Artzi to Lead JPSA Board

Jeff Artzi

For Jeff Artzi, it’s all about engagement. And hard work. And fun.

Artzi, a Jewish community volunteer for more than 30 years, was installed as the chair of Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona at its Board of Trustees meeting on May 9.

Before outlining priorities for his term, Artzi spoke about the challenges facing the Jewish community since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that provoked the ongoing war in Gaza.

“We’re facing a time in our history as Jews and as supporters of Israel that is unprecedented,” Artzi told the board, citing anti-Israel protests in the streets and on campuses and a rise in global antisemitism.

Naturally, Artzi’s priorities include safety and security, an issue JPSA “has embraced and will further lean into,” he said.

Other priorities he discussed on May 9 are education for teens and adults, Israel missions, and helping those in need.

All hinge on increasing engagement.

“We know that an educated, enlightened community is a more engaged community — and we need more of our people engaged,” he said.

“We know that when community members feel safer, they feel more comfortable coming to events, participating in synagogue services, and proudly engaging as members of the Jewish community,” he added.

Increased engagement would also allow JPSA to help more people in need at home and around the world, something the Federation locally and nationally “has always put in the forefront,” he said.

Artzi began volunteering in the Jewish community soon after moving to town in 1993 with his wife, Sarah, a Tucson native. The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, which in 2022 officially became part of JPSA along with the Jewish Community Foundation, honored him as both Young Man of the Year (1998) and Man of the Year (2017). He has co-chaired the Israel Festival numerous times and has been chair or co-chair of the Weintraub Israel Center, since 2015.

He will continue as WIC chair concurrently with chairing JPSA. “This is not a good time to transition out,” he said, adding that WIC is “a gem in our community.”

Artzi, who co-led the first WIC mission to Israel in 2016, said increasing missions is part of a larger goal of educating members of the Jewish and broader communities about Israel. JPSA will also promote more “people to people” connections with Israel, he told the AJP, citing past exchanges that have included chefs, firefighters, and other first responders.

The center’s community shlicha (Israeli emissary), Yuval Malka, “is doing a fabulous job” of exposing the community “to all things Israel,” he said.

Artzi acknowledged that “even the very subject of Israel is polarizing” in today’s climate. One of JPSA’s core principles around its Israel work is to promote unity, not uniformity.

“It’s perfectly appropriate for us to disagree and to be able to debate and challenge each other,” he said, “but it’s really important that we’re all under the big tent, because if you don’t convene everyone under the big tent, then you can’t possibly have enriching and enlightening dialogue.”

As JPSA Campaign Chair for 2023-24, he emphasized that despite what some may think, JPSA’s role is not only to raise money.

“The role of JPSA is to convene, educate, secure, support, enlighten — and engage,” he said. ”Raising money is how we do the work of JPSA.”

Artzi is eager to do the hard work of chairing JPSA — all while running his business, OOROO Auto — but he’s determined to make it fun.

He chuckled when reminded that Tobin Board Leadership Program facilitator Jacob Meyer, who gave all the participants nicknames, dubbed him “The Dedicated Driver of Fun-Filled Philanthropy.”

The program was named for his late father-in-law, Saul Tobin, one of the “giants” of the Jewish community who inspired Artzi.

The fun, he said, “comes from seeing the results of our work. I do always want to remind [the board] that this is volunteer work and although it’s very serious, important work, it’s important to also have a good time together.”

His fellow board members are “really smart, dedicated people, and they’re fun to be around,” he added.

Artzi also looks forward to continuing to work with JPSA President and CEO Hava Leipzig Holzhauer and her professional team.

Artzi is “very creative, which is helpful in a moment of pivoting,” Leipzig Holzhauer said, referring to the post-Oct. 7 Jewish landscape. “He genuinely cares. It’s a priority for him, not just to be in the position but really the substance of what we do – to do it and do it well.

“He’s also a naturally enthusiastic person, so he’s just terrific to be around,” she added. “Jeff is also very business-minded, so he can use that lens in our work.”

Part of that work, she says, will be to increase JPSA’s “footprint,” augmenting not only its donor base but also its network of partners in the Jewish and larger communities.

At the May 9 meeting, Artzi thanked outgoing chair Liz Kanter Groskind for “helping to steady the ship” as JPSA transitioned from acting CEO Emily Richman, now chief of development, to Leipzig Holzhauer.

Due to other commitments, Kanter Groskind did not attend the meeting. Anne Hameroff, who preceded her as chair, read Kanter Groskind’s remarks, which included calling Leipzig Holzhauer “the real deal” and “an amazing partner” who “only enhances what was an already first-rate leadership team.”

For Leipzig Holzhauer, having Kanter Groskind as chair when she took over as president and CEO “has been priceless.”

Along with being a truly supportive and available partner, “she has an incredible understanding of governance,” which Leipzig Holzhauer said she will continue to draw on, along with Kanter Groskind’s deep understanding of the broader community landscape.

As the immediate past chair, Kanter Groskind remains on the executive committee. Two new committee members were elected on May 9, Ben Silverman as secretary/treasurer and Susan Jacobson as member at large. Lisa Lovallo and Isaac Rothschild continue as members at large. Five new trustees were elected: Julie Feldman, Andrew Kunsberg, Jacob Meyer, Donna Moser, and Steve Rodgveller.