BJF launches ambitious annual campaign

The Birmingham Jewish Federation is kicking off its 2008 campaign with an ambitious goal of $2.4 million, and a start of over $2 million.

In recent years, the Federation has been one of the quickest in the nation in terms of finishing. As in past years, the campaign is expected to wrap up by the end of February, which this year will be extended by a Leap Day.

Last year the campaign, which provides funding for 29 beneficiaries, surpassed its goal of $2.255 million.

Leading this year’s campaign are volunteers Sheryl and Jon Kimerling, and they have seen the campaign to over $2 million before the public campaign launch.

Thanks to special funding the Federation has received from the Birmingham Jewish Foundation and a group of donors, the campaign will match pledge increases of 10 percent, and double-match increases of 20 percent or more.

“We are very excited about this year’s campaign,” said Richard Friedman, executive director of the Federation. “Sheryl and Jon have been working hard for months and doing a great job. We are off to a terrific start, though we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

The Federation’s past four campaigns exceeded their goal and finished quickly, making Birmingham’s Federation campaign one of the fastest and most successful in the country.

One of the ways that the Federation has achieved that is by giving donors the option of calling in their pledges on a 24-hour BJF hotline. The number, for those wishing to pledge that way, is (205) 803-1522.

Two major events will highlight this year’s campaign.

The annual campaign gathering for Lion of Judah members and spouses will be on Jan. 27 at 5 p.m., at Pine Tree Country Club. Guest speaker will be George Mamo, vice president of special projects, for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This group raises money, mainly from Christians, to help Israel.

Mamo came to Birmingham in the summer of 2006 to keynote the Federation’s “Stand With Israel” rally during the war with Hezbollah.

Lion of Judah is for women giving at least $5,000 to the Annual Campaign. Personal invitations are being sent to women who qualify for Lion of Judah. Thanks to the efforts of the Kimerlings, the number of women involved in Lion of Judah has grown considerably over the past year.

On Feb. 10, the Federation and Foundation will hold the annual campaign event, including the presentation of annual awards.

The 7 p.m. event at Temple Emanu-El will feature “It Sounds Better in Amharic,” a one-man show depicting the saga of Ethiopian Jewry.

Randi Landy will receive the Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Award. The award is given to an outstanding young volunteer, 40 or under, who has distinguished himself or herself through work on behalf of the Federation, involvement in the community and philanthropy. The winner is decided by the officers of the Birmingham Jewish Federation.

Landy, and her husband, Dave, continue to be generous supporters of the Federation Campaign. She has involved herself in a number of Federation areas, including playing a leadership role in the annual campaign and serving on the BJF board and nominating committee.

Melba Epsman is this year’s recipient of the Susan J. Goldberg Distinguished Volunteer Award. The award, started last year in memory of the late Susan Goldberg, goes to volunteers who have distinguished themselves through their leadership roles, character, community activities and philanthropy. The winner is decided by the officers of the Federation after nominations have been reviewed and recommended by an advisory committee.

Epsman is a past president of the Levite Jewish Community Center and a past president and past campaign chair of the Birmingham Jewish Federation.

Gladys and Karl Friedman are this year’s recipients of the N.E. Miles Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given by the Birmingham Jewish Foundation to veteran community leaders who have demonstrated a lifetime of involvement and leadership and who have made provisions, through the Foundation, to endow their annual Federation campaign gift in perpetuity. The officers of the Foundation select the winner.

For decades, Karl Friedman, with support from Gladys, has been a major Jewish community leader, holding a wide array of important leadership positions and playing an influential role in guiding the community. He has been a mentor to leaders and staff of both the Federation and Foundation.

The Feb. 10th program is being underwritten by the Andrew David Abroms Fund of the Birmingham Jewish Foundation.

For more information about the 2008 BJF Campaign, contact Lauren Pyle Klinner at the BJF at (205) 803-1517 or