Journalist David Gregory to speak on spiritual path at JFCS event

David Gregory

David Gregory, political analyst for CNN and author, says reconnecting with Judaism centered his life in the right way.

Gregory’s book, “How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey,” is an autobiographical tale about his return to faith in adulthood. Simon & Schuster published the book in September 2015.

“The path of faith can be very meaningful — for anybody,” says Gregory. “I think there’s a lot of people asking themselves, ‘How do I live life with more meaning and more purpose?’ And I think a lot of people are looking for that, and not always finding the way in.”

Gregory spent more than 20 years as a high-profile broadcast journalist. He served as moderator on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” a weekly forum specializing in political, economic and social commentary, from 2008 to 2014. He got his start at Tucson’s KGUN 9, spending his summer breaks here while earning an undergraduate degree from American University in Washington, D.C.

He developed a strong foundation in Judaism through prayer, study and ritual, which he says complements “what I think the Jewish community does so well, which is create a sense of community, to be very philanthropic and to look after other people.”

“Particularly, as Jews, we can have a conversation about faith, about God and make that a bigger part of our identity than just culture, or love of Israel,” he says. “But that there’s these added kind of spiritual dimensions that are a big part of our Jewish identity as well.”

Gregory will be the guest speaker at the 2017 Jewish Family & Children’s Services “Celebration of Caring” fundraising event on Sunday, April 23. The annual event will be held at the Tucson Country Club, 2950 N. Camino Principal, with a reception at 5:15 p.m., followed by a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Stella Inger, anchor at KGUN 9, will emcee the event.

Kathryn Unger

This year’s event will honor Kathryn Unger, chair of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s planning and allocations committee.

Unger was overwhelmed to find out she was being honored at this year’s event. “Being involved in leadership is what I do, it’s second nature to me,” she says. “I was taught as a kid, that when you live in a community you do everything you can to make your community a great place to live.

“It’s actually my honor to help make our community even greater than it was when I landed here 27 years ago,” says Unger.

Unger and her husband, David, purchased their first home in Tucson in 1990; the couple relocated to the Old Pueblo from Akron, Ohio, in 1996. She assumed her first local leadership role as co-chair of the now defunct Woman of Valor event hosted by the JFSA.

During her time in Tucson, she served on the JFCS board of directors for 10 years in various leadership positions. She continued her community-based work with the Federation, serving as board chair and chair of the Compelling Needs Grants program.

Unger says one of the highlights of being honored will be having her son, Jeffrey Unger, of Los Angeles, and her daughter, Julie Zorn, of Akron, Ohio, attend the occasion.

“And I hope they feel that I’m a role model for them — about where they should be in their communities, and what they should do in their communities — just as my parents were for me,” she says.

Fred Fruchthendler, board chair at JFCS of Southern Arizona, says the “Celebration of Caring” event doesn’t always recognize a local community member, but honoring Unger fits the organization’s mission.

“She has worked hard to build a strong, vital Jewish community,” says Fruchthendler. “She’s done all of the things that we feel leadership is about. One of the responsibilities of a leader is to train your successors, and in some sense you hope that you’re mentoring your children to embrace your values, and she’s done that.

“Kathy puts her efforts and her energy where it makes a difference, and she doesn’t have an expectation of getting anything back,” he says. “She is a good mentor and role model to so many people. Those are, I think, the true values of a woman of valor.”

For tickets, or to include a tribute to Kathryn Unger in the event program, visit jfcstucson.org, call 795-0300 ex. 2238 or email celebration@jfcstucson.org.