30% of Jewish adults don't feel connected to our community. 

Help Federation develop additional outreach through a community concierge and innovative engagement opportunities.


12% of Jewish households are unable or just barely able to meet basic expenses. 32% of seniors say that health issues limit their ability to participate in Jewish life.

Help us ensure that all community members are able to access community services regardless of financial situation.


Just 29% of Jewish children participate in Jewish education. Only 20% of Jews ages 23-34 feel very connected to Israel (a barometer for connection to Jewish life).

We want to provide more opportunities for formal and informal Jewish education and Israel travel, and inspire young Jews to embrace Jewish life.


We are grateful to the 146 generous Gimel Society supporters who already invested in the future of our Jewish community by making a three-year increasing commitment. See the full list of Gimel Society members here. We asked some of our donors what Jewish community means to them and why they joined the Gimel Society. 


Ruth Olkon | Chief Executive Officer - Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS)

Ruth Olkon, CEO of Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS), donates each year to the St. Paul Jewish Federation because the Jewish value of tzedakah is extremely important to her, both professionally and personally. This past year, she became a Federation’s Gimel Society member by committing to a three-year increasing gift.


“As a Jewish communal professional, I need to participate and be involved in community giving, Olkon said. “And on a personal level, I donate because I’m Jewish, I love my community, and I want it to be strong for everyone who needs it.


“People tend to think that it’s ‘other people who are in need,” she continued, “but it’s not about others – it’s about us. We all need support. I may not need a service today for myself or my family, but a strong, healthy Jewish community benefits each and every one of us.”


Olkon and her husband, David, also support the Federation as a means to help teach their three children about tzedakah and philanthropy. “We began teaching our children by giving them little tzedakah boxes,” Olkon said. “Now, we’ve set up a Gesher L’Kesher account for each of them. Federation helped us take these lessons in tzedakah to the next level, and that’s a very powerful tool.” Making an annual donation is one thing, but making a three-year increasing gift through the Gimel Society is a different kind of commitment. Olkon said she participates because, as someone who runs a non-profit organization, she is intimately aware of the economics of increasing costs and demands. “I also participate in the Gimel Society to show appreciation for how Federation showed up for JFS during the Covid crisis,” she noted.


“The Federation’s support allowed us to expand our Meals on Wheels deliveries, hire another therapist, and offer emergency funds to provide a safety net to those in need. “While the Covid epidemic was horrible, the support JFS received from members of our Jewish community was beautiful.”


Barbara Klick, RN, MBA | Chief Executive Officer - Sholom


Why is it important to you to support our Jewish Community through the St. Paul Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign? Why make a 3-year increasing Gimel Society commitment?

"We are all just walking each other home." - Ram Dass

We need each other. We need to lean into each other during good times and bad. The pandemic really tested everyone, and the silver lining for me was seeing how much our community rallied around Sholom. We would not have gotten through the pandemic without the support of our community. The St. Paul Federation was highly supportive of Sholom during the COVID pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, we could not find face shields for our employees to wear as part of their protective equipment (for the safety of residents and staff). The St. Paul Federation obtained face shields from Israel and donated them to Sholom. I believe the face shields were hung up in customs, and Ethan Roberts, JCRC, helped move them to the US. CEO Ted Flaum and Board Chair Mark Adleman personally delivered the face shields to our St. Paul Sholom Shaller campus! It was an unbelievable day that resulted from so many efforts! All of our staff were so appreciative of this timely gift!


How does Federation help strengthen the work of your organization?


Sholom benefited from the St. Paul Federation’s Yad B’Yad Campaign for COVID relief. Sholom encountered many COVID expenses, e.g., personal protective equipment, testing, cleaning supplies, mandated state reporting, etc., and the community support through this gift helped Sholom continue to serve our mission and remain a community resource.

Jonathan Eisenthal: “My involvement in Federation has come about through my love and concern for Israel, sparked by my first trip to Israel at age 52, in 2016. Suddenly Israel was not just a crisis in a news article. It is real people, a number of whom I feel so fortunate to consider friends. From this experience I have learned that connection to Israel strengthens our Jewish Community. To put it simply, I hope that every Jew can feel that Israel belongs to them. It may be a long road ahead, but I think Federation can help us get there. Through a program called Partnership2Gether (P2G), Federation creates opportunities for learning about Israel, meeting Israelis, and taking part in open-minded engagement with the issues facing the Jewish State.  I joined in the Gimel Society because this is such an important way we can all strengthen our Jewish Community here in St. Paul. I really believe in the ability of our Federation to work with all community partners to understand the needs of this community and to help us direct the resources needed to meet any challenge we face, and to move all of us toward a better future. The Gimel Society, with the level of giving increasing each year for three years, is a way we can make the future we want to see.”

Charlie Nauen: "My family and I owe a lot to this community. We came here from Sioux Falls, and we adopted St. Paul as our home. We appreciate all aspects of Jewish life in Minnesota. I got involved in Federation through my friend Charles Fodor, of blessed memory. I’ve always been humbled by the opportunities I’ve had to be involved, and it’s in part because St. Paul is a smaller community and you’re more likely to be asked. It’s an honor to participate. This community does a tremendous job of supporting people who need help, whether it be financially, with health care or other services. It’s so important for people who need help to have a place to turn. I also appreciate that through Federation, we support Jews internationally. The Federation board of directors really operates as a board of directors for the St. Paul Jewish community. Collectively, they solve community problems by identifying issues, discussing how to address them and then doing something to resolve them."

Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion Temple: “We are experiencing increasing polarization in our world. We need antidotes to such centrifugal forces. Federation still is the best opportunity for pulling us together and helping all of us. Federated giving takes funding out of individuals’ preferences and commits us to dialogue, values clarification, and community-building. To me, it is fairly simple: Hillel said, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’ We need to support our community members from cradle to grave and are blessed with vibrant local institutions and synagogues that do just that. We also need to support our wider community. As Hillel taught, both are possible. And if not now…

Susan Shapiro: “Having a vital Jewish community, both locally and worldwide, is important to me. I grew up in that world, and it has always helped me feel a strong sense of belonging and community. I’ve always believed that just because something seems important to me, it doesn’t provide me with any sense of what other people’s needs may be. With federated giving, we’re able to meet a broad range of needs. Gimel Society giving enables Federation to have better insight into what funds will be available over the next few years. It is a big plus for Federation and agencies, and it will greatly assist in keeping needed services available.”


Rabbi Rachel and Rabbi Marcus Rubenstein join the Gimel Society. A hearty welcome to the Rabbis Rubenstein, the new rabbis at Temple of Aaron. They hail most recently from New York where Rabbi Marcus was the rabbi at Temple Sinai in Middletown and Rabbi Rachel was the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County. Not surprisingly, they are strong supporters of federated giving, and we are grateful to them for making a three-year increasing commitment. Here’s what they had to say about Gimel Society giving:  “We support our Jewish community because that is what it means to live a full Jewish life. So much of Jewish literature from the Torah to the Talmud is about how to create community—a community that is just, that is compassionate, and that cares for one another. By supporting our Jewish community, we put those values into action. Federated giving is vital because it allows us to lift up the entire community. With one gift to the Federation, we can ensure that each of our Jewish institutions and Jewish populations is seen and cared for. We believe that being part of a community means making a commitment. By making a three-year increasing commitment, we are giving our Jewish Federation the ability to plan for the future and to do more of the important work they do in the community.”

Ari and Rachel Parritz: As members of the community with a long history living, working and participating, it is important to us to give back and help our community grow for our children and future generations. We met in Israel on Nativ, and opportunities to strengthen young people’s connection to Israel is something we are excited about. We also both grew up in the Jewish day school system and plan on the same for our children. We were glad to join the Gimel Society and make a three-year increasing commitment to this community. Whether you are a for-profit or non-profit organization, the ability to forecast effectively for one, two or three years out is beneficial. It’s better for Federation, for the agencies that receive funding and for people who receive services. As a young family, our hope is that our Jewish community grows and reflects all members, and we continue to strengthen the organizations that help make St. Paul a great place to live.

Photo: Ari and Rachel Parritz with children Hannah (2) and Ella ( 2 mos.)  © 2021 Sofya Barth

Jason Divine says that initially as a young adult, he didn’t think federated giving was important. If anything, he thought it took away from the agencies he supports. His change of heart came with participation in the Harry Kay Leadership Institute (HKLI). “All of our community agencies are part of one ecosystem, and if any single one fails, the entire system suffers,” said Jason. “I learned that Federation makes sure that all of our community agencies get access to the funds they need, not just the one or two I’m involved in.”  After witnessing the impact Federation dollars have overseas during an HKLI trip to Hungary, Jason said that it’s also important to him that his gift supports international Jewish needs. “I don’t know a better way to make sure the Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency for Israel are funded,” he added. Jason made a Gimel Society three-year increasing commitment because it facilitates long-term planning for agency allocations. He also likes the idea that his commitment may influence others to do the same. “If we want to make sure as a people that Jewish organizations thrive, we have to make it a significant portion of our giving.” Photo: Jason Divine, Federation Board Member

Marni Tselos: I believe in the concept in Judaism that you accept help from others when you are in need, and when you are in a position to give a helping hand, it is your turn to do so. This cyclical pattern is so important. My husband Alex and I feel that making a three-year commitment helps solidify our opportunity to do a mitzvah for the next years and know that our dollars are being spent in meaningful ways. Federation has great plans for the future that can come to fruition with the ability to plan based on future funding. As our community grows and changes, we are glad to ensure that initiatives we value such as kosher meals on wheels, programs to engage people in our community, and our shlichut program continue. All of these hold a dear place in our hearts and are vital to a Jewish community.

Photo: Marni Tselos, Federation President-Elect

Join the Gimel Society today!


Invest in a vibrant, inclusive, and caring community that benefits all its members. To learn more, contact David Kaplan at or 651.695.3185.