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Launching Oct. 24: Annual campaign funds local, global needs

Melissa Goldfinger, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona annual campaign chair for 2020, is surrounded by (L-R) Deborah Oseran, Ronnie Sebold, Andy Kunsberg, and Leslie Glaze. Photo: Debe Campbell/AJP

Educating the community — that’s our real campaign task,” says Melissa Goldfinger, chair of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s 2020 fundraising drive. “We kick off our 100 Days of Impact on Oct. 24, with our 2020 theme: Powered by You — Stronger Together. Our job is to help donors know what the Federation really does — instead of just asking for money,” she explains. “The campaign is truly the Federation’s tzedakah box. We collect donations in our box and give them away to agencies and partners.”

Goldfinger wants everyone to understand the impact of these campaign gifts. “When people learn what we do, they give. We support the past, through the Jewish History Museum and the Holocaust History Center; we support the future through Tucson Hebrew Academy, PJ Library, and our growing reach in the Northwest; we support the vulnerable through Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Senior Task Force, Jewish Free Loan, and special needs programming, as well as many other community outreach projects,” says Goldfinger. “We support our synagogues, our Weintraub Israel Center, indeed, our whole community. It’s just that simple. For those in need, Federation is here.”

Other campaign innovations are in the works, too. Calling won’t be the primary mode of securing pledges in this year’s drive. The 2020 solicitation will begin with a letter and email, with follow up calls, texts, and emails. “We’re reintroducing Text-to-Donate, a great tech-friendly way to donate on the spot,” says Goldfinger.

Goldfinger encourages JFSA supporters to complete their 2019 pledges before the new campaign begins. “We are near 100% of our 2019 goal. But we still need each pledge to reach that $4 million mark.”

The 2020 campaign launches with a “no pain and lots to gain Training CAMP-aign” dinner and event for community members on Thursday, Oct. 24. Two training tracks are offered: “Track 101 for the freshman class and Track 201 for the seasoned people who’ve been around the block a time or two,” Goldfinger explains. David T. Brown, the Jewish Federations of North America national campaign chair, will be the keynote speaker, joined by Rachel Hoffer, JFNA’s national young leadership co-chair. All current and potential donors and volunteers who want to learn more are invited to attend the three-hour event, beginning at 6 p.m. Register for Training CAMP-aign  at

The Campaign Summits, Nov. 12-13, will feature Mohammed Al Samawi, author of “The Foxhunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America” (William Morrow). Al Samawi, an interfaith activist, will share his powerful story, recounting how four ordinary Jewish strangers he connected with through Facebook saved his life as two opposing terrorist factions threatened him in his home country of Yemen. “We actually found out about Al Samawi from my son, Sam,” said Goldfinger. “I asked him who his favorite speaker at his BBYO camp experience was and above them all was Al Samawi. Because of that, and because one of my passions is involving younger generations, we’ll open up the Young Leadership Summit this year to include teen leaders and youth group participation.” The Federation will work with Hebrew High, BBYO, USY, and NFTY to invite local teens to join the Young Leadership and Ben Gurion Society Summit dinner on Nov. 12 at the home of Tedd and Melissa Goldfinger.

The Community Summit lunch for all agency boards, Women’s Philanthropy, and community leaders will be held at noon on Nov. 13 at Hacienda del Sol. The Advanced Gifts Summit dinner will be held on Nov. 13 at the home of Steve and Shelly Silverman. “We hope that between the three summits offered, everyone will find one to attend. If not, give us a call, and we’ll work something out,” says Goldfinger. Register for summits at

Fran Katz, JFSA senior vice president, adds, “Every year, we anticipate the excitement and the passion of Federation’s campaign launch and summits. We see the strength in our community renewed as together, we gather to raise the funds essential to our mission. Our programs, agencies, and partners transform lives locally, nationally, and internationally, but our annual campaign is the foundation of that success.”

To make a campaign donation, go to