As the preeminent resource for all donor and provider services in philanthropy, the Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is at the heart of Jewish giving. Since 1912, the Federation has funded programs that care for people at every stage of life - strengthening community, providing leadership and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow.
The work of the Federation is made possible through various philanthropic giving opportunities including, but not limited to, the Annual Community Campaign, planned giving and endowments, government and outside foundation grants, supplemental (project-based) giving, capital gifts and corporate sponsorship.
The Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is the central fund-raising and planning organization for the Jewish community of Greater Pittsburgh. It serves as the heart of Jewish giving -- giving care to those in need, giving deeper engagement in quality of life, and giving strength to the community, in Pittsburgh, Israel and around the world. The Federation is part of a network of Federations throughout North America that is linked to the Jewish Federations of North America.
Since 1912, Federation has coordinated a wide range of programs and worked in concert with its partner agencies locally, in Israel and around the world to address Jewish needs in the areas of health, education and social welfare. Federation's efforts have touched - and continue to touch - the lives of countless Jews in every stage of life at home and overseas.
More than 1000 volunteers, representing all ideologies and geographic areas in and around Pittsburgh, participate in every aspect of Federation's programming and service to the community. Volunteers sit on the Federation's governing boards, plan and participate in events that help the needy and carry out the fund-raising that ensures the continued vitality of the Jewish community.
Local Jewish community leaders created the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (FJP), which, in turn, was responsible for the merger of five family welfare programs into what is today's Jewish Family & Children's Services. With increased fund-raising and service demands due to the Great Depression, FJP joined the Community Chest (the forerunner of the United Way) in 1932.
In 1936 the United Jewish Fund was created to raise funds for distribution via the National United Jewish Appeal to aid and rescue European Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany – and, later, to aid in the establishment of the State of Israel. In 1955, FJP and the United Jewish Fund were consolidated into the current Federation.
In the following decades there was tremendous growth in Pittsburgh Jewish life, as well as expansion and changes in Jewish agencies. The Federation Annual Community Campaign grew in response to growing Jewish needs, while the The Jewish Community Foundation of the Federation of Greater Pittsburgh increased its assets many-fold, meeting an initial $100 million goal by the end of the year 2000.
In 1984, Federation undertook a comprehensive Jewish Community Study. Following analysis of the study data, the Federation worked with the community to respond to the findings, as illustrated by this partial list of examples:
Another comprehensive demographic examination, the 2002 Jewish Community Study identified a critical need to develop programs and services that strengthen Jewish continuity in the community. As a result outreach programs were established by the Jewish Federation along with the creation of the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future through the Jewish Community Foundation.
For over half a century, international events also garnered the attention of Federation. The Federation, in turn, marshaled financial and human resources to tend to Jewish needs worldwide. The rescue and resettlement of Soviet Jewry, locally and in Israel, was a priority, with Pittsburgh playing a significant role through Exodus: the Campaign to Rescue and Resettle Soviet Jews. More than $14.5 million was raised as part of a North American effort that partnered with the Federation’s Israel and Overseas service provider, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), to bring Jews in the Soviet Union to freedom.
From the late 70s, when the door to the Soviet Union swung open to allow massive emigration, through the 80s, when it slammed shut, and into the 90s, when a massive exodus occurred once again, Federation has been involved in efforts that ultimately freed more than a million Soviet Jews.
For those remaining behind, estimated at more than one and a half million - and those in vulnerable Jewish communities - Federation-supported programs have opened a world of opportunity for Jewish learning and expression. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which receives funding from Federation and is the largest international Jewish humanitarian assistance organization in the world and has played a critical, often life-saving role in most important events in 20th century and 21st century Jewish history., has established hundreds of programs - from kindergartens and Hillels for young adults to Hesed Centers providing food, health services and programming for the elderly and others. JDC serves needy Jews in 57 countries across the globe.
The Buncher Leadership Program, a collaborative effort of the Buncher Family Foundation, Federation and JDC, provides seminars in Israel and other locales to train Jewish professionals from vulnerable Jewish communities. To date, the Buncher Program has trained more than 400 individuals.
The Pittsburgh Jewish community has established a special connection with the country of Moldova and its capital city Kishinev, in the Former Soviet Union. Members of our own community have seen firsthand – and participated in – the miraculous rebirth of these Jewish communities through such programs as the "Passover in the FSU" project, a collaborative effort whereby local university students work with their FSU Hillel counterparts in the planning and implementation of Passover seders. Federation leaders also have been involved in Spectrum, an exciting program that guides members of the Moldovan Jewish community through the process of strategic planning for their community – and gives them the tools they need to continue this process in the future.
Over the years, dramatic and generous responses to Israel's wars – in 1967, 1973 and 1982 and 2008 – have forged a bond between our community and the Jewish nation. And, in times of peace, Federation, working with its Israel and overseas partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel, critical and innovative programs have been developed like Project Renewal, which enabled Pittsburgh Jews to join in a nationwide effort on behalf of Diaspora Jews and make a profound impact on growth in the disadvantaged community of Tirat HaCarmel two decades ago.
Most recently, as Israel has faced horrific terrorism and difficult economic times, the Federation responded with the Israel Emergency Appeal (IEA) in 2004 and later with the Israel
Emergency Campaign (IEC) in 2008. The IEA exceeded all fund raising expectations, raising more than $4.2 million. In addition to providing financial support, the IEA sponsored a wide array of educational and solidarity programs focused on Israel. The IEC raised $350 million from Federations throughout North America, with Pittsburgh’s share being $5.5 million.
Currently, our community is immersed in the dynamic Partnership 2000 program, which solidifies and nurtures a new Israel/Diaspora relationship. Designed to build people-to-people connections and enhance the economic development of our partners in Israel's Karmiel and Misgav region, Partnership 2000 fosters the ongoing exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences – and the exchange of teachers, summer camp counselors and business professionals.
Beyond our support for Israel and Jewish communities around the world, the Federation has been deeply committed to responding to emergency national and international humanitarian needs, particularly during periods of natural disasters.
The Federation quickly responded to provide support for the victims of such tragedies as the Southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the disaster in Haiti.
Each day volunteers and professional at the Federation continue life-saving work to raise and allocate funds and build a foundation that will position the community to address the needs of the future.