New Orleans Jewish Community on the Road Back


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st cover.jpgWith cautious optimism, the Jewish Federation of New Orleans this week announced the success of their 2007 campaign, which came to a close on June 30 and raised close to $2.7 million.

“In terms of the Annual Campaign, we are almost back to where we were before Hurricane Katrina,” noted Sherri Tarr, Campaign Director.  The last campaign was held in 2005 and raised $2.8 million.  The 2006 campaign was cancelled to allow local residents to focus on rebuilding their own homes and businesses.

The Jewish community lost approximately 3500 residents due to Hurricane Katrina, forcing the Jewish Federation of New Orleans to work harder to raise funds from a smaller local base of support.  And the results far surpassed expectations while helping to unify the local community.  As Vivian Cahn, a 2007 Annual Campaign Co-Chair, put it, “In my mind it’s not just about raising money; it’s about bringing people together.  We need each other for strength and survival.”

Dr. Michael Wasserman, the other Co-Chair of the 2007 Campaign, added that “Working on the annual campaign this year was special.  Our community members recognized the importance of Federation in maintaining the vibrancy of our community and its institutions. The contributors gave generously and appreciatively.”

The Annual Campaign raised sufficient funds to continue community services, but Michael Weil, Executive Director of the New Orleans Jewish Federation, noted that “we have a lot more money to raise to fully rebuild the Jewish community and provide locally what the community needs.”  As the community completes the strategic plan for renewal and rebuilding, the 2007 campaign will help ensure that communal services continue unhindered.  These funds will provide for ongoing local services, but unfortunately will not cover costs for families whose homes were damaged of destroyed, schools that lost classrooms or buildings, or the community’s flooded synagogues.

The Jewish Federation of New Orleans thanked United Jewish Communities and Jews across the U.S. for standing by its side.  “We hope their support doesn’t waver as we continue our rebuilding efforts,” said Weil.  “We have developed a Strategic Plan that will enable the community to revitalize itself, but it will take substantial funds.  We estimate that we will need to raise $50 million over the next 5-10 years.  However, we will emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever.”