh, la’ zeh, being responsible for each other. He reminded guests that “no friend was ever made, no change ever happened and nothing worthwhile ever started by saying ‘no’.”
“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive an award from an organization and a community that has meant so much to me and my family and grateful for the values my parents taught me,” said Silver. “I hope that the next time you are asked to serve on a committee, attend an event or make a gift, and you feel that ‘no’ rising in your throat, you pause and consider saying ‘yes’.”
Silver then surprised long-time Federation staff member Robin Loeb with a special gift recognizing her 26 years of service to the organization. He recounted darker days during the recession when she, Silver and a few dedicated volunteers kept Federation going. In honor of her dedication, Loeb received a unique rose crafted from a Katyusha rocket that had been fired into Israel from Gaza.
The Federation also presented its Belle Latchman Community Service Award to the Swift Youth Foundation for its Camp Swift program, which provides meaningful and enriching camp experiences to at-risk youth.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein, noted author and lecturer, rounded out the evening’s highlights. He spoke of the tenacity of the Jewish spirit through the generations. He cited an article, “The Vanishing American Jew” in the April 1964 issue of Look Magazine, which predicted that the Jewish culture would be completely lost in the next three generations.
“Look Magazine is gone, but we are still here,” Feinstein said. “It is evidence of the creative and cultural resilience that accounts for the survival of our community. The eternal history of our people is to renew—to build for our own time and to build for our children and our children’s children.”
The March 9 event also celebrated the Federation’s founding in 1941, and the years of service made possible through the generosity of its supporters. It also kicks off the 2016 Annual Campaign and a year-long celebration of 75 years of gratitude, giving and giving.