Ellis receives Tikkun Olam
Maybe if Jonathan Ellis hadn’t listened to his wife Isabel, he might not have been singled out for the highest honor the Tampa JCCs & Federation presents each year to a member of the local Jewish community.
Each year the JCCs and Federation present the Tikkun Olam Award to a deserving member of the Jewish community at the Federation’s annual President’s Dinner, and the name of the recipient is always a closely guarded secret until the award is presented. Tikkun olam means repair the world in Hebrew.
Ellis had to know, halfway through comments by Federation President Rochelle Walk that he was the recipient, as she described what things the honoree had done to earn the award. By the time Walk mentioned that the recipient worked at the Shumaker Loop law firm, it was a cinch.
When he took the podium at the Jan. 29 dinner, Ellis thanked the Federation for the honor and quipped, “My wife got me involved [in the Jewish community]. She said if I don’t take our kids to religious school, she would take them to church.”
He said it his been his pleasure to work to support Israel and local Jewish efforts.
Walk ticked off a number of Ellis’s achievements, such as serving as past president of the JCCs & Federation, past campaign chair and his work to implement an anti-terror investment policy for the Tampa Orlando Pinellas Jewish Foundation. He also has served as president of Congregation Beth Shalom in Brandon.
“Not only has our honoree been the spokesperson, chair and a member of our Jewish Community Relations Council, but he has also served as the vice chair and is currently the treasurer of the National Jewish Council for Public Affairs, based in Washington, DC,” Walk said.
In conjunction with that portfolio, she cited Ellis’ work with the Tampa Rabbinical Association and helping students at USF respond to the Boycott Divest and Sanction movement.
“When it comes to volunteerism,” Walk said, “our honoree is a Federation go-to resource – someone who identifies the concern and offers assistance before a request for help is even initiated – a person who simply can’t say no. On more than one occasion in the last few years, I have received a call, an email or a tap on my shoulder with offers from our honoree to make a call or simply help in whatever manner is needed.”
Walk noted his leadership for supporting a second JCC and stepping in to volunteer as Hillel Academy undergoes a change in leadership.
Walk, who served with Ellis as co-president of the JCCs & Federation for a time, cited his wisdom as a trusted advisor and a good listener who “puts family and community first.”
Why support the Annual Campaign
Jeffrey Berger, a man who has been involved in the local Jewish community for years, addressed the sold-out President’s Dinner crowd of about 550 and urged then to be generous in their donations to the Federation’s Annual Campaign.
“Federation uses our campaign dollars – our lamp oil – to help fund the programs, services and agencies that are essential to the advancement and perpetuation of Jewish life, learning, culture and values, both here in Tampa and elsewhere,” Berger said.
“First, our campaign dollars provide Jewish educational and enrichment opportunities for our community. From pre-school to day camp; from scholarships to Hillel Academy, to outreach programs on our college campuses, Federation funding helps educate and provide Jewish experiences and Israel Advocacy training to our youth and young adults. And for our other adults, Federation sponsors leadership programs, book fairs, film festivals, missions to Israel, and numerous other programs and events that help our community thrive.”
Berger said the donations change lives, helping Tampa Jewish Family Services feed the needy, helping defend the community against anti-Semitism and helping Jews in Israel and around the world with a variety of programs, including Birthright Israel and other programs in the Jewish state, and direct aid from the Tampa Federation to its sister city, Ashdod, Israel, for bomb shelters. “For bomb shelters – let the importance of that sink in for a moment,” he said.
Berger noted that none of the donations to the Annual Campaign go toward the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, but urged making a separate donation to the new JCC.
For more information on the Annual Campaign, contact Alissa Fischel, chief development officer, (813) 769-4726.